Snowboarder’s body recovered on Mt Hood

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — The body of a 25-year-old snowboarder from Colorado was recovered Sunday after an ice tunnel collapsed on Mount Hood.

Rescuers from Cragats and Portland Mountain Rescue found Collin Backowski around 8:45 a.m., officials said. Twelve rescuers used chainsaws and other hand tools to remove 8 to 10 feet of snow and ice off the man from Pines, Colorado.

A total of several tons of debris was moved by hand, officials said.

The glaciers of Mount Hood, courtesy volcanoes.usgs.gov, Aug. 3, 2013
The glaciers of Mount Hood, courtesy volcanoes.usgs.gov, Aug. 3, 2013

Search and rescue teams raced to the mountain Saturday around 4 p.m. after a group of six snowboarders called 911 to report an avalanche, said Sgt. Pete Hughes of the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office.

Clackamas and Hood River counties sent search and rescue teams to Timberline Lodge almost immediately, officials said.

The ice tunnel collapsed at the 8,100 foot-level on the White River Glacier on Mt. Hood, Hughes said.

The group of six snowboarders – ranging in ages from 24 to 29 years old –  were in the area looking for places to snowboard and film, deputies said.

This ice tunnel on Mount Hood collapsed and buried a snowboarder (not the person seen in this picture) Aug. 3, 2013 (Photo courtesy Hood River County Sgt. Pete Hughes)
This ice tunnel on Mount Hood collapsed and buried a snowboarder (not the person seen in this picture) Aug. 3, 2013 (Photo courtesy Hood River County Sgt. Pete Hughes)

The men found an area where the glacier meets a rock talus slope and had tunnel was formed from melting.

Backowski entered the tunnel with some of the other men, Hughes said.

It was reported that when the tunnel collapsed, the two other men who were inside, were struck by falling ice, Hughes said. Neither of those men was injured.

The group started to dig into the ice collapse but could not do much because of the density of snow and ice and the danger of more debris falling into Backowski, Hughes said.

Search and rescue teams, including ski patrol, used a Sno-Cat to get access to the scene as quickly as possible. The teams needed to climb the rest of the way to the collapse site where the started to probe the area.

Hood River Craig Rats, Mountain Wave Rescue Emergency Communications and Portland Mountain Rescue arrived and assisted with the search, but by 11 p.m. Saturday, search efforts were called off.

The team did a safety assessment of the scene and determined it was very dangerous and there was a high risk of more falling rock and ice, Hughes said.

Bacowski is listed as a coach at the High Cascade Snowboard Camp according to the camp’s website.

Sunday afternoon, Executive Camp Director and Co-Owner Kevin English, released this statement to the media:

“We are deeply saddened to inform you of an incident that occured [sic] on Mt. Hood yesterday afternoon while camp was not in session. An off-duty staff member was fatally injured as a snow cave collapsed in an area outside Timberline Resort boundary. We are still learning more details about the incident with cooperation from the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office and will be providing crisis-counseling on-site for staff and campers.

All campers are safe and none were anywhere near the mountain when this incident occurred. We would like to reiterate that the area of this incident is out of resort boundaries far from HCSC’s private facilities and is an area that is off-limits to campers.  

I spoke with the family this morning to express our sentiments provide them with any assistance through this very difficult time.

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