The previous report (12/26, updated 12/27 and 28) provides a good overview of what we had to ski on before the thaw set in today. Today's highs were around 50 - even a bit higher than predicted. There's plenty of base, so the skiing is not going to immediately disappear, but conditions will slowly deteriorate with light rain showers forecast for Friday through Sunday. Then a bit cooler Monday and Tuesday as both days will start below freezing before warming to the upper 30s. Then Wednesday will again hit 50, before cooling to the upper 30s on next Thursday. Groomed centers will be able to continue grooming and most terrain should remain open. Paul Smith's VIC has the most cover, and should come out of this thaw with the most skiing remaining.
Otherwise, good to see all the comments as well as encountering many skiers on the trails the past few days. All adhered to the Adirondack skier's adage, "Ski it while you can."
THIS REPORT WILL NOT TRY TO DETAIL EVERY BIT OF SKIING AS CONDITIONS SLOWLY DETERIORATE OVER THE COMING HOLIDAY WEEKEND. USE THE CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE GROOMED CENTERS AND LOOK FOR A SUMMARY OF WHERE CONDITIONS ARE COME 1/2/2023.
Yes, there is some skiing out there
INTRODUCTION: (Updated on 12/28/22)
This is still a somewhat incomplete report but despite the rain there is a base and groomable snow at the x-c centers. The best skiing so far is at the Paul Smith's VIC, but the other groomed x-c centers are also open with a decent amount of terrain. This update includes the new Scotts Cobble Nordic Center at Craig Wood Golf Course. This area offers 10 km of free groomed trails along with rentals, lessons, and a restaurant. We have also included the contact information for these groomed centers, although we cannot guarantee how often or how completely they are updated.
As for the weather, we will see a gradual warming trend with daytime temperatures inching up from upper 20s today, Wednesday, to mid-40s by Friday. There could be 1" of new snow todayy, but the New Year's weekend forecast currently calls for more rain, and unfortunately not much improvement as we move into the New Year.
Good cover, on all sections. Steeper sections not recommended given that there is a frozen trench that makes any control difficult. There may also be some blowdown that has not yet been dealt with. Again, any reports of blowdown are appreciated as that will help identify problem spots.
The good news going forward is that a collective effort by BETA and several adjoining landowners has solved the landowner problem on the connection between Craig Wood Golf Course and ADK's Cascade Welcome Center.
ADK CASCADE WELCOME CENTER (PREVIOUSLY: CASCADE CROSS-COUNTRY SKI CENTER)
Km Open and Groomed: 15 Track Set: 10
New snow: 1" Base Depth: 6-8" Off Track 10-12"
New Snow last 72 hours: 1"
Surface Conditions: Groomed granular and powder
Remarks: Remember, Cascade is now owned by the Adirondack Mt. Club. Ski shop open as usual, and ADK members ski free.
SCOTTS COBBLE NORDIC CENTER - NEW
(10 km of free groomed trails on Craig Wood Golf Course - rentals, lessons operated by High Peaks Cyclery
. https://www.lakeplacid.com/do/activities/high-peaks-mountain-guides-nordic-alpine-touring-tele-ntn-split-board 518-523-3764
KM Open and Groomed: 10 Track Set: 0
MOUNT VAN HOEVENBERG:
Km Open and Groomed: 24 Track Set: 24
New snow: 1" Base Depth: 6-8" Off track: 10-12"
New snow past 72 hours: 2"
Surface Conditions: Groomed granular and powder
Remarks: Open on 7 km of the flattest terrain, two other loops (Inner Loopen and East Mt.) plus 2 km of the "world cup" trails. Additional terrain should be open as the week progresses, but the 12/28 report does not show much more terrain open, and still none of the trails on the Biathlon side of the road.
PAUL SMITH'S VISITOR INTERPRETIVE CENTER:
Km Open: Approximately 30 Track set: ?
New Snow: 1" Base Depth: 8-10" Off track: 12-15"
New snow past 72 hours: 1"
Surface Conditions: Groomed granular and powder
Remarks: Some trails still listed in the yellow "caution" category, but the entire system is open and skiable.
Km Open: Track set:
New Snow: Base Depth: Off track:
New snow past 72 hours:
Remarks: As of 12/28, Dewey reports lower trails groom ed and track-set. Upper trails packed with a few thin spots..
TUPPER LAKE X-C SKI TRAILS
Km Open: Approximately 7 Track set: 7km
New Snow: 2" Base Depth: ? Off track: ?
New snow past 72 hours: 2"
Surface Conditions: groomed granular and powder
Remarks: Facebook page reports good conditions
Snow depth at Lake Colden: 20"
3-4' above 4,000 feet
Skis or snowshoes are now required by regulation in the High Peaks, and advisable. Pretty much only the flatter terrain where most hill can be "run straight" are really skiable. The breakable crust mostly supports a person on skis, but weighting a ski for a turn will break the crust, There may be those who can handle such conditions, but most are advised to stick to the flats.
