Thursday, March 13, 2014

High Peaks Gets Up To 2 Feet Of Snow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASkiers finally got the big dump they had been waiting for all winter. What’s more, the snow that fell was light powder, not the heavy stuff.

I’d say we got at least a foot in Saranac Lake. That would be in line with North Country snowfall totals reported by the National Weather Service: 16 inches in Duane Center (northern Franklin County), 14 inches in Malone, and 13 inches in Tupper Lake.

Michael Muccilli, a meteorologist with the service, said the northern parts of Herkimer and Hamilton counties got 6 to 12 inches.

And up to two feet fell in the High Peaks, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

With all this powder, skiing in the backcountry should be primo this weekend.

There is so much fresh snow, however, that you may get bogged down if you’re on a trail that hasn’t been broken in. This afternoon, I climbed through some local woods for a short descent. On the steeper pitches, the skiing was great, but as soon as the terrain mellowed, I found myself shuffling and poling. See short video below.

You might be tempted to ski one of the slides right away. However, DEC warns that the storm increased the risk of an avalanche. Indeed, many avalanches are triggered soon after a heavy snowfall. It’s always better to wait several days to give the snow a chance to settle. Even then, conditions may not be safe. You should take into account past weather events and analyze the snow by digging pits and looking for weak layers. If you don’t know how to do this, you probably shouldn’t be skiing slides.

And if you do ski a slide, you and each of your partners should bring an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel—and know how to use them.

For more information on avalanches, check out this page on DEC’s website.

Get out and enjoy the snow, but be safe.

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Phil Brown

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.




3 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Yes!!! I asked for a random Friday off over a month ago hoping spring skiing in the high peaks would be decent and that Friday is tomorrow. Talk about a stroke of good luck.

  2. Paul says:

    Good for spring skiing at the Face!

  3. Charlie S says:

    Surely it takes practice to ski down a slope,or amidst a tree-studded landscape.Me! Once the descent begins I’d be a free-falling 195 lb mass waiting for the first stationary solid object (either a tree or a rock) to come in contact with me….at however many miles per hour.I’d be over and done with like Sonny Bono is.It’s like swimming….my body sinks whereas other people are able to float.I can’t swim I can’t ski. Flying too! For the birds.My arms get too tired so I just don’t bother. It sure seems like lots of fun though and I respect you folk who go out into the world and take advantage of the outdoor moments in rain or sleet or snow,in cold or heat. Walking is my thing,hiking,and I’m very much appreciative that there’s four seasons for that.