New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions.
The Adirondack Mountain Club has closed Adirondak Loj and the High Peaks Information Center, both at Heart Lake in the High Peaks, indefinitely over COVID concerns.
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. Lower snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of recent snows, creating conditions conducive to avalanches.
Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. While the majority of steep, open terrain is found in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, avalanche-prone terrain is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County.
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; and
- Always inform someone about where you are going.
Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on the DEC website.
Closures at ADK’s Adirondack Loj / Heart Lake Facility
Adirondak Loj is closed until further notice. The front desk will be open with limited hours for campground and cabin check-ins. For questions, please contact us at 518-523-3441 ext. 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The High Peaks Information Center is closed until further notice. Snowshoe, Microspike, and ski rentals are not available at this time. The parking lots will remain open; the booth will be staffed with limited hours. Public restrooms in the back will remain open and cleaned regularly.
The Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake is currently open and operating at full capacity. Group gatherings are limited to 10 people. All guests are required to wear masks at check-in, in common areas including bathrooms, and whenever within 6 feet of another guest, visitor, or staff member. All guests are required to maintain 6 ft. social distancing from other guests, visitors, and staff members. Upon check-in, only 1 person per party is allowed in the lobby/front desk area at a time. Heart Lake Cabins are open and check-in time is 3 p.m. and check-out time is 10 a.m. to allow for additional cleaning. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner take-out options from the Adirondak Loj are currently unavailable.
The Hungry Hiker is currently closed for the season and will reopen in May.
Johns Brook Lodge is currently open for fall caretaker season at 50% capacity. Bunkrooms are open to single-family units only* for reservations. A single-family unit is defined as one reservation from one party or group. This may be a family or it may be individuals who know each other and are visiting together under one reservation. The bunkrooms are no longer shared with unknown guests. Reservations are by phone only: 518-523-3441. Overnight group size limit for reservations is 10 people. All guests are required to wear masks at check-in, in common areas including kitchen, dining area, bathrooms, and whenever within 6 feet of another guest, visitor, or staff member. All guests are required to maintain 6 ft. social distancing from other guests, visitors, and staff members. Wool blankets and pillows will no longer be provided. Pillows will be available by request if needed. Use of the kitchen will be by reserved times (1/2 hour time slots), masks required. Guests are encouraged to plan simple meals. Limit of 2 people per party in the kitchen. Check-in time is 3 p.m. and check-out time is 10 a.m. to allow for additional cleaning. Hand sanitizer is provided.
Grace Camp and Camp Peggy O’Brien are currently open. All guests are required to wear masks at check-in and whenever within 6 feet of another guest, visitor, or staff member. All guests are required to maintain 6 ft. social distancing from other guests, visitors, and staff members. Check-in time is 3 p.m. and check-out time is 10 a.m. to allow for additional cleaning. Pillows are no longer provided. Tableware is no longer provided (cookware is provided and sanitized between each reservation). Hand sanitizer is provided.
Johns Brook Lean-tos are currently open.
Avalanche anatomy illustration courtesy T3 Adventures.