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Topic: Growth & Planning     Department: Two Weeks in the West

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by JONATHAN THOMPSON

The snowy slopes of the West's mountains have not been friendly to backcountry travelers this winter. Fourteen people perished in avalanche-related accidents between November 2007 and Jan. 9 of this year; during the same months last winter, there were half as many fatalities. If past trends are any indication, this could continue to be an especially deadly season, since January, February and March are typically the worst months for avalanche accidents. And snowmobilers, statistically speaking, are most in danger: Beginning in the 1990s, snowmobilers died in avalanches at a higher rate than any other group, a trend that continues today. This season, five "sledders" have already died in avalanches

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