A Jerome man was killed in a human-triggered avalanche on Jan. 15 in the Baker Creek area, north of Ketchum. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center is still working on a full report of the incident but has released a short video giving some technical details of the avalanche.
According to the Avalanche Center, the avalanche released on a south-facing slope at 9,200 feet. The slope angle of the start zone was about 33 degrees and broke on faceted snow buried 2 to 3 feet deep. The slide ran 600 vertical feet, depositing debris 3 to 8 feet deep, according to the Sawtooth Avalanche Center report. A full accident report was not published as of Tuesday afternoon.
Kirk Douglas Rongen, 50, was snowmobiling with a friend in the Baker Creek area roughly 20 miles north of Ketchum when an avalanche struck and buried him. According to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, the other snowmobiler was able to locate Rongen and partly unbury him, but Rongen was unable to be revived and passed away at the scene.
Rongen was born in Crookston, Minn., and played football at University of Minnesota Crook-ston and Moorhead State University, where he received numerous awards for his athletic abilities and was inducted into the Moorhead State University Athletic Hall of Fame, according to an obituary published by the Twin Falls Times-News. Rongen moved to Idaho in 1997 and started Mountain View Spraying Service, a lawn care company, with his wife. He is survived by his wife, Ann-Pell Rongen, and their three children, Kamp, Sailor and Lake.
“Our beloved husband, fa-ther, brother, uncle, and friend climbed his last mountain, doing what he loved with his BFF, on January 15, 2020 in the Sawtooth Mountains,” the obituary states.