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.
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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.