Mixed winter weather this week has left us with a range of conditions around the region. In General higher elevation areas received more snow, while lower elevations received less, in some places, rain and sleet. It will be a mixed bag this weekend as well, and summits will be obscured in clouds. Snowshoes and skis will be needed, and expect to encounter blowdown and unbroken trails, especially in lesser used areas.
There is more than three feet of snow at Lake Colden and even more at higher elevations and where high winds have blown deeper drifts, including on leeward slopes. Mid-elevations in the Eastern High Peaks have about 15-20 inches of snow increasing toward the Western slopes and Tug Hill which has about two feet. The eastern perimeter of the Adirondacks, including the reach into Keene Valley, and much of the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Adirondacks have about 8-12 inches, depending on elevation; the Champlain Valley and much of Washington County has 4 to 8 inches. One notable change this week was in Western Warren County, which picked up a foot of new snow - good news for the Gore mountain region.
The recent snowfalls, day to day changes in temperatures, and high winds may have produced weak layers of snow and the potential for avalanches. Be aware the danger of avalanche, carry appropriate avalanche safety gear, and know how to use it.
Ice conditions remain good at higher elevations, but lower elevation waters can be slushy, especially in the afternoon. All ice climbing areas have routes open and very-good mid-season conditions prevail.
The region’s rivers and streams are currently running just above normal for this time of year. Increasing snowmelt may raise water levels throughout the weekend, however. The threat of ice jams is also rising; a partial ice jam on the Hudson River between Thurman and Warrensburg was being watched carefully by authorities Thursday night.
Downhill conditions this weekend continue to be very good with local ski resorts reporting nearly all their terrain open. Gore Mountain caught a break this week and picked up a foot of new snow, but just to the south at Hickory Mountain, which has yet to open this year, most of that fell as very wet snow, sleet, and rain.
All cross-country ski areas are open with a 4 to 6 inch packed base and at least a few inches of fresh snow over the past 24 hours – a best bet would be Garnet Hill which benefitted from a considerable amount of new snow this week – more than a foot.
Backcountry ski conditions are generally good, but not ideal. There are still some obstacles to avoid, and some icy downhills. The trail is rough but skiable between the Adirondack Loj Trailhead and Marcy Dam, though the Marcy Dam Truck Trail remains the better approach. There are still some obstacles to avoid to Avalanche Camp, but beyond conditions are considerably better. Thanks to some volunteer shoveling the Marcy Trail is now skiable its full length. Wright Peak is reported skiable only above the junction with the hiking trail. The Northside Trail to Johns Brook Lodge is reported passable on skis, but not recommended. All other smoother routes remain in good shape, with more snow at Newcomb making that a great opportunity for this weekend. The entire Jackrabbit Trail is skiable; there is a snowmobile track on the McKenzie Pond-Whiteface Inn section due to a recent rescue operation.
Looking at snowmobiling conditions, the best riding this weekend will be in Southern Franklin, Northern Hamilton and Western Warren counties, which have received about a foot of new snow over the past few days. The Indian Lake, Speculator, Piesco areas received about half that amount, but areas in the south central Adirondacks, including Old Forge, Inlet, and Raquette Lake received little by way of new snow. Eastern Warren, Washington, and Eastern Essex counties did not receive enough snow to reopen snowmobile trails.
Those are the local outdoor conditions in the Adirondacks for this weekend, for North Country Public Radio, this is John Warren from the Adirondack Explorer’s Adirondack Almanack, online at www.AdirondackAlmanack.com.