Posts Tagged ‘backcountry skiing’
“We can’t go wrong with Wright” was Ron’s proposal for an early spring backcountry ski destination. At seven miles, round trip, a ski tour to the summit of Wright Peak is one of the shorter trips in the High Peaks. But shorter isn’t easier and, as we soon found out, things can go wrong.
Our plan would require a combination of skills: we would start by cross-country skiing on the rolling terrain of Algonquin Trail, a narrow hiking trail starting at the Adirondak Loj parking lot. When the pitch became too great, we would put climbing skins on our skis for awhile, then replace our skis with crampons for the final push to the summit. For the descent, we would ski down the newly-fallen powder on the Wright Peak Ski Trail using alpine techniques.
As we approached the top, the towering trees of the lower elevations were replaced by the dwarfs of the Krumholtz zone, where the stunted and deformed trees looked like a bonsai garden.
At tree line, we met a couple of Canadian skiers who warned us of the treacherous winds and ice-covered rocks above. Rather than hike over the top of the mountain, Ron suggested that we follow the contour around the peak, traversing between the Lilliputian trees until we intersected the ski trail on the other side. » Continue Reading.
“This is one of my favorite trails. It’s just beautiful,” she remarked as we headed into the woods next to the Schroon River. “And you never see people.”
Kim and her husband, Ethan Rouen, joined me in early January for an eight-mile round trip from the Sharp Bridge State Campground to Round Pond in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. Although she and Ethan had hiked the trail in other seasons, neither of them had skied it, and both were curious to see if it would be as satisfying in winter. » Continue Reading.
Better late than never. I had wanted to ski the Irishtown Trail on St. Patrick’s Day because, well, it just seemed appropriate. But as Robert Burns observed, the best laid schemes of mice and men don’t always go as planned. My trip was postponed by a few days, but the delay was a blessing in disguise, since the trail was now topped by a few inches of fresh dry powder from a post-St. Patty’s snow shower.
Starting on Route 28N, the trail traverses Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest for six miles, passing several ponds, and terminating at Irishtown. My goal, though, was to turn around at Stony Pond, a four-mile round trip that climbs about 700 feet. Beyond the pond, the trail is frequented by snowmobilers who access it from Irishtown, and skiers are advised not to compete with them for the trail. For a longer trip, a better option is to ski on the frozen surface of Stony Pond, circumnavigating its shoreline. » Continue Reading.
I skied Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj on Friday. Conditions were very good below tree line; above, there was a lot of wind slab and ice. Bring MicroSpikes or crampons if you are headed to the actual summit. The last signpost was about six feet above the snow. In a good winter it’s buried, or nearly so. Thanks to Ron Konowitz and his helpers for removing blowdown on the ski trail below Indian Falls and shoveling snow to improve conditions. Ron is the president of the Adirondack Powder Skier Association.
I had lots to do on Saturday, but just couldn’t say ‘no.’ The blue sky and 40 degree weather was too much of a siren call, so I grabbed my skis and headed to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. This may be my last chance to ski for the season, so the errands will just have to wait.
The Siamese Ponds area is deservedly one of the most popular spots in the southern Adirondacks for backcountry skiing, containing routes for skiers of all abilities. My late start and the impending darkness meant that today’s choice would have to be short and fast, so I picked Botheration Pond as my destination. I started at the Old Farm Clearing parking lot, where skiers compete each weekend for the 30 or so parking spaces, but today there are only a few other cars. I won’t see any of their occupants though – for the next two hours, I’ll share the trails with only chickadees and an occasional squirrel. » Continue Reading.
Unfortunately, there are no sizable snowstorms in this week’s forecast. We got a dusting of snow last night, and we may get a total of an inch or so over the next few days. Small snow showers also are predicted later in the week.
The Adirondack Ski Touring Council is recommending that skiers stick to groomed trails until we get more snow. “The only exception is that it never warmed up all that much at the elevation of Lake Colden, so skiing there is still pretty good—just not so good getting there,” the council says on its website.
I went skiing both Saturday and Sunday to check out the post-thaw conditions.
My neighbor Tim Peartree and I skied through two mountain passes. The first, Avalanche Pass, is one of the most popular ski trips in the Adirondacks. From Heart Lake, it’s about four miles to the top of the pass and an additional 0.6 miles to Avalanche Lake. » Continue Reading.
I came across numerous small slides, such as the one in this photograph, on N and NW aspects at slopes as low as 25 degrees.
Whooping and shooting cracks were prevalent. I was skiing the trees but any turns made near a convex roll produced a small slide. If you venture into avalanche terrain make sure you have the knowledge to assess the risk, know proper travel techniques, and are carrying a beacon, probe, shovel, and the knowledge to use them.
