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    Are You Avalanche Ready?

    Posted by Ross Halvorson
    on Friday, November 14, 2014

     It’s a must-do for anyone planning to head out west for a ride. Learning avalanche rescue skills is not unlike swimming – it’s a skill that might just save your life, and the lives of others. And to be frank, snowmobilers need to do a better job with it. 

    The 2013-14 snowmobile season saw snowmobilers once again take over the top spot on the avalanche fatalities list in the U.S., surpassing backcountry skiers and snowboarders. And more often than not, those deadly slides are triggered by our own ineptitude in recognizing terrain and rescue technique, or just plain misplaced machismo. 

    I recently attended my third avalanche training class in the past 13 months at Rob’s Performance Motorsports in Johnsons Creek, Wis. ( You might think that’s overkill, but trust me, those I ride with in the mountains do not. Think about it… is there such thing as your riding buddies being too prepared to dig you out from an avalanche burial? That’s what I thought. 

     Ski-Doo has again teamed with Avalanche 1 to provide free avalanche training at a number of different dealerships around North America. If you have any plans to go out west at any time, I strongly encourage you to attend one of these classes. 

    Instructor, Mike Duffy from Avalanche 1 (, is one of the leading avalanche rescue instructors in the country. His no-nonsense style is built around snowmobiling in the mountains. At his classes you’ll get hands-on experience using locator beacons, avalanche probes and shovels. You’ll also learn keys to identifying avalanche terrain, and pulling off effective rescues of single and multiple burials. Mike’s classes are the most informative and educational that I’ve been to. 

     Here are a few avalanche fun facts!

    • Avalanches can occur on any slope of 30 degrees or greater, and are most common on slopes ranging between 35 and 50 degrees slope.
    • You are 50 percent more likely to have an avalanche-free ride if you have a female in your riding group. (She already thinks your buddies are idiots and she’s not afraid to tell them!)
    • You should take your batteries out of your avalanche transceiver (beacon) when storing for maximum product life and effectiveness.
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