The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued an avalanche advisory Friday for the High Peaks and other high elevation Adirondack mountains.
The advisory is aimed at backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides and other steep open terrain.
Snow depths on high elevation slopes in the High Peaks range from three to five feet, with more snow expected Friday night, according to the DEC.
“The new snow will fall on the current snow pack, which already has distinct layers formed by rain and melt/freeze cycles. Lower snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of recent snows, creating conditions conducive to avalanches,” states the DEC press release.
Much of the steep open terrain is found in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, but avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County.
The majority of avalanches in the U.S. occur in the western mountains. However, avalanches do occur in the northeast. In February 2018, a skier on Wright Peak was trapped waist-deep in snow. He was escaped uninjured with the assistance of his companions. This is the same peak where one person was killed and five people were injured in an avalanche while skiing in February 2000.
DEC’s press release reminded backcountry winter recreationists to take the following precautions when traveling in avalanche-prone terrain:
- Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on trails and avoid 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 a transceiver with fresh batteries;
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques;
- Never travel alone; and
- Notify someone about where you are going.
Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on the DEC web site.