Mount Baldy is an “incredibly hard hike” under wintry conditions, but missing actor Julian Sands is an “extremely advanced hiker,” a friend of the actor told Fox News Digital Thursday.
“It’s an incredibly hard hike with those weather conditions,” said actor Kevin Ryan, who first met Sands while the two were shooting a series called “Crossbones” together. Ryan has done the hike “a number of times” and twice in the winter.
“You’re talking about six to eight to nine hours to get to the summit,” added Ryan. “And when it’s icy, it’s very challenging. I know Julian is an extremely advanced hiker and very strong-willed. He’s very, very fit. And we’re holding out strong that it’ll be a positive return for him.”
However, Ryan noted that with California’s “very cold, wet weather” this year, it was likely hampering search efforts on the mountain.
ACTOR JULIAN SANDS LATEST HIKER TO ENCOUNTER DISASTER NEAR POPULAR LA MOUNTAIN; EXPERTS WEIGHT IN ON DANGERS
“I think weather conditions are a big aspect of this, why they can’t get to some of those areas,” Ryan said, adding snow can get deep.
On Wednesday afternoon, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the search for Sands would continue by air only, adding that searchers were using RECCO technology that can detect reflective material, electronics and, sometimes, credit cards.
Ryan said he was staying optimistic rescuers would find Sands, 65, alive, following the discovery of 75-year-old hiker Jin Chung, who had been missing for two days before he was found alive. Sands has been missing for 13 days
Chung “suffered some weather-related injuries and a leg injury but was able to walk out with the assistance of the crew members,” the department said.
Ryan told Fox News Digital that “during an episode like this where every agonizing day by day, hour by hour goes by, you get more worried, you know, about a safe return, but all we have in a situation like this is hope.
“One of the things, as I said, is how advanced Julian is,” Ryan added. “And he’s a smart guy, and I’m remaining hopeful that he’s holding out and, you know, surviving.”
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Ryan said he last saw Sands a couple of months ago at Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles, where they would often run into each other.
“A funny story, actually,” he said. “I was running down the mountain one time, and I slipped and I injured my left leg. And about eight seconds later, Julian Sands appears around the corner. And he got me safely down the mountain. So, he knows what he’s doing. “
He said Sands always heads out on a hike prepared with everything he needs in his bag.
“He’s climbed some serious mountains more than I have. He’s a lot more advanced of a hiker than I would be. So I’m hoping that he’ll be OK,” he added.
ACTOR JULIAN SANDS IDENTIFIED AS MISSING HIKER IN CALIFORNIA
Sands’ brother Nick Sands was less optimistic in an interview Tuesday with the British newspaper the Telegraph & Argus.
“He has not yet been declared missing — presumed dead — but I know in my heart that he has gone,” Nick said. “However, sibling rivalry being what it is, it would be just like him to walk out of there and prove me wrong.
“He has an army of friends, fans and admirers who have been fantastic in their support and will miss Jules dearly.”
Despite the conditions, Ryan said he was still hopeful.
“I know how strong [he] is, and I know how smart he is and how prepared he is,” Ryan said. “So, I’m holding out. If anyone can get through this, he can. And that’s all I have to rely on right now. So I’m sticking with that and saying a prayer for him.”
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He also gave his “deepest love and support to the family.”
“It’s an incredibly hard time for them, and I just want to send my love to them,” Ryan said. “I also want to thank all of the search party teams, sheriff’s department and everyone on the ground that has just gone through relentless efforts so far and are continuing to do so until they find Julian.”