Ice falls, hits Hood River woman on Mount Hood

June 11, 2011

A falling ice chuck reportedly measuring 20 by 40 feet barreled through a string of climbers near the Hogsback Ridge area of Mount Hood Thursday around 6 a.m., striking Meredith Jaques, 30, of Hood River, and sending her into a 300-foot slide down a steep slope.

"She's tiny but very strong," said Deborah Whiting-Jaques, Jaques' mother, as reported to Everton Bailey Jr. of OregonLive.com. prior to her arrival at the hospital. "She's an incredibly bright, pragmatic woman, and we all know she's going to pull through."

The initial 7:25 a.m. emergency call for Jaques - who suffered injury to her back, neck, arms, face and legs - came in from her fellow climbers, all members of the Hood River Crag Rats mountain rescue team, who were on a training mission together.

The climbing group of 12, including Jaques' brother Aaron, was at approximately 10,500 feet - above an area known as Devil's Kitchen, near Hogsback Ridge - during their attempted ascent when Jaques was struck by the falling ice.

Jaques was assisted by the Crag Rats until additional search and rescue teams arrived. It was reported that a retired physician and an emergency medical technician were part of her climbing team.

The American Medical Response Reach and Treat Team and the Portland Mountain Rescue mountaineers partnered in her evacuation, arriving on scene at about 11:25 a.m.

Even with the good luck of an experienced rescue team on hand, more challenges followed for Jaques, who was stabilized and lowered by sled to an area known as the Palmer Glacier where she was met by a snow cat for transport.

A Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue coordinator's report noted mechanical difficulties with the snow cat a short time after her pick-up, having traveled only halfway down the mountain.

Consequently, the rescue team continued with Jaques' evacuation from the cat break-down point through treacherous terrain using only a toboggan as they descended the remainder of the way to the lodge.

Jaques was off the mountain by 4:45 p.m., more than nine hours after the original distress call. She was transported by ambulance to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. She was later transferred to Legacy Emmanuel in Portland.

According to Jaques bedside nurse in a call placed to the hospital, the family has asked for privacy and Jaques' current medical condition has not been reported publically.

Jaques works for Shred Alert; a Hood River-based sportswear company. Her father is Jerry Jaques of Hood River.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office coordinated the rescue through an established command post at Timberline Lodge. Mountain Wave Communications provided radio communication services during the rescue.

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