American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Poor Position, New York, Adirondack High Peaks, Wright Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

AVALANCHE, POOR POSITION

New York, Adirondack High Peaks, Wright Peak

On February 20, one skier was killed and five others injured when they were caught in an avalanche in the Adirondack High Peaks while skiing in an off-trail area. The avalanche occurred about 1:00 p.m. on the northeast side of Wright Peak. Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers (MRA) reported that five of the skiers were found by 2:00 p.m. Searchers spent the next five hours looking for Toma Jacob Vracarich (27). Using a probe line, they finally found his body around 6:00 p.m. Of the five injured skiers, three were hospitalized.

Very high snow levels had created unusual avalanche conditions in the northeast. DEC Ranger Wesley Hurd: “In New York State we never have avalanches. I’ve been doing this for 26 years and this is the first one I’ve ever had anything to do with that had any people involved.” In Vermont, state officials told Stowe Mountain Resort and Smuggler’s Notch Ski Area to warn backcountry skiers and snowboarders of significant risk of avalanche in Smuggler’s Notch. (Source: Neil Van Dyke, Stowe Hazardous Terrain Evacuation)

(Editor’s Note: This incident is included because backcountry skiing and snowboarding are becoming more popular in the Northeast. It is important to understand the conditions that can result in avalanches.)

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