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Staying Safe During Avalanche Season

By Adam Behrman, KBOI
Published On: Dec 05 2012 07:27:06 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 05 2012 10:51:52 PM CST

A Lewiston man survives an anvalance near McCall and credits his safety gear for saving his life

BOISE, Idaho -

A recent snowslide happened on the ski slopes of Sun Valley, and another near McCall where a Lewiston snowmobiler credits his safety equipment for saving his life. Recreationalists face avalanche threats, but snowmobilers are especially vulnerable.

"Snowmobilers tend to move through the snow pack much faster than skiers. They change their elevation. They change their aspect. They change their terrain faster than skiers do. So they're not in touch with the snow like the ski community," says Rich Gummersall, OHV education coordinator for Idaho Parks and Recreation.

Snowmobilers can counteract this by taking a little extra time when they enter a new slope to make sure that the snow has the strength to support them. In addition, having the right kind of gear can save your life.

Make sure you have an avalanche beacon so your friends can find you if you get buried in an avalanche, It's also vital to have a probe that can reach deep into the snow to locate the victim, and a snow shovel so you can dig them out.

"If we can get to a victim within 15 minutes we stand about an 85 percent chance of rescuing them alive," says Gummersall.

Idaho Parks and Recreation offer numerous free snowmobile safety courses across the state throughout the winter. If you would like to attend one, you can find more information at http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/activities/snowmobiling

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