Body of snowboarder trapped under ice at Mount Hood recovered

Aug. 4, 2013 at 8:18 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A recovery team Sunday retrieved the body of a Colorado snowboarder killed when a massive block of ice fell on him on Oregon's Mount Hood.

The team used chainsaws and shovels under dangerous conditions to carve their way through tons of ice and snow to reach the victim, Collin Backowski, 25, of Pines, at about the 8,100-foot elevation, The (Portland) Oregonian reported.

Lt. Tiffany Peterson, a Wy'East Fire District spokeswoman, said Backowski's body was carried off the mountain and transferred to a Hood River mortuary.

Backowski and five friends, all in their 20s, were looking for a place to snowboard Saturday on the mountain when they entered an ice tunnel formed by melting snow, the newspaper said.

The tunnel collapsed and Backowski was trapped under a piece of ice the size of a school bus, said Sgt. Pete Hughes, a spokesman for the Hood River County Sheriff's Office, in a statement early Sunday.

Two of Backowski's companions were buried as well but escaped unharmed.

Dr. Christopher Van Tilburg of Hood River, who is a member of the all-volunteer Crag Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue, said the team had to deal with "ice crevasses, intense warming, rock fall and sand just getting to the site."

Fellow Crag Rats member Rick Ragan said there are those snowboarders and skiers who feel the need "to jump the highest, do the most flips, do everything to the extreme."

"They come up here, and go outside the resort boundary, and then they're on a glacier with avalanches and crevasses and ice and rock fall," Ragan said.

"The message is, a glacier is a dynamic environment. It's highly dangerous. ... It's increasingly common to see kids going over there, getting wilder, crazier, trying to do something no one else has done before.

"The mountain doesn't care."

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