Another thaw this week that brought temperatures into the 50s and widespread rain has reduced snow cover considerably. Although cold temperatures have now returned, what snow we get this weekend, and some is expected, probably won’t be enough to return our snowpack. Today’s summit forecast is calling for wind chill values 15-25 below zero. Be sure to check current forecasts this weekend, before heading into the backcountry.
Rivers and streams are currently running high but have begun to fall as cold temperatures end the snowmelt. Backcountry users should continue to expect above normal levels through the weekend, however. Rocks and shorelines are icy and some low water crossings will be inaccessible.
In general trail conditions are icy and frozen, especially on summits and other open areas, so carry crampons. Snowshoes will still be needed at higher elevations, and expect blowdown as a result of Thursday’s high winds.
Snow amounts vary with elevation. The lower elevations are bare to 4 inches. Middle elevations have about 4-8 inches of crusty snow and most higher elevation areas have 8 to 12 inches, with up to 2 feet in some areas at the highest elevations.
Looking at the downhill ski conditions, Whiteface is reporting about 70 percent of their terrain open, with Gore about 60 percent. Smaller mountains have between 40 and 50 percent of their terrain open and snow making will continue through the weekend. McCauley Mountain closed this week due to flooding and high winds, but is expected to be open this weekend. Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg has yet to open for the season.
Most cross-country facilities have closed, with the exceptions of Garnet Hill near North Creek and Lapland Lake, which remain open with a few inches of base.
Backcountry ski conditions have deteriorated and the DEC is not recommending backcountry ski travel due to lack of snow and obstacles at lower elevations, and icy conditions and frozen post holes in ski travel corridors at higher elevations. There should still be enough snow on the Marcy Trail above the 50 meter bridge, but even the smoother early season routes, with the possible exception of Newcomb Lake Road, are going to have very thin areas and some bare patches. Reports from the Jackrabbit Trail have not yet come in, but some areas are likely to be bare there as well.
There are a few snowmobile trails still open, mostly in Northern Hamilton County, but in general snowmobiling has come to halt. Users should call ahead to local clubs for specific trails that remain passable. Trails in Washington County and Southern Warren County remain closed and the Northern Warren County club is asking users to stay off its trails.
It’s not all bad, all ice climbing areas continue to have some routes open and ice will fatten through the weekend making for good conditions everywhere.
The Adirondack Explorer’s Adirondack Almanack is online at www.AdirondackAlmanack.com.