Avalanche Risk in Adirondacks

Close up of snow covered hill with powder snow and ice mid air

A word of caution for winter adventurers.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is advising downhill skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts that fluctuating temperatures have increased the risk of an avalanche in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks. The Adirondacks have received 18 to 26 inches of new snow in the past two weeks on top of the previous snowpack. Due to high winds, snows depths are deeper on some slopes.

Here is more from the DEC news release:

The majority of avalanches in the United States occur in the western mountains. However, avalanches do occur in New York and can have dire consequences. One person was killed and five people were injured in an avalanche while they were skiing a slide on Wright Peak in the High Peaks region in February 2000.

Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. While the majority of steep open terrain is found in the High Peaks, avalanche prone terrain is also found on mountains throughout other areas in the Adirondacks, including Snow Mountain in Hamilton County.

Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws. The forecast for this weekend is for mostly sunny and partly sunny skies with temperatures climbing into the 40s. While this weather is appealing to outdoor enthusiasts it also increases the danger of avalanches.

DEC reminds back country winter recreationists to take the following precautions when traveling in avalanche prone terrain:

  • Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on trails and away from steep slopes on summits.
  • Know the terrain, weather and snow conditions.
  • Dig multiple snow pits to conduct stability tests – do not rely on other people’s data.
  • Practice safe route finding and safe travel techniques.
  • Never ski, board, or climb with someone above or below you - only one person on the slope at a time.
  • Ski and ride near trees – not in the center of slides or other open areas.
  • Always carry a shovel, probes and a transceiver with fresh batteries.
  • Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques.
  • Never travel alone.
  • Let someone know where you are going.

Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness and safety precautions is available on DEC’s web site http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/950.html

Photo: Getty Images

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