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Avalanche Safety For Snowmobile Riders


Fri Jan 29 00:00:00 MST 2010

Snowmobile riders have unique avalanche risk-factors built into their sport—speed and power.

Avalanche experts say sled riders need to recognize and compensate for the unique risks built into their sport.

Every snowmobile rider should carry a shovel, probe, and avalanche transceiver, know how to use them and practice regularly. There are other simple behaviors that will reduce the risk of death by avalanche too.

For example, in Montana many avalanche deaths could have been avoided if only one snowmobile rider was on the slope at a time. This simple precaution can save lives. Additional fatalities could be prevented if snowmobile riders avoided the risky sport of 'high marking.'

Experts at Montana's avalanche centers also say that the number of fatalities due to avalanches could be reduced if all snowmobile riders:

  • carried rescue gear,
  • knew how to use it, and
  • took avalanche training.

Avalanche training helps a snowmobile rider to prepare to make informed decisions based on real data instead of wishful thinking.  For information on available training, go to Montana's avalanche Web sites. Use the search words: Montana avalanche information.

The state's three avalanche information Web sites can also be valuable training tools themselves for those who routinely check the reports and view the video and photo illustrations of avalanche conditions.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks's Parks Division Recreational Trails Program supports the Montana Avalanche Centers with RTP grant funds. In 2010, Montana's three Avalanche Centers will receive grants totaling more than $74,000. For more information on RTP grants go to the FWP Web site at on the Recreation tab and click on Grant Programs.