By Mike Lynch
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is urging backcountry users to be aware of avalanche conditions.
“We encourage anyone planning to ski, board, or traverse backcountry slides and other avalanche-prone terrain in the Adirondack High Peaks to exercise caution and be prepared for avalanche conditions,” DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release.
The advisory came Thursday as a snowstorm moved into the Adirondack region.
Three to four feet of snow already exists in the higher elevations.
“Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws,” DEC stated.
The majority of avalanche terrain occurs in the High Peaks region, but also includes Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County and other steep open areas.
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DEC encouraged users to research their routes ahead of time and contact a forest ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or to contact a guide.
The agency said users “should assess their own experience level before going into the backcountry and should be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course.”
DEC reminds backcountry winter recreationists to take the following precautions:
- Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on trails and away from steep slopes on summits.
- Know the terrain, weather and snow conditions.
- Dig multiple snow pits to conduct stability tests. Do not rely on other people’s data.
- Practice safe route finding and safe travel techniques.
- Never ski, board, or climb with someone above or below you – only one person on the slope at a time.
- Ski and ride near trees, not in the center of slides or other open areas.
- Always carry a shovel, probes and transceiver with fresh batteries.
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques
- Never travel alone.
- Always inform someone about where you are going and when you expect to return home.
Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on the DEC website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/950.html.
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