WRIGHT PEAK SKI TRAIL: Enough cover that it had been skiable
MARCY TRAIL: Marginally skiable up to Indian Falls. Then good "early season" conditions above there. Snowshoe traffic and some postholing are a problem for skiers, but that is often the case until later in the season.
WHITEFACE HIGHWAY: Cover all the way from the Toll House to the Castle. Likely not too fast for a straight descent.
MARCY DAM TRUCK TRAIL: Skiable, but the few steep hills may be problematic due to the frozen trench from before the storm..
HIKING TRAIL FROM ADK LOJ: Not really skiable, although completely covered
AVALANCHE PASS: Not really skiable due to the difficulty of control on the steeper terrain.
CONNERY POND TO WHITEFACE LANDING: Skiable except for the hills on the new start. No report on whether the lake ice is crossable, avoiding these initial hills.
HAYS BROOK TRUCK TRAIL: Very good conditions reported. We appreciate Trevor's report that the parking lot is plowed, allowing access to the good conditions. We'll see what we can do about the blowdown.
FISH POND TRUCK TRAIL: Probably skiable up to the first big climb, but, no reports.
RAQUETTE FALLS: Not skiable
GULF BROOK ROAD TO BOREAS PONDS: Unfortunately no plowing so far. This is too bad because there is about 2' of base with 3-4" of nice powder on a mostly solid crust. Tracked to the top of the climb about two miles from the road. Should be easy to continue to the ponds.
NEWCOMB LAKE ROAD TO CAMP SANTANONI: Definitely skiable with 2-3" of new snow on the frozen base.
AUSABLE LAKE ROAD: Skiable, but the one steep hill is a challenge.
The iceman cometh
After a day of wild weather, we're just starting to assess what's left and what, if anything, would still be enjoyable on skis. The good news is that, despite some periods of heavy rain and temperatures in the 40s, we still have about half of the snow depth we had before the deluge. This means 8-12" of base remains. The only other good news is that we were spared the extreme winds that hit elsewhere, so downed trees will be less of an issue than we feared.
Now for the bad news. It is a breakable crust without skis or snowshoes. With skis or snowshoes, one does not break through - at least not most of the time. Travel on the flat would be fine on the crust, but weighting a ski to make a turn would, in most places we've checked so far, result in breaking through. Trails that have been broken out have a bit of new snow drifted in, so again the flat or nearly flat terrain is skiable. Once one develops any speed, the icy rut of the broken trail makes control pretty much impossible.
The groomed centers should be able to work with these conditions to produce some acceptable surfaces for the Christmas-New Years week. It will, however, be slow going. So far, both Mt. Van Hoevenberg and the ADK Welcome Center a Cascade are saying they are closed today. The Paul Smith's VIC has a few trails open, but so far indicates their grooming equipment hasn't been able to do much to help. We should be able to provide some more complete and favorable reports by Monday, 12/26.
As for the backcountry, good traction will permit some climbing of the peaks. Be aware, however, that with temperatures in the single digits and high winds expected up high, it will potentially be very dangerous to venture above tree line. Any backcountry skiing is limited to only the flattest terrain. No report as of 11 AM of how much new snow fell in Newcomb and whether at least the Newcomb Lake Road would be skiable to Camp Santanoni.
Looking ahead, it will be quite cold through Tuesday, but warm to near 40 by Friday. No significant new snow is forecast at this time.
The absolute ideal conditions of today will continue through tomorrow, Thursday. So, GET OUT AND SKI WHILE YOU CAN. As of Friday, the prediction is for temperatures near 50, high winds, and rain. Then temperatures will fall precipitously. Exactly what snow will be left and what the surfaces will be like is anyone's guess. Therefore, no specific condition reports until after the extreme weather.
My guess is that we will retain a good bit of our base with a non-breakable crust outside of areas already broken out. So, a few showers of new snow may be all we need to be back to good skiing. Absent any new snow, it will be very icy outside of the groomed ski centers that have the equipment to turn poor conditions into good ones.
No reports yet on the Marcy or Wright ski trails, but they should have been skiable since the last storm. Again, no way to predict their condition after this next weather event.
The other unknown as we emerge from this extreme weather will be how many trees are down across the trails. We will do our best to get the Jackrabbit Trail back in skiable condition, but it won't happen instantly. Reports of fresh blowdown are encouraged as an aid to setting priorities for clearing.
And the snow continued to fall....
The snow let up for a bit yesterday afternoon, but picked up again overnight. So, all areas have now received 16-20" of new powder. The snow is definitely on the damp side as, even overnight, temperatures never fell below freezing. Temperatures will fall below freezing tonight, which will probably mean some crust on the surface by tomorrow morning.
With these conditions, trail-breaking will be difficult, and the heavy, wet snow has likely brought down at least some branches if not whole trees. The best skiing will definitely be at the groomed centers where reports indicate grooming is ongoing.
