ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse on open terrain in the High Peaks Region should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos advised.
“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.
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, potentially creating avalanches.
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.
- Always inform someone about where you are going.
Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on the DEC website.