Hood River climber hit by falling ice


News staff writer

February 3, 2007

A Hood River climber was injured on Mount Hood when a chunk of ice broke away from an overhanging ridge and rolled into her on Wednesday morning.

Robin Merriam, 45, sustained three fractured vertebrae in her lower back from the impact. She is also being treated for severe contusions at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

“It’s going to be a pretty painful couple of weeks for her. But it could have been worse,” said her husband, Tom Merriam, 48.

He said a huge chunk of ice – believed to weigh about 200 pounds – hurtled almost 300 feet before striking Robin. The couple, joined by family friend Mark Flaming, 46, was at the 10,600-foot level on the southern slopes of Mount Hood when the accident occurred.

Tom made an emergency call to get Robin help via his cell phone about 2 p.m. And then he and Flaming wrapped her in a blanket and kept her warm until help arrived.

He also kept the couple’s three children of middle and high school ages posted about their mother’s progress.

“Once we got situated, I called and let them know that mom was okay and help was on the way,” said Tom.

It took almost six hours for rescuers from Clackamas County to organize and get up the steep slope near Hogsback Ridge. It was another two hours before Robin was airlifted off the mountain by an Oregon National Guard helicopter.

Tom and Flaming then hiked in the dark down the snowy terrain, accompanied by Portland Mountain Rescue.

“It worked out about as well as it could have,” said Tom.

As of press time on Friday, Robin had not yet been released from the hospital — but Tom believed that she would be home sometime during the weekend to begin her recovery.

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