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Published January 25, 2012, 10:27 PM

Avalanche rescue brings snowmobile safety to the forefront

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Hundreds of people from our area bring their sleds out west every winter for the thrill of snowmobiling in the mountains of Montana. Following two recent dramatic rescues in separate avalanches, the word is out that snowmobilers need to be prepared, and know the country before heading out.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Hundreds of people from our area bring their sleds out west every winter for the thrill of snowmobiling in the mountains of Montana. Following two recent dramatic rescues in separate avalanches, the word is out that snowmobilers need to be prepared, and know the country before heading out.

A Hanover, Minnesota man was buried by an avalanche near Cooke City, Montana. He was dug out and survived. Everyone is talking about the helmet cam video of another rescue this week out west.

Because of a helmet mounted camera, everyone is witnessing the dramatic rescue of Snowmobiler John Swanson - rescuers digging by hand to uncover his head and face, trying to make sure he can breathe.

Matt Grove – West Fargo: “As an avalanche starts, it starts small and barrel roll and tidal wave effect.”

Matt Grove of West Fargo just got back from Cooke City, Montana, the site of the avalanche that buried the Minnesota man.

Matt Grove: “It kind of brings things into perspective to know the things and safety gear and classes pay off because it can sneak up on you pretty quick.”

But Matt comes to the mountains prepared. He brings an avalanche pack.

Matt Grove: “Carry your other gear.”

A tracker beacon, shovel and probe, and perhaps the most important surprise tool - A snowmobiler's savior. Their very own parachute of sorts. It could make the difference of life and death, with an avalanche of snow closing in on a snowmobiler.

Matt Grove: “Depending on snow pack conditions whether it is warm and cold most common is slab avalanche weak layer and snow on top of it slides down the mountain and gets larger.”

A back pack full of treasure, that Matt and his buddies hope they never have to use. U-Motors in Fargo not only carries avalanche safety gear, but every fall U-Motors hosts a special class for area snowmobilers on avalanches.

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