Next week, hundreds of snowmachiners will descend upon the Hoodoo Mountains north of Paxson for the annual Arctic Man event, and avalanche forecasters want them to know that conditions are especially unpredictable this spring.

"The mountains are shedding." warned Debra McGhan of the Alaska Avalanche Information Center. "It might be stable in the morning, but by afternoon things are letting go."

On Saturday, two brothers were buried in an avalanche while riding not far from where Arctic Man takes place. No one was hurt, but it was a reminder of the dangers.

It's a transitional year for Arctic Man, which will not be hosting its classic ski races this year. The unusual race has been held nearly every year since 1986, but interest has slowed. The event instead will focus on snowmachine races.

Arctic Man is also described as a giant outdoor playground for snowmachiners, with easy access to snowy mountain terrain. Even without the ski/snowboard races, Race Director Howard Thies says parking spots have been registered for nearly 500 recreational vehicles.

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center normally has some officials at Arctic Man to discuss avalanche safety, but this year the non-profit group won't be there.

"You kinda have to be your own forecaster and gather as much info as you can." McGhan said. "Make sure you are taking all the proper safety equipment; make sure you go with partners that are familiar with how everybody operates, because your decisions can affect everyone in your party."

McGhan encourages anyone thinking of going into the mountains first check conditions at the center's website.

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