Rescuers recovered the body of 25-year-old Collin Backowski August 4 from Oregon's Mt. Hood. Officials said Backowski had been burried under 8- to 10-feet of snow and ice.
The snowboarder had been missing since an ice tunnel collapsed Aug. 3 on the mountain's White River Glacier. Five of his companions were uninjured and tried to dig Backowski out, but weren't able to break through the ice.
Up to a dozen people used chainsaws and other tools to clear the snow and ice, before recovering Backowski's body.
Rescue efforts have resumed today as emergency responders continue to look for a 25-year-old snowboarder, trapped in a collapsed ice tunnel on Oregon's Mt. Hood on Aug. 3.
Collin Backowski, of Pines, Colo., had been walking through the White River Glacier area with friends Saturday afternoon when the tunnel suddenly collapsed on him, trapping him under a huge piece of hardened ice.
The Oregonian reports that Backowski's friends immediately called police and rescuers swiftly responded to the scene, attempting to dig the young man out for an hour with little success.
Located at an elevation of 8,100 feet, rescuers on the scene were using hand-tools in their digging efforts on Saturday, but planned to return Sunday with heavier equipment.
"This is clearly not a good-looking situation when it comes to survivability," Sgt. Pete Hughes, a spokesman for the Hood River County Sheriff's Office, told The Oregonian.
Following a week of frosty mornings, Treasure Valley motorists were greeted with warmer temperatures today. But don't let that fool you. A series of storms feeding off of tropical moisture from the south Pacific are crawling toward the region, promising four straight days of precipitation and lower temperatures.
The National Weather Service office in Boise is forecasting no flooding for mainstem rivers but significant rises are expected to occur on the Weiser and Payette rivers, and there is a potentital for flooding of small streams in the west-central mountains and the Boise Mountains through Sunday.
The region's ski resort operators are anxiously awaiting the precipitation.
"People are excited, and I just don't think they're buying the idea that we'll have two terrible years in a row," Mike DeBoer, owner of inIdaho.com and president of Brundage Mountain's board of directors told Boise Weekly. "People are booking for Christmas right now, and I can tell you, that's a pent-up demand."
And Brundage President and General Manager Rick Certano told BW that his staff has "the plan" to activate the resort's 7,600-feet-high operations.
"They get the core people, and we build from there," said Certano, who employs 100-120 staff at season's peak. "We don't want to hire any sooner than two weeks before we open. I just tell my staff, 'Be ready.'"
A nonprofit is set to take over the Soldier Mountain Ski Area. This morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that the resort's new owners will be introduced in a town hall meeting in Fairfield Thursday night.
Actor Bruce Willis, the previous owner, donated the ski area, including two chairlifts and a recently rebuilt lodge, to the nonprofit.
The Mountain Express reports that the nonprofit includes three individuals who are principals in the Boise-based law firm of Varin Wardwell and Thomas: Will Varin, William Wardwell and Robert Thomas. in addition to Fairfield residents Jamon Frostenson and Russell Schiermeier.
Soldier Mountain includes 1,150 acres of skiing across 39 trails.
Actor Bruce Willis reportedly is interested in donating the Soldier Mountain Ski Area to an Idaho nonprofit organization.
The Idaho Mountain Express reports this morning that a meeting has been scheduled for Thursday in Fairfield to discuss the proposal. Willis has owned Soldier Mountain since the late 1990s. According to sources, the ski area has been operating at a loss for a number of years.
The Mountain Express reports that the Soldier Mountain Recreation Association, with help from donors, is interested in taking over management of the ski resort.
Soldier Mountain includes 1,150 acres of terrain and three ski lifts rising to 1,425 feet.
The arrival and departure message boards at the Boise Airport look about the same today as they did on Thursday: The majority of air traffic in and out of Seattle is again delayed or canceled.
A major ice storm crippled Seattle Thursday, leaving nearly a quarter of a million people without power. Sea-Tac airport was officially shut down Thursday so that its three runways could be de-iced. Hundreds of flights were canceled, resulting in snaking lines of passengers hovering around each airline ticket counter.
As of this morning, the earliest flight from Seattle to Boise is scheduled to arrive early this afternoon.
By 8 o'clock this morning, the Ada County Sheriff's Office had already reported a dozen crashes and four slide-offs with injuries. Eagle Police also responded to a crash involving a school bus at the intersection of Palmer and West State streets.
The National Weather Service is forecasting snow for much of the day and into this evening. Precipitation in one form or another is expected to be a frequent visitor until Sunday.
Four to 8 inches of snow is expected in the Upper Treasure Valley today, and up to a foot is expected along the Foothills.
