GNFAC Avalanche Advisory for Tue Oct 3, 2017

Not Current Advisory

Update: October 10th, 2017


With unbelievably heavy hearts, we are sad to report there was an avalanche fatality on Saturday, October 7th. The incident occurred on Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range, approximately 20 miles south of Big Sky. Two skiers were caught, one was fully buried and killed.

On Saturday, two skiers hiked 6 miles from the Upper Taylor Fork trailhead to the north couloir of Imp Peak. Near the bottom of the couloir around 10,000’, they triggered an avalanche while ascending on skis with skins. The avalanche was 1-2’ deep at the crown, approximately 150’ wide, and 300’ long. The slope where the avalanche released was 38-45° steep with a north-northeast aspect (photo, photo).

This area received one foot of snow since October 1st, which was on top of 3-4 feet of dense snow that fell since September 15th. The avalanche was a hard slab of wind-drifted snow that collapsed on a layer of soft old snow underneath, and slid on the old snow from late September (photo).

Both skiers were caught, skier 1 was partially buried and skier 2 was fully buried. Skier 1 searched for skier 2, was unable to locate her, and then hiked himself out from the area. On Monday, Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered the body of skier 2. They located her with avalanche probes, buried 3’ deep. Alex and Doug went in for the recovery and accident investigation, and will have a full accident report available later this week. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the skiers involved.

Good Morning. This is Doug Chabot with pre-season avalanche, weather, and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center issued on Tuesday, October 3. This bulletin is sponsored by The Friends of the Avalanche Center and sponsors of Powder Blast on October 27, 2017.

Mountain Weather: 

Last night the Bridger Range picked up 6” of new snow. Other ranges got 1-2”, with the exception being West Yellowstone, which got missed. This morning mountain temperatures are in the teens and ridgetop winds are out of the west at 15-20 mph. Snowfall is tapering off and the next shot of moisture is Wednesday night which will be followed by sunny skies and seasonal temperatures.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion: 

Since Saturday night 6-10” fell in the northern mountains and 3-6” fell in the south. Ridgetop winds are westerly at 15-20 mph in the Bridger Range and are strong enough to drift snow and create wind slabs. Areas with the deepest snow, least amount of rocks, and most inviting skiing will be wind-loaded areas: gullies and higher elevation slopes. This presents a quandary because wind-loaded slopes are where someone could trigger an avalanche.

Avalanches are more easily triggering during a storm and soon after the snowfall and or wind-loading stops…today and tomorrow. Even small avalanches injure and kill. The sacred rules of backcountry travel are not loosened in October:

  • Carry rescue gear (beacon shovel and probe) along with other personal safety you normally carry mid-winter (i.e. helmet or airbag).
  • Only expose one person at a time in avalanche terrain, both heading up and sliding down.
  • Cracking and collapsing of the snow, most likely in wind drifts, are signs that slopes are unstable and could avalanche.

With snow on the ground, now is a good time to sharpen our minds and check our gear. Replace batteries in your beacon, recharge your airbag, make sure probe poles aren’t sticky, and shovel parts fit together smoothly. There are many avalanche education opportunities this fall, such as an avalanche workshop next Wednesday evening (October 11) at MSU. Check out the full education offerings HERE.

This month we are preparing for winter, scheduling avalanche classes, and setting up weather stations. If you get outside send us an observation via our website, email (, phone (406-587-6984), or tag us on Instagram (#gnfacobs).


Powder Blast Fund-raiser

Friday, 27 October, 6:30 p.m. at the Emerson Cultural Center. Tickets and Info

Grizzly Outfitters of Big Sky is title sponsor of this year's 19th Annual Powder Blast. Mystery Ranch, World Boards, Community Food Co-op, and Spark R&D are key sponsors along with Alpine Orthopedics, Stronghold Fabrication, Highline Partners, and Marcie Hahn-Knoff Real Estate. Javaman, Edward Jones and Buck Products are other long-time PB supporters.

Join us for the best fundraiser of the year! All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Avalanche Center which supports avalanche awareness, education and information throughout southwest Montana.

Your $30 donation gets you an unforgettable evening at the Emerson Cultural Center.

Beer from Katabatic Brewing Company; Wine from Montana Ale Works; Dinner by Bountiful Table; Music by DJ Missy O'Malley

And the best silent auction of outdoor gear in the valley!

Events and Education Calendar - Stay tuned as we will update our calendar with more classes over the next few months.

11 October, MSU Snow and Avalanche Workshop, 5-9 p.m. at M.S.U. Free event! Info Here

1 November, Avalanche Awareness, 6-7:30 p.m. at REI Bozeman

6 December, Avalanche Awareness, 6-7:30 p.m. at REI Bozeman

7 December, Avalanche Awareness and Beacon Practice, 6-8 p.m. at Beall Park, Bozeman

Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 2, 3 or 9, Introduction to Avalanches w/ Field Day, Info and Register Here

Jan. 12 and 13, Companion Rescue Clinic, Info and Register

Jan. 17, 18 and 20 or 21, Introduction to Avalanches w/ Field Day, Info and Register Here

Jan. 24, 25 and 27, Advanced Avalanche Workshop w. Field Day, Info and Register Here

Feb. 9 and 10, Companion Rescue Clinic, Info and Register

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