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Skiers triggered two avalanches last month

LAKE PLACID — The state Department of Environmental Conservation said skiers triggered two avalanches last month amid continuing avalanche conditions in the High Peaks.

The slides did not trap anyone, the DEC said.

In its weekly Outdoor Recreation Bulletin, the DEC said that during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, one avalanche was triggered on Mount Colden, and the other was on Whiteface Mountain a few days later.

The DEC warned of avalanche danger in advance of a large snowstorm prior to the holiday weekend last month, as the storm dumped well over a foot of snow across the Adirondacks.

Although avalanches are not as common in the Adirondacks as out west, they do occur. A skier was killed and five others injured in an avalanche on a Wright Peak’s slide in 2000.

A skier was also trapped waist deep in an avalanche last February on Wright Peak.

“Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws,” the DEC said in a press release prior to the MLK weekend storm. “Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope and weather conditions combine to create proper conditions. Adirondack backcountry recreational users should know that avalanche danger does exist in New York.”

The DEC also said snow depths in the High Peaks can be up to 4 to 5 feet deep near the tops of mountains, and is 45 inches deep at the Lake Colden Interior Outpost.

For more information on avalanche risks and preparedness, go to www.dec.ny.gov/public/950.html.

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