Every winter there are conflicts between backcountry hikers and skiers. While skiing I try my best to educate hikers on the trail, but it isn’t a time when people tend to be very receptive.
I realize there are many hikers who are naïve to the world of backcountry skiing. While there are those who will never alter their behavior, I believe that with considerate education most will realize that there are a few simple things they can do that will improve trail use for all users.
I thought a quick summary of the backcountry downhill skiing situation in the High Peaks Wilderness in particular might be helpful. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
New 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.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
The Mountaineer in Keene Valley will host the Fifteenth Annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival March 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2017. Backcountry skiing – skiing on natural snow in natural terrain – combines all of the elements of touring, climbing and downhill skiing into one.
Patagonia Ambassador Zahan Billimoria will give a presentation at the Keene Arts Center on Saturday morning. Zahan is an Exum Mountain Guide and has made a ski descent of all the major Teton Peaks among several other accomplishments in the ski world. » Continue Reading.
Some time ago I came across a book titled Fifty Favorite Climbs: The Ultimate North American Tick List. The author, Mark Kroese, asked fifty celebrated climbers to reveal their favorite climbs on the continent.
Most leaned toward big or exotic routes. Conrad Anker, for example, picked an alpine rock climb on Baffin Island near the Arctic Circle. Alex Lowe chose the Grand Traverse, his eight-hour dash over seven summits in Wyoming’s Tetons.
But I was especially interested in the choice of Jeff Lowe, one of the greatest mountaineers of his generation. Lowe (no relation to Alex) has climbed all over the world and put up hundreds of first ascents. His favorite climb in North America? A four-pitch ice route on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain that overlooks the Northway. It’s called Gorillas in the Mist.
Outdoor adventure enthusiast and expert back country skier Steve Ovitt will speak on Tuesday, December 27th at 7 pm on “Getting Into Back Country Skiing.” Ovitt’s talk at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek will give attendees the info and confidence to go off trail under their own power and enjoy the Adirondack back-country in winter.
Included in Ovitt’s presentation will be anecdotes from his extensive back-country experience; info on making the transition from traditional Nordic or Alpine skiing; advice on what equipment (including safety equipment) is needed; plus he will highlights some of the best back country places to ski in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
So this is the shoulder season. The leaves are gone. It’s chilly outside, wet and gray. You don’t feel like hiking. You’re looking forward to skiing, but you don’t want to sit inside until the snow comes.
It’s a great time for mountain biking. You don’t need views, fall colors, or sunshine to enjoy riding on a well-designed trail through the woods. As for that chill in the air, you’ll warm up soon enough.
That was my thinking when I drove to Wilmington last weekend to check out some new trails off Hardy Road.
The nonprofit Barkeater Trails Alliance maintains a network of mountain-bike trails on both sides of Hardy Road, some easy, some not so. I have ridden there more than once. After Keith McKeever, a BETA volunteer, told me the group recently created two new trails, both for beginners, I drove over as soon as I had a free day.
For those who climb, Accidents in North American Climbing, issued annually by the American Alpine Club, should be required reading—not because climbers are morbid, but because they can learn from others’ mistakes, too many of which are fatal.
The 2016 edition, which was published recently, describes dozens of rock-climbing and mountaineering accidents from the previous year. Most occurred out west or in Alaska. The only incident in the Adirondacks involved a climber who fell on Wallface, a large and remote cliff in the High Peaks Wilderness.
I wrote about the Wallface accident on the Almanack soon after it happened. The climber, a 23-year-old man from Carmel, NY, plummeted 60 to 80 feet after his protection failed to hold on a popular route known as the Diagonal. State forest rangers and volunteer climbers carried out a complicated rescue and managed to get the victim to a hospital that night. He was knocked unconscious in the fall and suffered a deep head gash, but he was able to leave the hospital early the next day.
As usual, we were chasing snow. In the High Peaks, we didn’t have enough base to ski the backcountry, but we were hoping that a recent lake-effect storm had dumped powder in the western Adirondacks. So we called Rick Kovacs at the Wanakena General Store, and he told us the good news: the region had a foot or more of snow, much of it fresh.
Carol Fox and I decided to ski Cat Mountain, a 2,261-foot summit with a spectacular vista of the Five Ponds Wilderness. I had never skied Cat, but I thought it would be a good test for our Madshus Annums, a wide but lightweight ski designed for backcountry adventure. Both Carol and I had bought Annums a few weeks earlier » Continue Reading.
On New Year’s Day we didn’t have enough snow to ski most backcountry trails, but we decided to give the Jackrabbit Trail a shot, starting at Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid and ascending to the pass between Haystack and McKenzie mountains.
I have skied this section of the Jackrabbit often and had an idea of what we’d find: bare patches on the half-mile hill at the start but decent snow above. With a few inches of fresh powder over a thin but solid base, the trail should be skiable, I thought. We would just need to steer clear of the bare spots.
That’s pretty much what we encountered. What I hadn’t counted on though, was that the trail would have been thoroughly trashed by bare-booters – that is, hikers without snowshoes.
There aren’t many Nordic ski routes where you can gauge your progress by mileage markers. The exception, I learned last weekend, is the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.
When the state repaved the highway recently, it installed highway reference markers along the shoulder. These are the small rectangular signs on metal posts that you see along state-maintained roads every tenth or two-tenths of a mile. Usually they’re green, but those on the Whiteface highway are brown. » Continue Reading.
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