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Adirondack Explorer

March, 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

March, 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

March, 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

March, 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

March, 2010

Skiers caught in avalanche

Two backcountry skiers were partially buried in an avalanche over the weekend on the Angel Slides on Wright Peak—the location of a fatal avalanche in February 2000. David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said one man was pinned against a stump and buried up to his chest. The second was carried more than six hundred feet and buried up to his chest. Both men were able to dig themselves out and leave the area. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise identified the skiers as Ian Measeck of Glens Falls and Jamie McNeill of Vergennes, Vt. The skiers >>More

February, 2010

Master skier on the Marcy trail

Last weekend I encountered Mark Meschinelli and Dave Hough, two members of the notorious Ski to Die Club, on the trail to Mount Marcy. Back in the seventies and eighties, Mark, Dave, and their crew set a standard in boldness by tackling difficult terrain–slides, frozen brooks, glades, you name it–in the gear of the day, namely lightweight leather boots and skinny skis. These guys still got it. After summiting, I skied down with them and took a short video of Mark making parallel turns on the ski trail below Indian Falls. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear he’s >>More

February, 2010

Telemark turns on Whiteface Landing trail

On Sunday, I skied to Whiteface Landing for the first time in a few years and was pleasantly surprised by the state of the trail. I’m not talking about the snow conditions, although they were superb. I’m referring to improvements made in recent years by Tony Goodwin and his volunteers at the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The council removed boulders, built bridges over streamlets, and, perhaps most important, fixed the drainage problems that sometimes left the bottom of the trail’s biggest hill bare and/or icy. It so happens that we encountered Tony on the trail on Sunday afternoon. On the >>More

February, 2010

Avalanche Pass ski video

The trip to Avalanche Lake from Adirondak Loj is one of the most popular ski tours in the Adirondacks, and justifiably so. You’re treated to a variety of spectacular scenery along the way, culminating in the lake itself, a frozen sliver of white immured between the cliffs of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain. On the return, you enjoy a half-mile descent from the pass on one of the few trails in the High Peaks designed for skiing. A few weeks ago, I posted a video on Adirondack Almanack of my descent from Avalanche Pass. But I actually took several short >>More

February, 2010

Adirondack ski video: Descent from McKenzie Pass

The Jackrabbit Ski Trail offers lots of great skiing over its twenty-four miles, but the best part is the six-mile stretch from Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid to McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake.  The highlight is a mile-and-a-half downhill run from McKenzie Pass to McKenzie Pond. On Sunday, I did a round trip to the top of the pass from McKenzie Pond Road. It took me nearly forty-five minutes to climb the hill (after skiing two miles to its base) and just five minutes to descend. That might seem like a lousy pain-to-pleasure ratio, but the schuss makes >>More

January, 2010

Adirondack backcountry ski video: take 2

This YouTube link takes you to my second attempt at making a short backcountry ski video. For this one, I strapped my camera–an Olympus 1030SW–to my chest and skied down a small peak outside Saranac Lake. The clip is only a few minutes long. Unfortunately, when I converted it to QuickTime for the Web it lost a lot of resolution. That’s why the titles at the start are blurry. I’m still learning. I hope to post more in the future.