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Wed., Dec. 8, 2010, 9:12 a.m.

Early-season avalanches claiming victims

Larry Dowd ( back center ) and James Mittelstadt ( rear right ) of Rathdrum, Idaho learn about avalanche beacons in an Avalanche Awareness Class during a demonstration at the Fourth of July snowmobile area today.  (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
Larry Dowd ( back center ) and James Mittelstadt ( rear right ) of Rathdrum, Idaho learn about avalanche beacons in an Avalanche Awareness Class during a demonstration at the Fourth of July snowmobile area today. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

WINTER SPORTS -- The season's first big snow storms had barely blanketed the mountains before this year's first avalanche deaths were recorded in the West.

Three people already have been killed.

On Sunday, a Colorado backcountry skier died in a 15-foot avalanche in Clear Creek County between Denver and Breckenridge.

An in-bounds slide Nov. 22 at Colorado's Wolf Creek Ski Area killed the ski patrol director.

A Nov. 27 slide triggered by a snowmobiler on the Utah-Wyoming border killed a 54-year-old man.

Good snow coverage always makes the lure of backcountry skiing, boarding and snowmobiling nearly irresistible. But try to play it smart.

Avalanche advisories, updated weekly, are a click away on the S-R's Outdoors web page.

Avalanche awareness classes are being scheduled in the Inland Northwest. Check the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center website for updates and schedules for avalanche education classes.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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