42nd annual World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb

Rob Kincaid, of Victor, Idaho, guns for the summit in the Pro Masters Stock division during the 42nd annual World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb on March 25, 2018, at Snow King Mountain.

A staple of the region’s snowmobile scene died in an avalanche in the Palisades area in Idaho after being reported missing Friday, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Saturday.

Professional rider and Victor resident Robert Kincaid, 46, was recovered Saturday morning by sheriff’s deputies, search and rescue and Air Idaho Rescue. Although a snowmobiler reported Kincaid missing Friday evening, weather and terrain prevented rescuers from recovering his body that night. They resumed their efforts Saturday morning.

Roughly 10 snowmobilers were riding together in the Austin Canyon area, north of Mount Baird and the Palisades Reservoir. After the avalanche, one rider left to alert authorities while the rest probed and searched for Kincaid. A news release said that after 2 1/2 hours of searching, Kincaid was found but could not be resuscitated. Authorities determined that he was wearing an avalanche beacon, but it was not activated at the time of the avalanche.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center pointed to the accident and the avalanche death Wednesday of snowboarder Trace Jordan Carrillo, 28, on Taylor Mountain as grim reminders for backcountry visitors to check their beacons.

“In both of last week’s fatalities, the victims were wearing transceivers, but tragically neither of their beacons were turned on,” stated the center’s Sunday morning Teton Avalanche Advisory.

“This [is] a stark reminder to do full beacon checks before leaving the trailhead. For every person, verify their batteries are good, and their transceivers are both sending and receiving properly.”

Bonneville County Deputy Judd Aeschbacher said Kincaid triggered the avalanche by going first down a slope.

“They were going to head out, and Rob was the first one,” Aeschbacher said. “It’s a chute they use to get out of the canyon they were in, and he was the first one to go.”

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center had rated avalanche danger as moderate Friday in the Palisades area.

Kincaid was a veteran of local snowmobile hill climbs, including the Jackson Hole World Championship Hill Climb at Snow King Mountain, and a regular in races across the West with the Rocky Mountain States HillClimb Association. In 2015, Kincaid competed at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado, finishing 16th in the snowmobile HillCross.

Kincaid’s longtime friend and competitor on the hill, Shad Free, said he learned of Kincaid’s death late Friday night. Free had known Kincaid and his wife, Kim, for the better part of two decades, even taking to competition as teammates when they were both Arctic Cat-sponsored riders, he said.

“Outgoing, big heart, truly passionate,” Free said. “In a lot of ways I would say he was one of the most passionate snowmobilers that I’ve ever known.”

Social media posts from top names and brands across the sport began flowing in Saturday morning with tributes to Kincaid’s legacy on the machines.

Arctic Cat’s post shows a photo of Kincaid launching up an incline with only wispy clouds joining him on top of the mountain.

“He was a big part of the Arctic Cat family and so much more,” the post reads. “We are honored he chose to share his passion and love of snowmobiling not only with the Arctic Cat team but also with the whole snowmobiling industry and really — anyone else he could.”

Free said Kincaid was a longtime advocate for backcountry safety, something of a poster boy for the message of preparedness for backcountry snowmobiling.

In a post last year on Kincaid’s Instagram page, a poster featured Kincaid’s image with the words: “No matter what you ride, there’s only one way to dress for success.” It listed essentials for riders: beacon, probe, shovel, food and water, phone, headlamp, extra clothes, first aid kit and fire starter.

“Know before you go!” Kincaid wrote. “Please be careful out there folks ... check avalanche reports, weather reports and be prepared.”

Contact Chance Q. Cook at 732-7065, sports@jhnewsandguide.com.

Sports Editor Chance Cook has lived in rural Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Butte, Montana. He is no stranger to spending time in the woods chasing animals. If you see him out, challenge him to a game of pool. Send tips and questions.

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