Posts Tagged ‘Avalanches’

Monday, February 10, 2020

History Shows Adirondack Avalanche Risks Are Real

Avalanche anatomy illustration

The storm on Thursday and Friday left power out for thousands of Adirondackers and left snow depths and conditions ideal for snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter activities. But it also left a potentially deadly threat on steep open terrain – the threat of avalanche.

The majority of avalanches in the U.S. occur out west, but avalanches do occur in the northeast. Much of the steep open terrain is found in the High Peaks, but avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County. DEC warned the public Friday about the increased potential for avalanches. It’s a warning that history tells us we should take seriously.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Hurricanes, Slides, Avalanches and Backcountry Access

Photo of Angel Slides on Wright Peak I’m not an avid skier. But I have several friends who are ski and snowboard (and in some cases mountain bike) fanatics. Most grew up in skiing families and learned to ski as young children, at small family operated ski areas like Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake and Titus Mountain in Malone.

They’re people who love powder enough to climb a mountain for it, seeking out the backcountry where, as one friend likes to say, “The powder is plentiful. The lift lines are nonexistent. And I have the whole darn hill to myself.”

They hike marked, as well as unmarked trails, where nothing is groomed; often trekking up mountains in remote, inhospitable areas, for miles, intent on conquering a slope or slide that’s not part of any ski resort. And while I admire their courage and determination, unlike them, I thank God for the mountains. But thank goodness for ski lifts. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Avalanches Reported in Adirondack High Peaks

Avalanche anatomy illustration There has been a skier triggered avalanche and other avalanche activity observed in the High Peaks. No one was caught in the skier triggered avalanche. No other information was immediately available.

Last Thursday, January 17th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a warning of an increased risk of avalanches in the Adirondacks.  The alert reminded backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who traverse slides and other steep open terrain to be aware of the risk of avalanche. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Avalanche Risk Elevated In The Adirondacks

big january snowNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides and other steep open terrain in the Adirondacks must be aware of the risk of avalanche this weekend. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 17, 2017

DEC Issues Avalanche Advisory For Adirondacks

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is advising backcountry downhill skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts that fluctuating temperatures of late have increased the risk of an avalanche in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks.

“Recent storms have resulted in a significant amount of new snow, and we expect an increase in temperatures and the number of recreational enthusiasts visiting the High Peaks to snowshoe, cross-country ski, and enjoy the pristine surroundings,” a statement to the press by DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “We are cautioning anyone planning to traverse backcountry slides and other avalanche-prone terrain in the High Peaks to be extremely careful and be prepared for avalanche conditions.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Wrong Way to Ski Wright Peak

Ron ascending Wright Peak“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.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Signs of an Unstable Snowpack in the Backcountry

Adirondack AvalanchesWhile out skiing yesterday afternoon I saw several signs that the snowpack is unstable and extreme caution should be used if you are tempted to head towards the slides after this recent snowfall.

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.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adirondack Climate Change: Rainfall Trends

A significant part of climate is precipitation, and fundamental to any discussion on the impact that global warming is having on a region’s climate would have to include possible changes to the rain and snowfall patterns. While unusually prolonged periods of precipitation can turn a backcountry camping trip into a nightmare, discourage golfers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and frustrate anyone trying to put a new roof on his/her home, or a coat of stain on the deck, too much rainfall, especially concentrated over a short span of time, can wreak havoc with the environment. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dozens of New Landslides Reported in the High Peaks

Dozens of new landslides have been reported in the High Peaks following heavy rains and winds from the remnants of Hurricane Irene which reached the Eastern Adirondacks as a Tropical Storm on Sunday.

Regular Alamanack contributor and Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown snapped a photo of a new slide on Wright Peak, near Angel Slide. Formally two adjoining scars, Angel Slide is a well-known destination for expert backcountry skiers named in honor of Toma Vracarich who was killed in an avalanche there in 2000. The slide now includes a third route, longer than the rest. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Avalanches at Whiteface, Colden Trap Dyke

A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Avalanche Danger in the Adirondacks

Avalanches occur often in the Adirondacks and they can have deadly consequences. Be aware of the danger of avalanches and take necessary precautions when snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches.

In February of 2010  two backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche on Angel Slide, Wright Peak. The potentially deadly avalanche occurred just a month after Phil Brown wrote A Short History of Adirondack Avalanches. One of the skiers, Ian Measeck of Glens Falls, told his story to Adirondack Almanack readers here. A skier died in an avalanche on the same slide in 2000. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Wright Peak Avalanche Survivor Tells His Story

Photo of Angel Slides on Wright PeakThe Adirondack Almanack is pleased to have the unique opportunity to present the first-hand experience of Ian Measeck of Glens Falls, who along with Jamie McNeill of Vergennes, Vermont was caught in an avalanche on Angel Slide, Wright Peak on February 27th. The potentially deadly avalanche occurred just a month after Phil Brown wrote A Short History of Adirondack Avalanches. Phil reported a week ago that Angel Slide was still unsafe.

What follows is Measeck’s story in his own words: » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 1, 2010

A Short History of Adirondack Avalanches

Photo of Angel Slides on Wright PeakYou can see the Angel Slides from Marcy Dam: two adjoining bedrock scars—one wide, one thin—on the southeastern slopes of Wright Peak. They are a well-known destination for expert backcountry skiers.

The slides got their nickname following the death of Toma Vracarich. Ten years ago this month, Vracarich and three other skiers were caught in an avalanche on the wider slide. Vracarich died under the snow. He was twenty-seven. The other skiers were injured.

It remains the only avalanche fatality in the Adirondacks, but it put people on notice that the avalanche risk here is real. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Adirondack Weather: The Strength of Snow

We’ve all seen it: a branch, a fence post, a sign where the snow that fell upon it seems frozen in a perpetual state of falling off, never quite letting go. How does it do that? It’s not like snow is endowed with abs of steel, or, like a snake, has near mythical suspension abilities thanks to overlapping scales. Or does it? » Continue Reading.



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