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Adirondack Explorer

Monday, April 5, 2010

An avalanche and other mishaps

I just received the Forest Ranger Report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 5, which encompasses most of the Adirondacks. It covers the period of February 6 through March 21. You can read it verbatim below.   Essex County Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area At noon on Saturday February 27, 2010, an avalanche occurred on a slide on the northeast side of Wright Peak. The two skiers that triggered the slide were partially buried in the avalanche but were able to rescue themselves. DEC Forest Rangers were not requested for a rescue but upon learning >>More

Monday, April 5, 2010

Between the seasons

You know we’re in between seasons when you go backcountry skiing one day and canoeing the next. Last Friday, I skied Mount Marcy with Ron Konowitz. It was so warm than I stripped down to my T-shirt on the ascent. On the summit, we met Keith Kogut, a music teacher in Saranac Lake, who was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Despite the warm temps, the Van Hoevenberg Trail had plenty of snow, at least above Marcy Dam. A few rocks were starting to show on the section along Phelps Brook. As noted in an earlier post, the high-water bridge across >>More

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Marcy just got farther way

If you’re thinking of climbing Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj this weekend, you should plan for a longer-than-usual journey, thanks to the loss of a log bridge over Phelps Brook. The bridge that hikers use to cross the brook in high water was washed downstream about a week ago, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Winchell said DEC is advising hikers to take a detour that will add roughly a mile to the round trip to Marcy, making it about sixteen miles. Ordinarily, hikers starting at the Loj take the Van Hoevenberg Trail, >>More

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Death in the Catskills

I’m sure many of you have heard about the hiker who died following a snowstorm in the Catskills last weekend. He and his partner had weathered a night in a snow cave. The next morning, he left to get help but never made it. He was found dead on Blackhead Mountain a short distance from the temporary shelter. The Daily Mail, a local newspaper, published a fairly detailed account of the incident. In a comment appended to an online Daily Freeman story, the daughter of the deceased hiker says the two men were experienced hikers and well equipped. She wrote, in >>More

Monday, March 15, 2010

Avalanche survivor tells story

One of the survivors of last month’s avalanche has written a dramatic account of his ordeal for Adirondack Almanack. Here’s a taste: “I don’t remember any pain when the avalanche struck me,” Jamie McNeill says. “The sensation is best described as almost instant acceleration in a river of wet cement. I was suddenly surrounded by this flowing snow bank. I have no idea how fast it was moving and I don’t remember much aside from the dark, the fear, and the thought that I had to try to stay on top of it somehow.” Click here to read the full >>More

Monday, March 8, 2010

Angel Slides still unsafe

Backcountry skiers who think it’s now safe to ski the Angel Slides on Wright Peak should be aware that an avalanche risk may still exist. Two skiers were caught in an avalanche on the wider of the two Angel Slides on February 27, but they escaped with minor bruises. Last Friday, Jesse Williams of Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides dug a test pit on the narrower slide and concluded that the snow pack was unstable. As a result, Williams decided against taking skiers to the slide as part of last weekend’s Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival. Below is a video of the avalanche >>More

Monday, March 8, 2010

Billy Demong addresses hometown (video)

Hundreds of people lined the main street in the tiny village of Saranac Lake on Friday afternoon to welcome home gold-medal skier Billy Demong and other local athletes who competed in the Winter Games in Vancouver. Saranac Lake and nearby Lake Placid, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, sent a dozen athletes to Vancouver, including two who won medals. Not bad for two villages whose combined population is about 7,600 Many of the athletes had moved to the Lake Placid region to train, but Billy Demong grew up outside Saranac Lake, in the rural community of Vermontville. >>More

Friday, March 5, 2010

Skiing Mount Marcy: Phelps Brook section

Yesterday I skied Mount Marcy with Alan Wechsler, one of the contributors to the Explorer. I had skied Marcy just a few weeks ago, but I never tire of this trip. We had great weather until we emerged above tree line. The summit was a complete whiteout, and the wind was fierce, with wind chills below zero. Descending the summit bowl, we couldn’t see the bumps in the terrain or any landmarks to gauge our position. “It’s like skiing blind,” Alan remarked. It took us a while in this ghostly atmosphere to reconnect with the hiking trail. Once we got >>More

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival

The Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival is back this weekend, and though most of the guided ski trips are booked, there are a number of cool events open to the public. For starters, you can test skis and boots at Otis Mountain, a private hill with a rope tow south of Elizabethtown, and enroll in telemark and skinning lessons, taught by Ron Konowitz, and avalanche clinics, taught by Mike Kazmierczak, a representative of Dynafit and Mammut. It’s all free. The clinics and demonstrations are on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. A schedule can be found on the website of the Mountaineer, >>More

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Interview with avalanche survivors

In light of Saturday’s avalanche on Wright Peak, I thought it’d be instructive to post an in-depth interview with two survivors of the avalanche that occurred in the same spot in February 2000.  Four skiers were swept up in the earlier avalanche, and one died. The interview with Ron Konowitz and his then-wife, Lauren, appeared in the Explorer in 2003. Although usually reluctant to talk about the avalanche, they agreed to the interview in part to correct the record and in part to warn others of the avalanche danger in the Adirondacks. What emerged was the most detailed story of >>More


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