Today's report from the Paul Smith's VIC is 20" of new snow with the wider trails now groomed., making a total of about 20km groomed. No mention of set track - at least not yet.
Mt. Van Hoevenberg's report is from Friday. At that time there were 15km of trail open with about 10km of set track on the flatter terrain. Much more should be open by tomorrow.
The Jackrabbit Trail has sufficient cover to be skiable from end to end. Trail breaking will be tough, and there may be a few new downed trees. Reports of both broken-out sections and downed trees welcome. Saturday PM update: Entire Old Mountain Road section is now broken out. Small stream crossings on the old beaver pond just down the Keene side are not frozen. Initial trailbreaking effort led to a sketchy bridge. New route to the right (coming uphill) should e better. No downed trees. Hope that is true for other sections.
In the backcountry, Lake Colden appears to have shared in the 18-20" of new snow. Skis or snowshoes are therefore now required in the High Peaks Wilderness, and needed elsewhere. All this heavy snow is sitting on somewhat thin ice, so no lake can be assumed to be crossable just yet.
More information soon as we get out and see what's actually there.
Winter is here 12/16/22
The forecast has come true! 10 - 12 - 16" on the ground all over the Adirondacks with the snow still falling as of 5 PM. The predictions now say the snowfall could continue for most of the night before tapering off on Saturday. That's the good news. The bad news is that it has everywhere, except perhaps at the highest elevations, fallen at temperatures at or slightly above freezing. This means classic "Sierra Cement" = difficult trail breaking and likely little joy in any downhill run. Back to the good news, this could be the lasting base that covers up most of the rocks and roots on the more rugged trails. But back to the bad news, this very heavy blanket of snow on relatively thin ice will likely make for severe slush conditions on any lake ice. (The weight of the snow pushes the ice down, and any crack then allows water to come up under the snow. The overlying snow insulates that water so that it doesn't immediately freeze, and the result is icy, slushy build-up on the skis. We'll see if maybe a later thaw-freeze cycle will build up a hard layer that separates skis from the slush underneath.
For now, it will be mostly reports of trails that have be broken out. So, go out and break some trail and report it here so your name can be known for your true community service.
Winter makes a tentative return
FORECAST UPDATE 12/14
The forecast for Friday has improved to say 100% chance of snow, and no mention of the "r" word. No estimate of total accumulation so far, but if we pick up even a fraction of what the Midwest is seeing, we should have good skiing on many trails for the coming weekend and beyond.
Very light snow fell for much of the day on Sunday. Most areas only picked up an inch or so, but there is about 3" in Newcomb, 4" in Paul Smiths, and about 2" on the Whiteface Highway at the Toll House. The Highway is just barely skiable from the Toll House, and the Newcomb forest ranger reports that the road to Newcomb Lake could be skied. Paul Smith's VIC has yet to declare any of their trails open. Take your chances on the nearby Hays Brook Truck Trail.
The next few days will remain cold with a chance of a bit more snow. What we are watching is a developing system that will affect the area on Friday and Saturday. So far, the forecast is for temperatures in the mid-30s and "rain or snow" coming down. We are certainly hoping for snow. Any snow will likely be fairly wet and dense, but that is what we need right now. Meantime, we will have three days of consistent cold to put frost in the ground, freeze up many of the small water sources, and maybe form enough ice on the smaller lakes so that the ice on those lakes can better support the snow without cracking and thereby allowing slush to form under the snow.
We've had over 24 hours of intermittent rain with temperatures in the 40s. A cooling trend will start tomorrow with temperatures over the weekend and into next week topping out in the mid-30s and nighttime temperatures in the mid-20s. Unfortunately, no significant snow in the forecast, although a look up on the peaks indicates some snow above 3,600 feet, so maybe the Whiteface Highway will offer some chances to do a bit of sliding this weekend, but only likely after more than a mile of walking.
Given all the rain and the subsequent drop in temperatures, mountain trails will be quite icy - probably right from the trailhead. Good traction, (Microspikes or better) will definitely be required for any hikes up a mountain this weekend. And the exposed summits will have some snow, ice, and general winter conditions. Be prepared.
As of Saturday, 12/3, the temperatures are in the low 40s with rain. Tomorrow will be clear and cold, but the rest of the week will see high temperatures above freezing. So, little chance that any snow falling in any snow showers won't stick around. As of Thursday, there was still a thin layer of icy crust at the toll house on the Whiteface Highway, but that has likely receded quit a bit. The trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg with man-made snow remain the only skiing available.
So, get out the spikes and take a hike, but be prepared for full winter conditions on any of the 4,000-foot peaks. On the positive side, at least there won't be any snow to make it more difficult to clear any blowdown that came down with the very high winds on this past Wednesday and Thursday.
Trail Conditions 101
Trail condition reports are posted frequently during the ski season. The Adirondack backcountry can be a hard place to predict with weather and trail conditions that often change rapidly. We can't offer the same detailed descriptions of trail conditions as groomed nordic centers.