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June 7, 2010
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Arne Backstrom death: Report reveals incident details

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Squaw Valley resident Arne Backstrom suffered head trauma and was killed last Thursday after one of his skis fell off, leading to the fatal fall during a freeskiing mission in Peru, according to an accident report released Sunday.

According to the report, released by Kevin Quinn, of Points North Heli Adventures Inc., Backstrom, 29, was with friends Kip Garre and Dave Rosenbarger at Pisco Mountain in the Llanganuco Valley of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, South America, for a month-long expedition.

On Thursday, June 3, the trio started an early morning hike to the summit, and they eventually began their descent at 9:25 a.m.

“Snow conditions off of the summit were consistent and ideal for skiing. An inch of warmed, soft snow overlay a firm base,” the report reads.

Approximately 150 meters below the summit, the team stopped at a ramp leading to Pisco's S Face, a 400-meter, 50-55 degree slope of snow and rock. At 9:45 am, after some discussion, Backstrom decided to descend the ramp to assess the snow conditions of the face.

According to the incident report, Backstrom eventually encountered hard snow or ice, and the team noticed Backstrom accelerate.

“His downhill ski released, causing Arne to fall out of Kip and Dave's sight,” the report reads.

About an hour later, Garre and Rosenbarger were able to safely traverse down the S Face through “heavily glaciated and crevassed terrain.” At approximately 10:55 a.m., they found Backstrom beneath the face. He had neither a radial nor a carotid pulse and had sustained head trauma despite wearing a helmet.

After coordinating a rescue mission, the team contacted a friend in the United States at 4:15 p.m. to help with coordination of a rescue and to notify members of Backstrom's family.

On Saturday, with the help of several local porters and guides, Backstrom's body was brought down to a refuge located adjacent to the team's base camp. Currently, formalities are being taken care of to return Backstrom back to his family in the United States.

“All of us here, as well as thousands of friends and family members around the world are deeply saddened by this unfortunate event,” Quinn said in the report. “ ... Our thoughts and sympathy are with the Backstrom family.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 7, 2010 11:47AM Published Jun 7, 2010 11:45AM Copyright 2010 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.