Forecasters remind travelers that a winter storm warning for heavy snow means that "significant amounts of snow will make travel dangerous." If you must travel away from the metropolitan area, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
The ideal snow base for the Bogus Basin Mountain Resort Area is 24 inches. This morning's snowfall helps significantly, because as of Tuesday, the mountain reported just under a foot of snow.
"With 16 inches, we will open any part of the mountain possible," Bogus spokeswoman Gretchen Anderson told Citydesk. For the resort to operate fully, she said, "A good 10 inches would get us there."
Normally, it would take the resort about two days to be open for business, but there is nothing normal about this season - Bogus has already broken its previous record for its latest season opener. Anderson said if there's enough moisture (and there's plenty in the forecast for the next four days), her colleagues could possibly work round-the-clock for a 24-hour turn-around opening.
The long-anticipated snowfall came just in time for tonight's benefit, Get Louder for Powder, in Boise's Basque Block from 5-8 p.m.
If indeed Bogus opens this week or weekend, Anderson said they'll try to keep the mountain open as late in the season as possible, promising that the slopes will stay open, at least on weekends, until spring and "as long as there are customers and snow."
"Bogus Basin is similar to the YMCA, only on a mountain," explained Anderson, saying tonight's benefit was an opportunity to recoup a bit of lost revenue.
With no significant snow accumulation expected for the Treasure Valley anytime soon, precipitation (or the lack thereof) remains Southwest Idaho's No. 1 topic of concern.
But Boise State geoscience professor Hans-Peter Marshall urges caution before weather watchers link the dry spell to global warming.
“We have to be careful at assuming it's global warming," Marshall told Citydesk. "The recent wind, precipitation and warmer temperatures do not prove the climate is warming.”
In fact, Marshall readily points to other spots across the globe that are receiving generous amounts of snow.
“In Alaska, they are being pounded with snow," said Marshall. "And most of Europe is having an above-average year. Areas of higher elevation like [Idaho's] Sawtooths are around 50-70 percent average for snowfall.”
Marshall stressed the importance of looking at overall, long-term weather patterns.
“Last year, there was a lot of snow late in the season and a dry spell in the middle, so we came out about average,” he said. "Weather conditions are going to change, that’s a given. These types of things happen.”
The Special Olympics of Idaho marks another casualty of the lack of snowfall. For the first time in 40 years of its history, organizers have canceled the whole lineup of snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and alpine skiing. There just isn't enough snow in Idaho.
Matt Caropino, sports and training manager for Special Olympics Idaho, distributed a letter to supporters, staff and volunteers about the sad news.
The March 2-4 games were scheduled for Valley County, sharing the suffering for what's been a mild winter for the entire state. The organization's 330 athletes and 175 volunteers will do without the winter games. Special Olympics Idaho is working to make arrangements for the state floor hockey competition to be hosted in Boise on March 3.
This in addition to the $100,000 of revenue lost per day for local Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. Their previous latest opening day was Jan. 6, 1989, and unless Boise gets an overnight dump of the white stuff, they'll shatter that record this year.
By all indications, Bogus Basin will experience its latest-ever opening date this year (the old record was January 6, 1989).
Because the resort is losing up to $100,000 in revenue for each lost day of skiing, Bogus General Manager Mike Shirley and Chief Financial Officer Alan Moore announced that they will work without pay for the time being.
“Nobody’s all that happy,” Shirley told Citydesk. “We’d much rather be open and having a season.”
The cuts don’t stop there. Shirley said the 35 year-round staff members still employed by Bogus will see a 10 percent cut in pay for the season. Staff who work on a seasonal basis have yet to receive any compensation.
The entire month of December and Christmas break are Bogus’ most profitable parts of the ski season, but now “it’s just gone forever,” Shirley said.
Outside of staff cuts, Shirley said there are a few ways for Bogus to recover. He said the resort is currently "getting by" with a line of credit to take care of borrowed money, which he said could impact Bogus' next season.
“We’re trying to minimize that effect,” he said. “We’ll just see how long it goes without snow. We’ll have to make some further decisions if we don’t get any in the next couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile, Greenwood’s Ski Haus on Bogus Basin Road is also wishing for snow, but owner Jeff Lewerenz said business hasn’t been hurt significantly by Bogus’ late opening date.
“We’re concerned that snow gets here soon, but we’re not panicked yet,” he said. “It’s all weather dependent. Business is much slower, but thankfully the other resorts are still open.”
Lewerenz told Citydesk Greenwood’s caters to skiers and snowboarders who can get out of town to Sun Valley, Tamarack and Brundage ski resorts, and everyone remains positive that the snow will fall closer to home.
“People understand that winter can still come,” Lewerenz said. “People can still get the skiing in that they want—there’s still opportunity. The best analogy I’ve heard is that we’re snow farmers. You’re not sure when it’s going to come, but it comes.”