Mar 09, 2012 — John Warren, of the Adirondack Almanack, joins us Friday mornings with information about local outdoor and back-country conditions.
Most of the recent snow the region received has melted away at lower elevations, but skis or snowshoes continue to be necessary in higher elevations. Full crampons are recommended for areas above tree line, while traction devices are sufficient for icy open areas at lower elevations.
Temperatures continue to fluctuate above and below the freezing mark and summit areas can expect wind chill values in the single digits to 10 below zero this weekend. The possibility for avalanches remain and at least one avalanche caused by skiers has occurred on Wright Peak and others have been reported elsewhere. Be aware of proper safety methods for traversing steep slopes that are prone to avalanches.
Currently there are 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground at lower elevations in the central and northwestern Adirondacks, with little to no snow in Warren and Eastern Essex County and into the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks where higher elevations still have considerable snow. There is not as much snow at the trailheads at lower elevations however the snow quickly deepens as you climb to higher elevations. The caretaker is reporting 35 inches of snow at the stake at Lake Colden.
The region's rivers and streams are running at normal levels for this time of year but ice thickness remains less than what is typical.
Lake ice in many areas has begun to recede from shore, especially along southern exposures. Lake Champlain and Lake George (with the exception of the South Bay of Lake Champlain) remain largely open water with some areas covered with dangerously thin ice. Many waters have a mixture of snow, slush and water on top of the ice surface so expect wet conditions when temperatures are above freezing. Use extra caution on ice this weekend as conditions are beginning to change.
Also, DEC has issued a reminder that all ice fishing shanties must be removed by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice in spring and becoming hazards to navigation.
Downhill skiing is beginning to wind down for the season at mountains relying on natural snow. Gore, Whiteface, Titus, and McCauley will be open this weekend on spring conditions, but Oak Mountain, Mount Pisgah, and Hickory Mountain have closed for the season. There is no report from Big Tupper, so call ahead there.
Some cross-country area will be open this weekend on spring conditions, but skiers should call ahead as conditions are now day by day at many areas. Best bets would be Lapland Lake which still has plenty of snow, Cascade Cross-Country Ski Area and Garnet Hill near North Creek.
Back-country ski conditions at lower elevations are will be shifting this weekend. Snow has been soft from warm temperatures and rain but conditions will be likely be icy on Saturday as temperatures drop. The Jack Rabbit trail is skiable, with the exception of the Keene end and along River Road which, along with the Johns Brook approach to the High Peaks and the first mile or so of the road to Lower Ausable Lake will likely not be ski-able this weekend. The Calamity Brook approach to Lake Colden, the Marcy, Wright Peak, and Whales tale trails are all skiable, and lake ice on Avalanche and Lake Colden is crossable as is the ice in the St. Regis Canoe Area.
The ice climbing season is winding down. The High Peaks backcountry is the best bet, including the Trap Dyke and the North Face of Gothics. Ice is retreating elsewhere and has gone out at Poke-O-Moonshine, Mineville Pillar, and Roaring Brook Falls. There are still a few climbs at the north side of Pitchoff, at Cascade Pass, in the Chapel Pond area, and at Multi-Gully.
A fixed rope was placed in the lower reaches of the Trap Dike this winter but is now frozen and covered in snow and ice. Since it’s unknown how many ice axes and crampon spikes may have pierced the rope over the winter is should be considered unsafe. DEC will be removing the rope as soon as it’s possible to do so.
Snowmobile trails are in generally good to fair condition from Southern Franklin County and Cranberry Lake through toward Long Lake, Indian Lake, with fair to poor conditions toward Old Forge, Inlet, and the Speculator area. Eastern Essex, Warren and Washington County are not ridable; unless we get a big late snowstorm the season has ended there. The base should hold up for this weekend in the shady woods, but roadsides and southerly exposed trails will be boney to bare.