Regional Conditions for Cooke City Area

as of 5:00 am
Dec 70″ | 20-50 SW
Dec 6 0″ | 5-10 W
Dec 5 0″ | 5-10 NW
10,000′     12/07 at 23:00
21.6℉
SW - 13mph
Gusts 25mph
9100′   12/08 at 0:00
28℉
Depth
Bottom Line: The Northern Gallatin Range and mountains around Cooke City have the deepest snowpacks and the most isolated weak layers. Triggering an avalanche is unlikely. However, we can’t rule out the possiblity that there may pockets with lingering instabilities. Dig a quick pit to look for unstable weak layers before committing to a steep slope.
Avalanche Concern: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Tue Dec 3

Moderate
Wed Dec 4

Moderate
Thu Dec 5

Moderate
Fri Dec 6

Moderate
Sat Dec 7

Low

Avalanche Activity- Cooke City Area

Bridger Range
Bridger Bowl
Bridger patrol triggered large slides on heavily wind loaded slopes
Incident details include images
Bridger Bowl
HS-ACc-R2-D3-O
Elevation: 8,500
Aspect: E
Coordinates: 45.8156, -110.9230
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Ski patrol triggered two large hard slab avalanches, one in Slushman's Ravine and the other in Mundy's Bowl, by knocking large cornices down on the slope. One was 4' deep, AC-HS-R2-D3-O, ran 1150' vertical. The other was 2.5' deep, AC-HS-R2-D2-O, ran 650' vertical. This was their first control in this area for the season, so the snowpack is similar to backcountry.


More Avalanche Details
Northern Gallatin
Hyalite - main fork
Natural and human triggered wind slab avalanches in Hyalite
Incident details include images
Hyalite - main fork
SS
Coordinates: 45.4472, -110.9620
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Observations from Hyalite today:

1. When approaching the base of Mt. Blackmore this morning at roughly 8:45am we observed strong swirling winds at higher elevations (summit of Blackmore and the Elephant/Blackmore Saddle). The winds we observed were primarily loading snow onto E and SE facing aspects. Furthermore, we witnessed four naturally triggered avalanches over a twenty minute span. All slides appeared to be D1/D2 on E and SE aspects and, seemingly, restricted to the newly loaded snow.

2. My partner and I climbed Zach Attack today. We intentionally triggered numerous size 1 wind slabs in the gully approaching the climb, which has slopes up to 35 degrees. These slabs were between 5 and 15 cm thick, up to 5m wide, 4F in hardness, touchy, and failed on lower density new snow. Although none of them ran more than 20m in this terrain, it would be a different story on steeper slopes, and if you were in an exposed position they had enough mass to push you around. Strong down and cross-slope winds formed these slabs at and below treeline, while the more alpine terrain of the climb itself was scoured.

3. Skied up in the main drainage of Hyalite today. Triggered some small wind slabs and propagating cracks. We backed off our main objective (a north facing couloir) because of these red flags and multiple crown lines on the same aspect and elevation.

 

More Avalanche Details
Cooke City
Mineral Mountain
Natural slide on Mineral Mountain
Incident details include images
Mineral Mountain
Coordinates: 45.0303, -109.9980
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From an email:

"Chris and I toured up the East Ridge of Mineral today and dug a pit on a NE aspect around 9000'. HS 75 cm, mostly facets with the exception of the new snow. ECTX. We found more of a windslab on some more exposed features although it wasn't reactive for us and we saw no natural avalanches with the exception of a small slide in the couloir skier's left of the summit of Meridian. We were still a ways away but it appeared to have run on the old/new snow interface."


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Cooke City Area

Displaying 1 - 40
  • The Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol triggered this slide on a heavily wind-loaded east facing slope at the ridgeline. They wrote, "With a shovel push the vertical cornice/pillow broke 15''-36'' deep on a steep and rounded bulge just south of Lee's Leap running on the crust. The debris terminated well below Pat's Chute." Its code is HS-AC-R2-D2-O-TR. Photo: BBSP
  • This large avalanche was triggered intentionally by the Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol at the ridgeline above little Slushman's Ravine. They were cutting a cornice and it broke 7 feet back from the edge, 4 feet deep and 150 feet wide. It was a hard slab avalanche and ran 1150 feet. It was east facing and broke on a crust formed in the early season. It's code is HS-AC-R2-D3-O-TL. Photo: BBSP

  • We put up the Taylor Fork weather station today (12/03) and it is churning out hourly data. Check it out here: https://www.mtavalanche.com/weather/stations/taylor-fork

  • We partnered with the Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association to put in two new beacon checkers at the Taylor Fork and Buck Ridge trailheads. They are working great!

