GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. – Friends and family are remembering the 25-year-old snowboarder killed on Mt. Hood over the weekend as an explorer, an adventurer and an instructor who loved helping kids.
Collin Backowski, 25, of Pine, Colo. died when the snow tunnel he was in collapsed Saturday. He was with a group of friends from a children’s snowboarding camp when it happened.
His father, John Backowski, said Collin sent him a picture from the mountain just before he died.
“He was very good at helping other people with [snowboarding],” John Backowski said. “It never worried me what he was doing late at night. It worried me to death what he was doing when he died.”
Collin and five others were exploring an ice cave on White River Glacier between Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline when the top of the cave suddenly collapsed, trapping him under a chunk of snow and ice the size of a school bus. Two others were partly buried but were able to escape. Searchers recovered Backowski's body Sunday morning.
Background: Body of snowboarder recovered from Mt. Hood
"He was just a very enthusiastic, infectious guy," said Kevin English, Executive Director for the High Cascade Snowboard Camp.
“I don’t think Collin or anybody thought they were doing anything extreme," English said. "I’ve seen these stories painted as extreme snowboarders needing to fulfill their adrenaline rush and that’s not what it was. They were essentially going out to explore the mountain and look at it and they were fascinated by it."
Backowski had been working as a snowboard instructor at the summer snowboarding camp since June. It was his first season with the camp. There were no kids with him and the other instructors Saturday.
The final week of High Cascade Snowboard Camp began Monday morning. Organizers said they had considered canceling the camp after Backowski’s death Saturday, but they decided he would not have wanted that.
“That was a big question we had last night on our staff was, how do we go back up and snowboard and do these things that feel so superficial?" English said. "It came back around to, that’s what Collin loved, that’s what we all here love."
Crisis counselors were available for any HCSC students or instructors who wanted to talk about what happened.
English said students at the program never go outside ski area bounds, and Backowski and his friends were exploring the mountain outside of the controlled area.