DEC Advises Outdoor Adventurers of
Avalanche Risk in Adirondack High Peaks Region

February 17, 2021   08:30 a.m.
    Press Release from NYS DEC (February 16, 2021):

    DEC Advises Backcountry Downhill Skiers, Snowboarders, and Other
    Outdoor Adventurers of Avalanche Risk in Adirondack High Peaks

    Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse
    slides or steep, open terrain in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks
    should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions, New York State
    Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil
    Seggos advised today.

    "Recent storms have resulted in a significant amount of new snow and we
    are expecting an increase in the number of recreational enthusiasts visiting
    the High Peaks to snowshoe, cross country ski, or simply enjoy the pristine
    surroundings," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC is cautioning anyone
    headed to the Adirondack High Peaks region and planning to ski,
    snowboard, or traverse backcountry slides and other avalanche-prone
    terrain to be extremely careful and prepare for avalanche conditions."

    Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls
    and during thaws. The High Peaks have received approximately five to six
    feet of snow, with the majority accumulating over the last two weeks. Due to
    high winds, snow depths are deeper on leeward slopes or areas of snow
    deposits, such as gullies. As snow accumulates over time it develops
    distinct layers formed by rain and melt/freeze cycles. When new snow falls
    onto previous snowpack, it adds weight and downward pressure. Lower
    snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of recent snows,
    creating conditions conducive to avalanches.

    Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather
    conditions combine to create the proper conditions. While the majority of
    steep, open terrain is found in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks,
    avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks,
    including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County.

    DEC reminds backcountry winter recreationists to take the following
    precautions when traveling in avalanche-prone terrain:

  • 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; and
  • Always inform someone about where you are going.
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