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Introduction In the time since I was first invited to write this article several snowmobiling avalanche incidents have occurred including the first US avalanche fatality of the 1996-97 season in Utah Many of these incidents could be easily avoided with a bit of awareness and a few basic precautions Therefore in this article I will emphasize awareness and precaution rather than delve into snow science and snow stability evaluation It Could Be You or a Friend or a Relative The first step to avoiding avalanches is to take them seriously For some reason too many people think that they are immune to avalanches Or perhaps they know better but the sledding is so good that they would rather not think about avalanche danger And then there are those who think it isnt cool or macho to worry about avalanches These attitudes are found in winter recreationists of all types and they are certainly not unique to snowmobilers For snowmobilers exposure to avalanche hazards has increased rapidly in recent years High-power lightweight machines with improved traction are enabling snowmobilers to get into terrain that was once inaccessible by snowmobile Consequently snowmobilers are having to re-think their attitudes toward avalanches and their knowledge of avalanche safety A similar attitude adjustment and search for knowledge has taken place among many skiers as venturing out of bounds has become more common and among snowboarders also as their sport has grown Its time for snowmobilers to do the same For those who think avalanches are not worth worrying about here are some situations to ponder All have occurred over the past year - losing your machine or other equipment in the backcountry buried beneath a slide - watching a friend in your group get buried and not being able to execute a quick search for them - having to return from a trip and speak with the family of a friend who did not return - putting
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