Please note changes in access and rules for hiking and camping in the Adirondacks and Catskills during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please act responsibly during this stressful period. Please read the DEC info carefully.

Elevated Avalanche Conditions in the Adirondacks

Elevated Avalanche Conditions in the Adirondacks
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Last week, the NYSDEC had issued an Avalanche Risk Warning for the high peaks region after snowstorms have piled up snow in the northeast. The NYSDEC has warned backcountry travelers to prepare carefully by staying away from avalanche-prone areas and carrying appropriate gear if traveling into high-risk terrain. If you have little or no experience in avalanche-prone areas, please get professional instruction.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “We are cautioning anyone planning to head to avalanche-prone terrain in the Adirondack High Peaks to be extremely careful and be prepared for avalanche conditions.”

We have found the Scottish Avalanche Information Service information useful. The Scottish Avalanche Information Service provides three factors to consider and a three-step process in avalanche safety. The service notes that 90% of all avalanche victims trigger the avalanche in which they are injured or killed. 

90% of all avalanche victims trigger the avalanche in which they are injured or killed. 

Three factors before you enter avalanche-prone terrain

The Information Service states that backcountry travelers should be aware of three factors that need to be considered before heading out into avalanche-prone terrain.

  1. Avalanche Hazard, weather and mountain conditions.
  2. You and your parties’ personal skills and experience.
  3. The landscape you intend to visit.

These three factors should guide your readiness to venture out into avalanche-prone terrain.

The three factors should contain three phases of planning and consideration:

  1. Planning (days and weeks before you go)
  2. Your journey (throughout your trip)
  3. Key places (at keys spots and times)

Click the links above for planning tips!

The Eastern United States and the Dacks

Even though the eastern United States sees less avalanche activity than the western states, it is not unheard of in the Adirondacks, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine peaks. People are injured in the Adirondacks in avalanche related accidents. See here, and here. It is extremely rare, but it shows an avalanche’s unpredictability as one struck the Belleayre Ski Center this year in the Catskills.

On the NYSDEC avalanche warning page, it states:

“Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. While much of the 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.”

“Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws. The forecast for this weekend is for mostly sunny and partly sunny skies with temperatures above freezing. While this weather is appealing to outdoor enthusiasts, it also increases the danger of avalanches.”

NYSDEC Avalanche preparedness

The NYSDEC Avalanche preparedness page has information on planning and prevention for the backcountry traveler.

Read the page here.