This is Ian Hoyer with pre-season avalanche, weather and event information for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center on Friday, November 10th. This information is sponsored by Montana State Parks and Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue.
Earlier in the week, while it was raining in the valleys snow was falling on the high peaks (0.8-1.8” of snow water equivalent, likely 1-2 ft of new snow up high). It’s been dry the last couple days. Winds have been strong and generally westerly, with periods of sustained 30 mph winds and gusts into the 60s mph. Dry conditions are forecasted to continue through the coming week. High temperatures in the mountains will be in the 30s and 40s F with lows in the 20s and 30s F. Winds will be moderate to strong and generally westerly.
Snow is starting to pile up at high elevations and with that comes avalanches. On Wednesday, skiers triggered a wind slab that broke 1.5 ft deep in The Great One on Naya Nuki Peak in the northern Bridger Range (observation and photos). Thankfully the skier was able to self arrest and only took a short ride. Natural avalanches were also reported yesterday on Henderson Mtn, near Cooke City (photos).
Don’t get fooled by the bare ground at lower and mid elevations, if you’re headed to the high peaks you need to be thinking about avalanches. Any steep, snow covered slope is suspect. This is true whether you’re seeking out earlier season turns on skis or board, approaching ice climbs, hunting, or squeezing in the last hikes of the season. Either avoid these slopes or take the proper precautions, including having a partner, going one at a time, and carrying avalanche rescue gear that you’ve practiced using (avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe).
Conditions will trend towards stability as we get further out from the last snowfall, but wind drifting and loading will continue. Be wary of slopes that have gotten recently windloaded (look for dense pillows of continuous snow cover). If you’re planning on crossing or riding one of these steep windloaded slopes, watch for signs of instability such as cracks shooting out in front of you or recent avalanches and consider doing a quick stability test before committing to the slope.
Your observations are more important than ever during the early season as we get to know this season’s developing snowpack. If you get out, please share avalanche, snowpack or weather observations via our website, email (email@example.com), phone (406-587-6984), or Instagram (#gnfacobs).
We’ll be updating the Weather and Avalanche Log daily and issuing pre-season bulletins as needed throughout the fall as conditions warrant.
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.
We are offering an Avalanche Fundamentals with Field Session course targeted towards non-motorized users in December and January, and one geared towards motorized users in January. Sign up early before they fill up.