    Thanks GVSA! Photo: GNFAC

  • We recognize that backcountry skiing can be daunting to approach. That’s why Ben Goertzen and the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center have teamed up to help breakdown some of the most prominent barriers of entry to backcountry skiing through this campaign. One lucky winner will be given a complete backcountry skiing kit, a spot in an avalanche awareness course, and featured in a three part video series that ends with an excursion into the backcountry with professional skier and filmmaker, Ben Goertzen . These videos will be used by the Friends of GNFAC to help other aspiring backcountry skiers gain awareness, knowledge and start to breakdown their barriers to entry.

    Click Here for More Details on How to Enter

    Watch the Backcountry Barriers Launch Video: https://vimeo.com/376473804

  • This avalanche of wind-drifted snow was triggered with a ski cut on a southeast aspect at 9,800'. Photo: T. Chingas

  • This slide was triggered up Hyalite from 100' away. It was a wind loaded slope at 9,000', northeast aspect. Photo: T. Chingas

  • From an observation:

    When approaching the base of Mt. Blackmore this morning at roughly 8:45 am we observed strong swirling winds at higher elevations (summit of Blackmore and the Elephant/Blackmore Saddle). The winds we observed were primarily loading snow onto E and SE facing aspects. Furthermore, we witnessed four naturally triggered avalanches over a twenty minute span. All slides appeared to be D1/D2 on E and SE aspects and, seemingly, restricted to the newly loaded snow. Photo: SAM

  • From an email:

    "Chris and I toured up the East Ridge of Mineral today and dug a pit on a NE aspect around 9000'. HS 75 cm, mostly facets with the exception of the new snow. ECTX. We found more of a windslab on some more exposed features although it wasn't reactive for us and we saw no natural avalanches with the exception of a small slide in the couloir skier's left of the summit of Meridian. We were still a ways away but it appeared to have run on the old/new snow interface." Photo: Henry Coppolillo

  • From obs.: "New snow from 24 hours ago blew around the ridge tops from 11pm last night until 7am this morning ~30mph. This soft 4 finger slab was about 6”-7” deep and broke on a convex roll.... We were assessing the terrain carefully and expected this result." Photo: R. Christian-Frederick

  • We triggered this dry loose avalanche on a west facing slope in Beehive Basin on 11/30. 3-5" of recent snow easily slid on top of a crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Dry loose snow avalanches were easy to trigger on Saturday 11/30 in Beehive Basin. Photo: GNFAC

  • These small crowns indicate that new snow may not bond well to the old snow surface. Photo: B. Fredlund

  • This snowpit was on a NE aspect at 10,000' on Henderson Bench. It was 3 feet deep and stable. Facets (weaker snow) are getting stronger. We will keep an eye on these to make sure the positive trend continues. Our snowpit profile is here. Photo: GNFAC

  • This 2-foot deep snowpit consisted of layers of crusts and facets. It was dug on a SW aspect at 9800' in Miller Drainage. Nothing broke clean in our stability tests and we are optimistic about it handling a load of new snow. Photo: GNFAC

    Snowpit profile is here.

  • We dug two pits, one on a SW aspect in the Rasta Chute off Scotch Bonnet Peak (marked with arrow) and another low on Fisher Peak at a spot called Wade's World (where Dave is standing). Photo: GNFAC

    Both snowpit profiles are here.

  • Dave Zinn dug a pit near the top of Rasta Chute (SW aspect) near Lulu Pass and found 65 cm of snow. The layers were crusts and some facets and we determined the slope to be stable. You can look at the snowpit profile here. Photo: GNFAC

  • Strong winds found snow to transport on Saturday 11/23. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • From obs: "We took a tour up into the Maid today. A generally stable snowpack in the area, new snow seemed to bond well with the underneath crust layer. We did observe small pinwheels/rollers on steep pitches on southeast aspects, mostly due to the rocks heating up during the day. We also observed sluff buildup on aprons below the shadier and steep northern aspects." Photo: Tommy S.

  • "Lots of cracking up there this morning on fresh, mid elevation wind slabs"

    Photo: B. Nobel

  • "While skinning up to the top of Powder Park lift at Bridger, we had roughly 15' cracks propagate on an E/SE aspect. A snowpit showed roughly 8" of wind slab above a few inches of facets, on top of last week's rain crust." November 11, 2019.

