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Rescuers find body of snowboarder buried in Oregon ice cave

mt_hood_ice_cave.jpg

Aug. 3, 2013: In this undated photo provided by the Hood River County Sheriffs Office a hiker stands at the entrance to an ice tunnel that collapsed, trapping a snowboarder at Oregon's Mt. Hood. Rescue crews early Sunday morning will resume the search for a snowboarder who was trapped under the collapsing ice tunnel. (AP/Hood River County Sheriffs Office)

A dozen rescuers armed with chain saws and other tools chipped away at tons of ice and snow Sunday to the recover the body of a 25-year-old snowboarder killed when an ice tunnel collapsed on Oregon's Mount Hood.

The snowboarder, Collin Backowski, of Colorado, was traveling with five companions when the collapse hit Saturday afternoon. The others tried to dig him out but could not break through the ice and snow, which an official described as being as thick as concrete.

Rescuers quickly responded but halted efforts about 11 p.m. Saturday, then resumed early Sunday morning.

Hood River Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tiffany Peterson said that after removing tons of debris by hand, searchers found Backowski where he had been buried by 8 to 10 feet of snow and ice.

None of the searchers or other snowboarders was injured, Peterson said.

The ice tunnel was on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.

An airplane was dispatched to survey the area, along with crews from local sheriff's offices.

Seven rescuers, including five members of an all-volunteer group called the CragRats, were on the mountain on Saturday night.

Companions took pictures of the area just before the tunnel collapsed, giving searchers a better idea of where to look.

Warm temperatures made snow on the mountain slushier and more easily sloughed off the surface, adding to the challenge of attempting to reach the snowboarder.

 

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