Thinking about doing some skiing or snowboarding this weekend? Well, if you're going into the Adirondack backcountry be aware of the dangers of avalanche conditions.

The Department of Environmental Conservation issued a warning last week that the Adirondack High Peaks are at risk for avalanche conditions. Backcountry skiers, snowboards, and even snowshoes need to be aware of the danger.

According to the Times Union, the high peaks have received a lot of snow from storms lately and that additional snow mixed with freezing rain ontop of open and steep conditions in the Adirondack mountains is a recipe ripe for an avalanche. Avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain, Indian Lake, in Hamilton County.

I used to ski in my younger days, but I was always going to ski resorts that made a lot of their own snow or had experts that monitored avalanche conditions and caused controlled avalanches to reduce the risk. So the idea of skiing in the backcountry is pretty foreign to me. However, I've talked to local skiers in New York and they say the avalanche danger is very real here.

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The DEC website has some great information about recognizing, avoiding, and surviving avalanche conditions in the Adirondack high peaks.

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

If you do find yourself in an avalanche here are some tips to survive.

  • Wear a beacon. Only 1 of 3 victims buried without a beacon survives.
  • If you are caught in an avalanche try to move sideways to the slide
  • Try to grab a tree or rock.
  • If you are knocked down, get rid of your poles, skis, and a heavy pack.
  • If you're caught in the avalanche and you're going to have to ride it out. Try to swim with the avalanche to try to stay on top and avoid trees.
  • When the avalanche slows down, reach the surface or make an air pocket.


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