The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is advising backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks to be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions this season.
Avalanches can occur anywhere when certain conditions are met, and due to recent changes in the weather, winter recreationists need to be aware of the risk. So what does this mean for you? Let’s break down what an avalanche is and how to stay safe when engaging in activities where avalanches are a possibility.
Here’s What You Need to Know About Avalanches
Avalanches can happen when snow accumulates on a mountainside due to heavy precipitation or windy weather and then suddenly releases due to pressure changes or external forces, such as people skiing or snowboarding too close. Avalanches can reach speeds of up to 80 mph and can carry tons of debris, including trees, rocks, and other objects that they come into contact with along the way.
Since the region just experienced another winter storm that has brought several inches of fresh snow, it’s essential to understand the dangers associated with avalanches and how you can protect yourself from them when you are out on the slopes.
Proper preparation and education are the best ways to stay safe from an avalanche. Here are a few tips on how to prepare and ensure safety:
- Be aware of current weather conditions and take any warnings seriously
- Research your route ahead of time
- Never travel alone
- Make sure everyone in your group knows basic avalanche rescue techniques
- Before heading out, make sure you have informed others about your destination and return plans
- Wear appropriate clothing such as helmets, gloves, goggles, and warm layers so you can stay warm if stranded in cold temperatures for an extended period of time
- Have a first aid kit handy just in case you get caught in an avalanche or need medical attention due to other reasons while outdoors
- Stay on trails and stay away from steep slopes
As always, safety should come first when exploring the great outdoors this winter! Take extra precautions on slides or steep, open terrain, as these locations are more likely prone to avalanches, especially during major snowfalls. Have fun, but more importantly, stay safe!
- NY State DEC – DEC Advises of Avalanche Risk in Adirondacks Due to Warmer Weather