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Monday, March 1, 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.

The Angel Slides on Wright Peak.

The Angel Slides on Wright Peak.

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 had dug a pit to test the snow before heading up the slope about noon on Saturday. While ascending, they heard “woofing” noises in the fresh snow—a sign of an unstable snow pack—and chose to backtrack. As they turned around, however, the snow gave way and carried them both down the slope.

Visible from Marcy Dam, the Angel Slides are bedrock slabs (one wide, one narrow) that were stripped of vegetation during a 1999 rainstorm. In winter, they are often skied. In 2000, an avalanche on the wide slab swept up four skiers. One of them, twenty-seven-year-old Toma Vracarich, was killed. Saturday’s avalanche also was on the wide slab. Winchell said the entire slab–300 feet wide by 1,200 feet long–avalanched.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for Adirondack Almanack on the 2000 disaster and other avalanches in the Adirondacks.

On Monday, DEC issued a news release warning that recent snowfalls have increased the avalanche danger in the Adirondacks. Click on the link below to read it.

Avalanche news release PDF

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

6 Responses

  1. Dale Atkins says:

    Nice pieces on avalanches and thank your for spreading the word that a White Dragon also lurks in the Adirondacks. I have tracked US avi accidents for years and the first mention (I have come across) of problems in the Adirondacks goes back to 1941. An old-timer back in 1976, Charlie Nolan (caretaker at Lake Colden) told of the 1941 avalanche that tore down the Trap Dike and took out the original Caribou lean-to. He reported no other avalanches until the winter of 1975-76 when an avalanche piled snow and parts of trees onto Avalanche Lake on Jan 28, 1976. Then a couple of months later a bit smaller avalanche did the same thing in early March.

  2. Tom Boothe says:

    I skied up to Avalanche Lake on March 19, 2007, and witnessed the results of an avalanche that came down the Trap Dike and across the lake. I had skied up just one week before, and it wasn’t there. So it must have happened between March 11th and March 19th. It was a pretty awesome sight!

  3. […] skiers triggered an avalanche on Wright Peak on Saturday. Neither of the skiers was injured, but the incident underscores the risk of current […]

  4. Interview with avalanche survivors @ says:

    […] light of Saturday’s avalanche on Wright Peak, I thought it’d be instructive to post an in-depth interview with two survivors of […]

  5. […] life. The skiers involved in this past week’s avalanche are lucky to be alive, and some recent reports about the incident shed some helpful insight about travel on steep, snow covered […]

  6. Angel Slides still unsafe @ says:

    […] skiers were caught in an avalanche on the wider of the two Angel Slides on February 27, but they escaped with minor […]

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