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Avalanche Air Bag Originated in Deer Carcass

Last weekend, Swiss engineer and leading avalanche-safety expert Manuel Genswein was near Salt Lake City to showoff a device meant for surviving a deadly snow slide — a set of airbags designed into a backpack for floating atop avalanche debris, states the Associated Press.Skiers hit a rip cord to activate the air bags. Genswein said the $1,000 air bag system is making its introduction inNorth America after years of use around Europe, where he says it hasproven 98 percent effective. Snow-safety experts credit the concept to a German hunter and forestryofficial who in the 1970s found himself held aloft in an avalanche bythe carcass of a deer he was carrying around his shoulders.

Although the backpack will not give users the added workout of hauling a bloated deer carcass, it does smell better. Check out I Will Survive, an account of avalanche survival from our September 2004 issue.

--Stayton Bonner

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