Regional Conditions for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
Today1″ | N/A
Dec 13 4″ | N/A
Dec 12 3″ | N/A
8775′     4/02 at 23:00
27 ℉
NW - 6 mph
Gusts 9 mph
7750′   12/14 at 21:00
15℉
29″ Depth
Bottom Line: Multiple layers of weak snow are capped by a foot or more snow that fell over the last week. This is an unstable recipe. You can trigger avalanches remotely from below or from adjacent low angle terrain. Avoid riding on or below steep slopes.
Avalanche Concern: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Tue Dec 10

Considerable
Wed Dec 11

Considerable
Thu Dec 12

Considerable
Fri Dec 13

Considerable
Today

Considerable

Avalanche Activity- Lionhead Range

Southern Madison
Bacon Rind
Whumphing and collapses at Bacon Rind
Bacon Rind
Coordinates: 44.9609, -111.1000
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From an email, "Signs of instability were impossible to miss in Bacon Rind today. Lower elevations with thick trees produced localized collapsing under our skis. At higher elevations, and in open meadows, collapsing and whumpfing communicated across whole slopes, shook snow off trees, and sent birds flying. 

 
The SE -> E facing meadows near ridgeline (~8900 ft) had 18-24" of snow. The early Nov crust that's plagued the Big Sky area was either entirely absent or decomposed to the point of falling apart when touched. Nothing but a facet farm with new snow."

More Avalanche Details
Lionhead Range
Targhee Pass Meadows
Widespread cracking at Lionhead
Incident details include images
Targhee Pass Meadows
SS-ASc
Elevation: 8,200
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 44.6859, -111.2900
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Skiers at Targhee Pass near West Yellowstone reported: "We got a few good collapses while skinning up through east-facing low angle meadows, and got some serious cracking and collapsing while stomping on fresh wind pillows just below ridgeline on a northeast-facing slope at about 8200'. We dug down at one of the cracks and found a 35cm thick F+ slab that had failed on a layer of 4-6mm depth hoar. Cracks propagated close to 100'..." 


More Avalanche Details
Northern Madison
Buck Ridge
Many natural avalanches on Buck Ridge
Incident details include images
Buck Ridge
SS-N-R1-D1.5-O
Elevation: 9,000
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.1719, -111.3800
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes.


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Lionhead Range

Displaying 1 - 40
  • On Friday (12/13) there were natural avalanche crowns in Carrot Basin of Taylor Fork. These were a few days old, but show the potential to trigger slides on a buried persistent weak layer. Photo: GNFAC

  • Skiers at Targhee Pass near West Yellowstone reported: "We got a few good collapses while skinning up through east-facing low angle meadows, and got some serious cracking and collapsing while stomping on fresh wind pillows just below ridgeline on a northeast-facing slope at about 8200'. We dug down at one of the cracks and found a 35cm thick F+ slab that had failed on a layer of 4-6mm depth hoar. Cracks propagated close to 100'..." Photo: A. Schauer

  • Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes. Photo: R. Rustigian

  • Riders reported multiple natural slab avalanches on N facing slopes. Note widespread crowns along slope in background. Photo: R. Rustigian

  • A snowmobiler triggered an avalanche (yellow pin) north of Crown Butte (the gray mountain at the top of the image). This zone is typically approached from Lulu Pass. His sled was partially buried, but the rider was not. Lots of new snow in the last 24 hours created a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger.

  • This natural avalanche on the northeast side of Crown Butte near Daisy Pass (Cooke City) almost caught people below. Approximately 2 feet of snow has fallen with wind and the avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE. Photo: B. Whittle

  • Photo taken 12/6 near Two Top, south of West Yellowstone.

    From email: "South facing stuff was thinner than I expected and north and west facing was a lot better than I expected. South facing stuff was 59cm deep and we had multiple ECT-P 14’s between the facets at the bottom and the newer snow."

    Photo: B. Radecky

  • This is a close-up of the angular Depth Hoar grains found near the ground in the mountains south of Big Sky to West Yellowstone. These are weak and cannot support a lot of snow weight. Avalanches will break near the ground on these. Photo: GNFAC

  • At the bottom of the snowpack is a thick layer of weak and sugary, faceted snow called Depth Hoar. These large grains do not bond well and form an unstable foundation of the snowpack. Avalanches will break at this layer. Photo: GNFAC

  • 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

  • From obs.: "We found 12" to 16" of new snow sitting on top of 6"-8" of sugary snow that extended to the ground. We skied an east-facing slope of approx. 30º and found no signs of instability. We avoided steeper, north facing slopes... accessed by West Denny Cr. trailhead after seeing 12" - 16" of sugary snow there earlier in the week preceding the storm. Was concerned about new snow overloading the old snow and about ascending below the wind-loaded Lionshead Ridge." Photo: K. Peters (horizontal pole represents line of old snow with new snow above)

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

  • Sometime last week (11/20-11/22) these large avalanches occurred on heavily wind loaded northeast facing slopes in the Absaroka. The snowpack there is thin and faceted, similar to the southern ranges and mountains near West Yellowstone. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Sometime last week (11/20-11/22) these large avalanches occurred on heavily wind loaded northeast facing slopes in the Absaroka. The snowpack there is thin and faceted, similar to the southern ranges and mountains near West Yellowstone. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • 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.

  • A slab avalanche was spotted from the highway. This slope is to the north of Lionhead Ridge a few miles. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • As of 11/20/19 The mountains near Lionhead Ridge outside of West Yellowstone have thin snow cover. The snowpack is shallow (6-18"), and mostly weak and faceted. This will make dangerous avalanche conditions when it snows more. Photo: GNFAC

  • We skied into Lionhead Ridge on Wednesday, November 20th. The snowpack was shallow (6-18"), and mostly weak and faceted. This will make dangerous avalanche conditions when it snows more. Photo: GNFAC

  • "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

  • 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

  • We put up the Lionhead weather station on Tuesday, October 8th. There was 4-6" of snow above 8,000'. Photo: GNFAC

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

  • Tonight

    Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 3. Wind chill values as low as -12. West wind 7 to 11 mph becoming south southwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 3 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly after 11am.  Partly sunny, with a high near 11. Wind chill values as low as -11. Southwest wind 8 to 13 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 11 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow before 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 1. Wind chill values as low as -15. Southwest wind around 11 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow then
    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 1 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 8. Wind chill values as low as -16. Southwest wind 9 to 16 mph.

    Cold

    High: 8 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -1. South wind 10 to 13 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: -1 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 11.

    Partly Sunny

    High: 11 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 3.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 3 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 18.

    Mostly Cloudy

    High: 18 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 7 °F

The Last Word

Check out this report of a close call with an avalanche in Alaska. A solo hiker was caught and buried for over an hour before being dug out by a passer-by. While we're glad it had a happy outcome, it’s a good reminder to always carry rescue gear and go with a partner to tilt the odds in your favor.