Monday, February 24, 2014

Checking Out Ski Conditions After The Thaw

Phil at VICLast week’s rain and thaw bummed out backcountry skiers, but things could have been worse. We still have a solid base, but we could use several inches of powder on top of it.

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.

On Saturday, I took the council’s advice and skied on groomed trails at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center. My friend Steve and I spent about two and a half hours on a variety of trails. Unsurprisingly, the ones that had been groomed that morning were in the best shape. Some that had not been groomed were hard-packed, but all of the trails were skiable.

On Sunday, after my friend left town, I went up the Jackrabbit Ski Trail in Lake Placid. From Whiteface Inn Road, I climbed about three-quarters of a mile to the top of a steep hill and turned around. This section of the Jackrabbit still has plenty of base, but it’s rock solid.

I made a video of my descent on the Jackrabbit. It took a little less than three minutes. You can tell by the clattering of my skis that the trail is boilerplate. I apologize for the annoying rattle throughout the video. My guess is that it’s the GoPro knocking around.

Incidentally, the Ski Touring Council says all sections of the Jackrabbit remain skiable, “but great care is needed as all downhills are very fast.” It recommends against the mile-and-a-half descent to McKenzie Pond until we receive more snow.

Photo by Stephen Williams: The author on the Skidder Trail at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center.


YouTube video

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

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