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Snowmobiler Stranded in Mountains

January 19, 2000

NEWPORT, Wash. (AP) _ Stranded in the frigid mountains, Jason Conboy made the ultimate sacrifice to stay alive. He burned his snowmobile.

``I was getting pretty weak, so I started ripping parts off my sled and burning them,″ said Conboy, 20, of Spokane, after he was rescued Tuesday. ``I even burned my helmet.″

After running out of flammable parts, he curled up in the hole the fire had formed in the snow.

``I just slept right on top of the coals,″ said Conboy, who was treated for minor frostbite on his feet after the ordeal. ``My boots melted.″

Pend Oreille County sheriff’s Sgt. Alan Botzheim said temperatures dipped to 12 degrees overnight in nearby Ione and were probably colder near the summit of Baldy Mountain, elevation about 6,000 feet, where Conboy spent the night.

Conboy’s plight began Monday afternoon when he and friend Ryan Auer attempted to reach an abandoned mountaintop fire lookout tower.

Auer, 20, was unable to reach the top and turned back. Conboy got farther but, while trying to turn around, his snowmobile slipped down the back side of the mountain.

Auer went for help.

Rescuers on snowmobiles followed Conboy’s tracks by flashlight and found him. But the slopes were too steep for a rescue toboggan, so rescuers built a fire, wrapped Conboy in blankets and waited for daylight. He was taken aboard an Air Force helicopter about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Conboy plans to leave the wreckage of his snowmobile in the mountains. He figures what’s left of the snowmobile isn’t worth the cost of a helicopter to recover it.

``Hopefully, I don’t get in trouble for littering,″ he said.

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