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Adirondack Explorer

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

Customer feedback on the trail

This past weekend, I encountered Tom O’Sullivan of Albany and his friend, Dave Richman of New Hampshire, near Fifty-Meter Bridge on the Van Hoevenberg Trail to Mount Marcy. I had stopped to put climbing skins on my skis and engaged them in friendly conversation. We ended up introducing ourselves, and when Tom heard my name, he asked if I were the editor of the Explorer. I allowed that I was. “You guys do a great job,” he said. “I love that publication.” He’s not lying: Tom has been a subscriber for ten years. One of the most gratifying things about >>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

OSI protects 1,400 acres

Our March/April issue, which should be mailed in a few weeks, includes a profile of Joe Martens, the president of the Open Space Institute. In the Adirondacks, Joe is best known as the guy who engineered the institute’s purchase of the ten-thousand-acre Tahawus Tract in 2003, but he also has been involved smaller projects in the Park. Recently, a landowner donated to OSI a conservation easement on 1,400 acres near Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain.  As a result, the land is protected forever from development. The owner, Eric Johanson, starting acquiring the land decades ago when he was just nineteen years old. “I >>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

DEC plans to remove two fire towers

In a controversial decision, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is recommending the removal of old fire towers on St. Regis Mountain and Hurricane Mountain. Environmental groups have argued that the towers should be removed because they are in areas that are managed, by and large, as Wilderness. The guidelines for managing Wilderness Areas require the removal of most man-made structures. Also, environmentalists point out that both summits offer wide-open views without the towers. Nevertheless, many local residents (and no doubt many visitors as well) want the towers to remain. They see the structures as reminders of the region’s history. >>More


February, 2010

DEC debunks cougar rumor

Did you hear they found a dead mountain lion in Black Brook? It was hit by a car. The state Department of Environmental Conservation picked up the carcass and hauled it away the other day. There’s even a photograph to prove it. Naturally, DEC put out a news release denying the whole thing, but what would you expect? Everybody knows DEC is secretly releasing mountain lions in the Adirondacks and then lying about it. You can read all about this mountain lion on the Internet. Some guy took a picture of it on his cell phone. But there is a >>More


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