Oregon men slip on ice, fall off Cape Horn trail

One fell 150 feet trying to reach his friend

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Two Oregon men slipped on ice Wednesday afternoon while they were hiking and fell off the Cape Horn Trail east of Washougal.

James VanLente, 75, of Wilsonville, Ore., and Martin Schwartz, 68, of Portland were hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with nine other people when they came across an area where water had frozen over. VanLente slipped and went over the edge, falling about 25 feet until his legs got trapped in some vine maple. Schwartz was attempting to help VanLente when he slipped and fell about 150 feet down an ice chute.

VanLente freed himself from the vine and got back on the trail. He was picked up by a Skamania County sheriff’s deputy on Cape Horn Road and transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. He was treated and later discharged from the hospital.

Schwartz was rescued via a rope system, used by emergency responders to lift him up onto the trail. He was carried to a waiting ambulance that transported him to PeaceHealth. He was listed in satisfactory condition Wednesday night.

Skamania fire districts 4 and 5, the Volcano Rescue Team, Wind River Search and Rescue and local paramedics helped in the rescue efforts.

“We were very fortunate today,” said Undersheriff Dave Cox. “With the freezing temperatures, high winds and icy conditions, the responding rescue personnel did an outstanding job with this four-hour operation and everyone went home safe.”