Avalanche Warning in Vermont Uncommon, But Tells the Snow Story At Smugglers’ Notch Resort

SMUGGLERS’ NOTCH, Vt., Feb. 17 — In the past week two and a half feet of new snow descended on to the trails at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, and into the adjacent Smugglers’ Notch Pass (Route 108) in northern Vermont. This amount of snow, adding to the winter’s accumulation, triggered an avalanche warning to backcountry skiers, snowboarders and ice climbers.

The recent heavy wet snow fell on a base of lighter, fluffy snow, creating an avalanche danger in Smugglers’ Notch Pass where there are steep ravines and gullies. The Pass is a four mile (approximate) stretch of Vermont State Highway 108 that winds between Sterling Mountain and Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. This section of the pass is laced with switchbacks, a steep incline, and boulders. It is closed to traffic in the winter, but frequented by adventurers.

An instructor with the Army National Guard’s Mountain Warfare School got caught in a thick slice of rushing snow on Tuesday, February 15th while practicing maneuvers in the Pass, but he was not hurt.

Thursday morning when the avalanche warning hit the front page of the local newspaper, the resort received several phone calls. “We are not in danger of avalanches at the resort,” assured Steve Clokey, Smugglers’ Notch Resort’s marketing director. “All our 67 trails are open and they are safe from snowslides. Our Off Trail Policy allowing skiers and riders into the woods within our boundaries is still in effect.”

Last winter the total accumulation of snow at Smugglers’ Notch Resort was 214 inches. During the current winter 190 inches of snow have already fallen, after a slow and warm start to the season in December and early January.

The avalanche warning is to be taken seriously, but also underscores the collection of snow stockpiled just in time for a full resort of ski and snowboard child enthusiasts and their families celebrating President’s Week holiday from all over the East Coast.

Up to a foot or more of new snow is expected this weekend.

For more information call 1-802-644-1156 or visit Smugglers’ website at www.smuggs.com.