By Mike Lynch
The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued an avalanche advisory Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of a major snowstorm moving in the region.
The storm was forecasted to bring up to a foot of snow in the High Peaks region between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 1 p.m. Thursday.
Eight to 10 inches of snow had fallen by about 9 a.m. Thursday at the High Peaks Information Center, according to the Adirondack Mountain Club. The center is located at an elevation of 2,200 feet and is just outside of Lake Placid. It’s home to trailheads for many popular destinations, including Wright Peak, Avalanche Pass, and Mount Marcy.
“After several spring-like days, the return of winter weather is exciting for skiers, snowboarders, and other winter recreationists,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “But with that change in weather comes some serious risks, including that of avalanches in our High Peaks region. For the safety of backcountry visitors and our Forest Rangers, it’s important that winter sport enthusiasts take these conditions seriously and come prepared with the knowledge and equipment needed to enjoy the snow safely.”
The majority of avalanche terrain is located in the High Peaks, although other places such as Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County are prone to slides.
Last February, two skiers survived an avalanche on Wright Peak.
The DEC warned that snow may be deeper on leeward slopes or places where snow collects, such as gullies.
DEC recommended that people planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory research the route ahead of time and contact a local forest ranger or guide for specific safety and condition information.
“Skiers and snowboarders 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,” stated the DEC advisory. “Backcountry rescues take time. Recreators should be prepared with the skills and equipment required for self-rescue. If unsure about conditions, stick to designated trails within the trees or pursue an alternate plan.”