From Adirondak Loj Road, I started by skiing up South Meadow Road. On Saturday afternoon, I had skied the road and the Marcy Dam Truck Trail as far as Marcy Dam. The road had been in great shape for skiing, but the truck trail had a lot of exposed rocks.
What a difference a day makes. The extra snow was enough to bury virtually all the rocks. Also, Forest Ranger Jim Giglinto cut through the worst of a tree that had fallen across the trail. It’s now possible to slide over the tree with skis on. After a few more inches of snow, you probably won’t even notice it. » Continue Reading.
As usual this winter, I was worried about the amount of snow cover and so was glad to discover that the trail has been skied a lot in recent days. There were well-packed ski tracks all the way to the pond. Snowshoers also have been using the trail. I want to thank them for hiking to the side of the ski tracks. » Continue Reading.
Earlier this winter, after several long days in the office, I went to bed dreaming of my first backcountry ski trip of the season, a jaunt to High Rock in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Conditions would be perfect. Over the last few days, we had received eight inches of fluffy powder.
Then I woke up. Outside, it was twenty-four below zero, according to my Weather Channel app. Like any sensible person, I immediately broadcast this fact to Facebook. A few people suggested I postpone my trip.
“I have skied at 20 below, but I was 14 and foolish. Stay home, for god’s sake,” posted a former colleague.
But most of my Facebook friends were surprisingly indifferent to the possibility of my freezing to death.
“Burrrrrr & Enjoy!” wrote one. » Continue Reading.
We got several inches of light snow over the weekend, so I went to the Jackrabbit Trail on my lunch hour Monday to check out the ski conditions. I skied the two miles from McKenzie Pond Road to McKenzie Pond. The woods were beautiful, with fluffy snow adorning the branches of the evergreens. The trail looked nice, too.
Unfortunately, there was little or no base underneath the fluff. For the most part, this was not a problem. In several places, though, roots and rocks lurked beneath the surface. The diciest spots were on two small downhills on the return trip. Both sections have rocks. I took these slowly. If the trail gets skied and the snow scraped off, I imagine the downhills will get worse. » Continue Reading.
The Tug Hill region east of Lake Ontario got clobbered by a lake-effect snowstorm Tuesday. I was hoping we’d get a decent snowfall in Saranac Lake, but we received only a little more than a dusting. The woods on Baker Mountain looked pretty this morning, but they would have made for ugly skiing.
The western Adirondacks, however, picked up several inches of fresh snow.
Chris Tapper, business manager of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company in Old Forge, said the Old Forge area got about five inches of light snow. The area now has about eight inches on the ground, and Tapper said most trails favored by Nordic enthusiasts should be skiable.
“Wider skis are going to be the tool of choice, because it’s light, fluffy snow,” Tapper said.
Rick Kovacs, owner of the Wanakena General Store, said Wanakena area received about six inches of snow Tuesday on top of a two-to-three-inch base. He said skiing should be good on most trails. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued an advisory today reporting that the recent snowstorm provided great conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry. Backcountry visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.
Snow depths range from 8 – 20 inches or more. The deepest snows are in the western and southwestern Adirondacks and the thinner depths in the northeastern section. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations like the High Peaks and other mountains over 3,000 feet. » Continue Reading.
It was my first ski of the season. November 12th isn’t my earliest start to the ski season, but I was feeling pretty good about it.
Not surprisingly, I ran into Ron Konowitz, president of the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. It was Ron’s thirteenth day on skis.
We talked for several minutes about the association’s campaign to maintain ski glades in the Forest Preserve. Adirondack Almanack reported on this initiative back in May. Since then, the association has been meeting with environmental activists and government officials to drum up support.
This winter the state-owned Whiteface ski area will debut a new (and as yet un-named) glade on Lookout Mountain. The 1,500 foot long expert glade will be cut half-way down Hoyt’s High and will also connect the Summit Chair lift. The development of the new glade is expected to begin this week. Once completed, the glade will add an additional 4.7 acres to the mountain’s already 283 acres of skiable terrain and 3,430 of vertical, the most vertical east of the Rockies.
This is the first new trail added to Whiteface Mountain since the opening of Lookout Mountain in 2008. Other mountain improvements include the addition of 35 low energy snow guns that will provide efficient snow coverage on Easy Street, Broadway and Excelsior. The mountain has also purchased an energy efficient boom fan snow gun that will be used to cover the mountain’s Lower Valley trail. » Continue Reading.
At a public meeting in Saranac last week, several skiers said the glades on Lyon offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the Adirondack Park.
“We’re not looking to cut down mature forest; we’re looking to maintain what’s already there,” said Dean Schneller, a lawyer representing the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. » Continue Reading.