Friday, February 4, 2022

Adirondack outdoor conditions (2/4): Avalanche warning

outdoor conditions logoThe following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • Snow report as of 02/01: All ski trails are skiable. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen. There is 31.5in of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost and approximately 4ft of snow at higher elevations. Note: Conditions may have changed since last report. Expect additional snow.

Sable Highlands CE Tract: Roads are closed to cars and trucks due to snow conditions. Snowmobile trails are open and the parking lots are intermittently plowed.

  • Barnes Pond Road is closed through the end of mud season and the winter lock is on the gate.
  • Reminder: the D&H Road is Closed To Snowmobiles – this is not a public snowmobile trail.

Kushaqua CE Tract: Roads are closed to cars and trucks due to snow conditions. Snowmobile trails in the vicinity are open, including the spur loop off C7.

Last Week:

Santa Clara Tract CE: A logging operation is trucking over a short stretch of the C8 Snowmobile Corridor just west of the McCavanaugh Pond Club main gate. Trucking and logging operations are anticipated to continue through the duration of the winter. Snowmobilers sharing this short stretch of road with truck traffic are urged to reduce their speed and exercise caution.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest and Chain Lakes CE: Gates are open for the C8A (Newcomb to Indian Lake) and C8A to C7B (Newcomb to Long Lake) snowmobile trails.

Clinton County: Snowmobile trails are now open.

General Notices

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry Information page for more trip-planning resources, including travel information, weather resources, and seasonally-specific information about Adirondack recreation.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for select summit forecasts. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation. Check wind chill temperatures and prepare for colder, windier summits.

Winter Conditions: Be prepared for winter conditions. Snow and ice are present throughout the region. Be prepared with warm, waterproof layers, extra layers, and proper gear for snow and ice, including snowshoes, microspikes and crampons. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 8 inches. Remember that conditions will change as you gain elevation and cold, wet weather poses a significant risk of hypothermia.

Snow Depths: Below is snow depth data from 02/01 & 02/02 at a variety of regional sample points. Find more data on snowfall and snow depth. Please note that recent snowfalls may affect these numbers.

  • Northwoods Club Rd, Minerva: 11.4in
  • Goodnow Flow Road, Newcomb: 12.6in
  • Tahawus, Upper Works, Newcomb: 14.9in
  • Blue Ridge Road, Newcomb: 15.6in
  • Elk Lake Road, North Hudson: 13.3in
  • Lake Colden Caretaker Cabin: 31.5in
  • Cedar River Road, Indian Lake: 13.3in
  • Sagamore Road, Long Lake: 11.3in
  • Haskell Road, Ohio: 12.4in
  • North Lake Road, Ohio: 14.8in

Seasonal Roads: Although some seasonal access roads remain open, the use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended and many seasonal access roads have transitioned to snowmobile use. Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and State webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the physical abilities and experience of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline. Remember that winter conditions will likely slow your travel. Using reliable sources, research the route. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who can report you missing if you do not return on time.

Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers, insulating layers, and waterproof, windproof outer layers. Wear a hat, mittens or gloves, and a buff. Gaiters can help keep your lower legs warm and prevent snow from getting in your boots. Bring additional layers. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for cold weather by watching DEC’s How To video.

Manage your time wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp. Set a turnaround time and stick to it.

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up headlamp or alternate source of light. Even if you plan to be done before sunset, bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Don’t rely on your phone’s flashlight. Using your phone’s flashlight will drain the battery quickly.

Share the Trails: Many multi-use trails are enjoyed by a variety of users in the winter. Be respectful of everyone’s experience by following winter trail etiquette. Wear snowshoes to prevent postholing and keep ski and snowshoe tracks separate when possible. Let faster users pass and yield to downhill skiers as they have built up momentum. Move to the side of the trail to let snowmobiles pass, and snowmobilers slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. Please pick up after yourself and pets.

Avalanche Advisory

Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions.

Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws. Approximately three to four feet of snow has accumulated at high elevations in the High Peaks, with more falling through Friday. Due to high winds, snow depths are deeper on leeward slopes or areas of snow deposits, such as gullies. As snow accumulates over time, it develops distinct layers formed by rain and melt/freeze cycles. When new snow falls onto previous snowpack, it adds weight and downward pressure. Lower snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of recent snows, creating conditions conducive to avalanches.

Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. While the majority of steep, open terrain is found in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County.

Check the Safety & Education section below for precautions to take when recreating in avalanche territory.

If you are planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory, research the route ahead of time and contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or contact a local guide. Skiers and snowboarders should assess their own experience level before going into the backcountry and should be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course.

Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on the DEC website.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

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