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Avalanche project aims to save snowmobilers’ lives through education about risks

Snowmobilers heading into big-mountain terrain will soon be able to take advantage of information from a new project aimed at preventing deaths and injuries in big-mountain terrain across western Canada.

Canadian Avalanche Centre director Ian Tomm said the three-year project is necessary because high-tech snowmobiles are allowing people into potentially dangerous areas.

"All of a sudden we’re finding that even entry-level snowmobilers nowadays can go places where advanced snowmobilers 10 years could not," he said.

The aim of the federally funded program is to ensure snowmobilers have the same level of safety education about the risks of slides that backcountry skiers have been getting for decades, Tomm said.

"We need to develop that culture of avalanche safety and awareness that’s developed over the last 30 years in the skiing community."

The project will start this year with research into the snowmobiling community through a partnership with Simon Fraser University and work with provincial snowmobiling organizations to do trail surveys.

By the next snow season, information targeting snowmobilers will be available in newspapers, brochures and the Internet, and a network of instructors will provide two- and four-day courses in the field, Tomm said.

A snowmobiler died at the beginning of the snow season north of Prince George.


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