Snowmobilers are facing up to a new reality. When avalanches happen, they are the likely victims.|
Experts say they need to get smarter, and better prepared.
"All you have to do is look at the statistics on paper. Snowmobilers are the key group to get killed now," says Curt Smith of Pleasant View.
"There's just a lot of friends that we know, that we had, that have died," says Shane Walton of Mountain Green.
There's finally a pretty good blanket of snow in the higher mountains, so this weekend is likely to bring out large numbers of snowmobilers.
And avalanche danger in some places is high.
Here's something that should cause a snowmobiler to stop and think before he cranks the throttle and heads into steep terrain.
A few years ago, avalanche deaths of those riding on snowmobiles were rare.
Last winter, avalanches killed 35 in the United States. More than half were on snowmobiles.
It used to be mainly cross-country skiers who got into trouble in the back-country -- sometimes big trouble -- getting swallowed up by one of nature's most frightening phenomena.
But more and more, it's snowmobilers. New, powerful machines put them in harm's way, and they sometimes wind up fleeing for their lives.
The cross-country skiing community has spent decades developing the lore of avalanches and learning to stay alive. The snowmobiling community is just starting to catch up.
The state offers free classes to snowmobilers. And there's a lot of safety information available. Follow the links above for more information.
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