Friday, March 3, 2006

Burley snowmobiler killed by avalanche

Express Staff Writer

A 47-year-old Burley man was killed by an avalanche while snowmobiling Wednesday afternoon in Butte County's Antelope Valley, west of Moore in the Big Lost River drainage.

Colin S. Bowcut was buried by the slide at about 2:30 p.m., stated a Butte County Sheriff's Department news release.

Antelope Valley is located about 30 miles northwest of Arco and 50 miles northeast of Carey.

Bowcut was carried about 600 feet after being impacted by the slide, the report said. Fellow snowmobiler Brad Baker located Bowcut under about 3 feet of snow and attempted resuscitation.

The avalanche danger on Wednesday was listed as considerable, with pockets of high danger along upper-elevation northwest-, north-, and east-facing ridgelines.

There have been 18 avalanche fatalities in the United States this season—six have been snowmobilers. Alaska has had the most with five avalanche fatalities recorded this season, and Colorado has had four.

Bowcut was the first person to die from an avalanche in Idaho this season.

The avalanche danger remained considerable on Thursday.

"The last storm deposited between 8 to 24 inches of new snow on a widespread weak snow surface on east, north and west aspects and a crust surface on south aspects," Sawtooth National Forest avalanche forecaster Matt Lutz reported on Thursday. "Snow totals with this last storm vary widely depending on elevation and location. Additionally, mid elevations in the central and north valley have upside-down powder conditions within the new snow.

"In a nutshell folks, we now have a slab sitting on a weak layer."

However, Sun Valley Resort's main ski area, Bald Mountain, is fully open for business. The upper elevations of Baldy received nearly 2 feet of snow during the storm earlier this week. Parts of the mountain were closed temporarily Tuesday because of wind and avalanche danger.

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