If you plan to downhill ski, snowboard, or otherwise recreate in Adirondack backcountry or on steep, open terrain this upcoming weekend make sure to read the below info and then further brush up on avalanche safety.
Conditions are Conducive to Avalanches Right Now
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the northern Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, and parts of Vermont until 1pm today, February 4. Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls, and during thaws.
Due to high winds, snow depths are deeper on leeward slopes or areas of snow deposits. Over time, the accumulated snow forms layers from the melt and freeze cycles, and when new snow falls onto previous snowpack, it adds weight and a downward pressure. As the snow layers up, it can create conditions ripe for avalanches.
According to a recent DEC press release, approximately three to four feet of snow has accumulated at the high elevations in the High Peaks, where most of the avalanche-prone terrain can be found in the Park. Although, avalanche conditions can occur wherever and whenever the snow, slope, and weather elements come together in just such a way.
“We encourage anyone planning to ski, board, or traverse backcountry slides and other avalanche-prone terrain in the Adirondack High Peaks, to exercise caution and be prepared for avalanche conditions,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in the statement.
Here Are the Precautions to Take If You’re Heading Out There This Weekend
- Cross-country skiers and snowboarders should stay on designated trails and avoid steep slopes
- Know the terrain, weather, and snow conditions
- Dig multiple snow pits to test stability and don’t 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 – one person at a time
- Ski and ride near trees, not in the center of slides or open areas
- Carry a shovel, probes, and transceiver with fresh batteries
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques
- Don’t travel alone
- Inform someone where you’re going and when you expect to return
You can also contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for the most up-to-date information if you’re planning to visit an avalanche-prone area. See here for contact info.