Widespread rain and warm temperatures that reached into the 40s - and 50s in some locations – reduced snowpack and raised the levels of rivers and streams. Now with freezing daytime temperatures having returned, snow and ice will remain throughout the region, at least for now. Morning wind chills below zero are expected on summits this weekend, and elsewhere, daytime temperatures will barely rise above freezing. Trails, especially exposed areas, will be icy this weekend, avoid injuries by wearing crampons or other traction devices and carry an ice axe on slopes.
Everywhere the levels of rivers and streams have risen, snow has been compacted, and at lower elevations southerly exposed areas are increasingly free of snow, but snowshoes and skis are still required in the High Peaks, and the possibility of weak snow layers remains, and so also the potential for avalanches. A few have already occurred in recent weeks. If you are planning on traveling in avalanche terrain, be aware of the dangers, carry appropriate safety gear, and know how to use it.
The Adirondacks lost a good deal of snow cover this week, especially at lower elevations. There is about 30 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Outpost, but mid-elevations in the Central Adirondacks have about 5-10 inches of snow and some bare areas on southerly facing slopes and open areas. Lower elevations have about 5 inches or less, mostly frozen, and the southern Adirondacks is largely snowless.
Ice conditions have deteriorated, especially along shorelines. Most lakes and ponds have a thin layer of ice covering a layer of water and slush. Use extreme caution on ice on water.
The region’s rivers and streams are currently running well above normal levels for this time of year so some low water crossings may not be accessible.
Downhill conditions are trending toward icy this weekend and local ski resorts have lost terrain. Gore Mountain is a best bet with half a foot of new snow over the past few days and about 85% of their terrain open; Whiteface is reporting two-thirds of their terrain is open, about the same as the region’s smaller mountains. Mt. Pisgah closed this week, but will reopen this weekend. Given the current long-range forecast Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg will likely remain closed this year due to lack of snow.
The lower trail at Dewey Mountain is reported open but crusty, all other cross-country ski areas remain open, most with a 4 to 6 inch base.
Backcountry ski conditions have deteriorated. The trail between Adirondack Loj and Marcy Dam is no longer skiable, elsewhere, high waters, ice, trail obstacles, and bare patches mean backcountry skiing in the High Peaks can no longer be generally recommended. Smoother routes remain skiable however, including Connery Pond, and Hays Brook, Fish and Moose ponds, and in Newcomb where there is still a good base with no bare spots at Santanoni for this weekend’s final open house of the season.
The River Road and golf course sections of the Jackrabbit Trail are no longer skiable; however, the section from Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid to McKenzie Pond Road near Saranac Lake remains skiable, with the exception of a thin area just in from McKenzie Pond Road. Some of the downhills are icy.
Aside from some isolated wooded trails west of Route 30, snowmobiling may have largely come to a season ending halt. Trails in Hamilton and Franklin county remain open but are in poor condition with open areas, including roads, bare. Trails have closed or are unridable in Warren, Washington, and Eastern Essex counties (including the Indian Lake – Newcomb trail) due to lack of snow.
Some protected ice climbing areas remain, but most have lost ice, though they should be rebuilding now. Chapel Pond is no longer considered safe to cross, Roaring Brook is out, as are the climbs at Pok-O-Moonshine. A best bet this weekend would be the back side of Pitch-Off.
Finally this week, in the Western High Peaks, the Corey’s Road Gate is closed for the spring mud season. It will reopen when the road has dried out.
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.