Alert follows winter incidents in the High Peaks
By Mike Lynch
The state Department of Conservation warned backcountry users, especially those in the High Peaks, about the risk of avalanches due to recent weather patterns.
“Avalanche danger increases during thaws when warmer weather and rain melt existing snowpack and snow becomes increasingly unstable as it undergoes freeze/thaw cycles,” according to the DEC statement.
Temperatures have fluctuated greatly this month, going above and below freezing. They fell below zero early in March and rose to above 60 late last week in the Lake Placid region. In addition, storms have brought rain and high winds, which can cause deep pockets of snow to accumulate.
The warning comes after forest rangers recovered a climber’s body from the Trap Dike on Mount Colden on March 18. The man was found under four feet of snow, and evidence suggests that he was caught in an avalanche, according to the DEC.
The department did caution the snow could have come from a snow drift and conclusive determination has not been made.
That would have been the second highly publicized avalanche this winter.
In February, two skiers were buried while on a slide on Wright Peak. Both skiers escaped without major injuries, after one of them self-rescued, located his companion and dug him out. Both skiers had proper safety gear including shovels, beacons, and transceivers. The pair had also practiced rescue techniques before the trip.
The majority of steep open terrain is in the High Peaks, but it can be found throughout the Adirondacks.
More information is available on the DEC’s website.