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Avalanche course big success

CAC now plans launch of CD and French language site

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Since the Canadian Avalanche Association launched its Internet avalanche-training program six months ago more than 18,000 have logged on for the course.

"The response has been way more than we thought it would be," said Ian Tomm, operations manager for the CAA.

"It’s a little overwhelming but it is great."

The site was put up last August after close to three years of development. Funded federally, it was born out of the need to address the number of deaths due to avalanches. In 2003, 29 people were killed – the highest number in more than 30 years.

Over the last 10 years, an average of 14 to 15 people have died annually in snow slides in Canada.

The site "http://www.avalanche.ca>www.avalanche.ca < takes users through a first responder course teaching participants how to rescue companions and themselves after an avalanche. It also helps users think about planning a trip into avalanche country.

However, said Tomm, it is not a replacement for a field course and those who are planning trips into avalanche country should still consider taking a more extensive course.

Most of the users are young and from Canada. But people have logged in from all over the world.

"Nothing like this exists anywhere so we are getting hits from Poland, China, Japan, in fact many mountainous regions," said Tomm.

It’s hoped more sponsors will come forward to support the site in the coming months. Tomm said a CD release of the information is planned for next month for anyone who does not have a high-speed Internet connection and a French language site will be available in the coming days.

"I think what this does is capture people’s attention and leads them through a series of lessons so that basically in the end it helps people realize that it is a pretty serious game out in the mountains and you need to have the right training," said Tomm.

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