VALLEY COUNTY -- The Tamarack Ski Patrol was called out this week to rescue not an injured skier, but a sheep buried up to its head in snow. The sheep had been trapped out of bounds for at least two weeks and was in desperate need of help.
The Simboli family of Boise had been backcountry skiing on Sunday when they stumbled upon the sheep.
"We were skiing in the trees and I came around a tree and looked to my left and for whatever reason I looked right at him. It was just literally his head sticking out of the snow," said Chris Simboli.
Cold, lethargic, and severely dehydrated, the family fed the sheep the only thing they had on them -- a granola bar.
"He was letting all of us pet him," said 14-year-old Melanie Simboli. "He was being completely calm. I think he was just happy somebody found him."
"I was amazed the family found the sheep," said Spencer LaMarche with the Tamarack Ski Patrol.
LaMarche believes the sheep had been buried for at least two weeks because there were no tracks around it. The sheep had gotten lost while summer grazing.
"We had a big storm a couple of weeks ago where we got 10 inches overnight, and it probably got trapped in that storm and just laid down and gave up." said LaMarche.
However, Tamarack's Ski Patrol wasn't giving up on the sheep.
"We just kind of treated it like we'd treat a person," said LaMarche. "We had to do a little bit of hand-digging. Then checking to see if it was still alive, digging its pupils (eyes) out so I could see if it was responsive at all."
LaMarche says the sheep's eyes were covered in ice. It was barely responsive, which required ski patrol to lift the sheep out of the snow and onto its rescue toboggan.
"We bound its legs like you would any other sheep, and then put it in the toboggan and strapped it down, and started the process of trying to get it out of there," said LaMarche.
LaMarche says it took more than an hour-and-a-half to ski out. The Simboli children led the way.
"Being an animal lover, I couldn't leave him there to die," said Melanie Simboli.
Lee O'Dell, who is known in Valley County for raising sheep, received a call from the Donnelly Fire Department to help care for the sheep.
"We've never had one that bad, no," said O'Dell. "We think she was in really good shape. That's the only reason why she's probably still alive."
O'Dell says he's been hand-feeding the sheep and giving her electrolytes. However, he's concerned because she hasn't stood on her own yet.
"If she's going to survive she's got to get up and eat on her own. Right now it's 50/50," said O'Dell. "If she survives her name will be Tamarack."