    Photo: G. Lawrence

  • On November 8th, skiers found weak facets and surface hoar had formed during prior cold and dry weather. Keep an eye out for these weak layers if they get buried. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • On November 8th, skiers found weak facets and surface hoar had formed during prior cold and dry weather. Keep an eye out for these weak layers if they get buried. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Wet loose avalanches at Bridger Bowl (observed on 11/5).

    Photo: G. Antonioli

  • Wet loose avalanches at Bridger Bowl (observed on 11/5).

    Photo: G. Antonioli

  • We found sensitive wind slabs near ridgelines on Mt. Blackmore and evidence of recent cross-loading. Photo: GNFAC

  • Gusty north wind and moderate snowfall created unstable drifts of snow at Bridger on Monday (10/28). Some slid naturally and some were easily triggered by skiers. Photo: P. Hinz

  • Small storm slabs triggered at Bridger on 10/26. From email: "slab formation appeared isolated to leeward sides of midslope terrain features and rollovers as well as at ridgetops". 

    Photo: G. Antonioli

  • Large avalanche observed on 10/25 near Imp Peak in the Taylor Fork. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Large avalanche observed on 10/25 near Imp Peak in the Taylor Fork. 

    Photo: B. VandenBos

  • A local near Fairy Lake gets a taste of fresh October snow and wind. "You know it's somewhat windy when the goats start closing their eyes and their beards get blown sideways." Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Strong westerly wind scoured snow off high ridgelines and slopes in the northern Bridger Range on Friday (10/11). Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Dry loose snow avalanches were observed on 10/10 as the recent snow settled. From e-mail "...saw some small, solar-initiated, dry loose snow slides in steep, rocky terrain (heads up ice climbers). With a firm surface beneath the new snow, these little guys were picking up steam quickly." Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Avalanche debris on the saddle near Hyalite Peak. This is indicative of the type of heavily wind loaded terrain near ridgelines where avalanches are most likely this time of year. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Broken off cornice on the saddle between Blackmore and Elephant on 10/5. "Snow was anywhere from inches deep with grass and rocks to hip deep. It was mostly knee deep though. Down in the flats below the bowl there was easily 8-10" fresh and another 2" on my way down..." Photo: @benjacobsenphoto

  • Ice Climbers on the Sphinx sent this photo from October 3, and noted,

    "No snow hazard of much concern on the approach. However, a quick hasty pit in an isolated wind pocket revealed a CT1 on this layer.  ice axe is to the ground." Photo: S. Magro

  • Wind transport of snow on Gallatin Peak, October 2, 2019. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • MSU SAW is October 9th from 5-9pm in SUB Ballroom A. www.montana.edu/outdoorrecreation/SAW.html for more info.

  • The mountains got their first coat of snow at the end of September, though it isn't quite enough to protect you from hitting rocks. Where the snow is drifted provides the best coverage, but is also the most likely place to trigger a small slide. A small slide would be painful if it pushes you into the many exposed rocks. Photo: G. Antonioli

  • We hiked in to put up the Flanders weather station on 9/25 and found a spotty distribution of 4-6" of snow above 8,000'. Photo: GNFAC

WebCams


Soda Butte Lodge, looking West

Soda Butte Lodge, looking East

Weather Forecast Cooke City Area

Extended Forecast for

2 Miles NNE Cooke City MT

  • Overnight

    Overnight: Snow.  Steady temperature around 26. West southwest wind around 15 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of around 4 inches.

    Snow

    Low: 26 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: Snow.  Temperature rising to near 26 by 11am, then falling to around 19 during the remainder of the day. West southwest wind 14 to 16 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of around 5 inches.

    Snow

    High: 26 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: Snow likely, mainly before 8pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. Wind chill values as low as -10. West northwest wind 10 to 14 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Snow Likely
    then Mostly
    Cloudy

    Low: 8 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Partly sunny, with a high near 21. Wind chill values as low as -5. West wind 10 to 13 mph.

    Partly Sunny

    High: 21 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. West southwest wind 11 to 14 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 10 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 23.

    Partly Sunny

    High: 23 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 12.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 12 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly before 11am.  Partly sunny, with a high near 26.

    Chance Snow

    High: 26 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 13 °F

The Last Word

The Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association deserves a shout-out for putting up new beacon checkers at Taylor Fork and Buck Ridge Trailheads.