Regional Conditions for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
Today3″ | NA
Apr 3 0″ | NA
Apr 2 2″ | NA
8775′     3/27 at 10:00
17 ℉
SE - 4 mph
Gusts 7 mph
7750′   04/04 at 4:00
19℉
74″ Depth
Bottom Line: With warmer temperatures, sunny skies, more than a foot of new snow this week and buried weak layers, we have a number of avalanche concerns today. All our concerns today are within the upper snowpack. You could trigger a slide in dry new snow, on weak layers buried 2-3 ft deep, or as the snow surface becomes wet.

Past 5 Days

Mon Mar 30

Moderate
Tue Mar 31

Considerable
Wed Apr 1

Considerable
Thu Apr 2

Moderate
Fri Apr 3

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Lionhead Range

Northern Gallatin
Mt Ellis
Skier triggered small sluffs on Little Ellis
Incident details include images
Mt Ellis
L-ASc-R0-D1
Elevation: 7,450
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 45.5777, -110.9550
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Winds only 5mph out of the west, temps in the 20’s, 8-10” new snow overnight. Dry-loose intentionally triggered D-1’s from ridge-top on 45 degree NE-facing slopes at 7450’. Otherwise, no obvious signs of instability, skied down through N Ridge glades.


More Avalanche Details
Southern Madison
Quake Lake
Collapsing and natural avalanches at Quake Lake
Incident details include images
Quake Lake
SS-N-I
Elevation: 9,600
Coordinates: 44.8524, -111.3920
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

"I skied near Quake Lake today, and observed several signs that the snowpack has not adjusted to this last storm yet. While ascending, several drifts collapsed under my weight, and I observed a very recent natural slide on a wind-loaded, east facing slope at about 9200'. I saw another, larger natural slide on a wind-loaded N/NW slope at 9600' that looked to have run on the new/old interface sometime late yesterday. I dug a pit on a south aspect at 9900', and found a thin layer of graupel on top of a crust 35cm down. This failed at ECTP3, which was a little hair-raising. The rest of the pack on that aspect seemed to be fairly well consolidated..."


More Avalanche Details
Lionhead Range
Hebgen Lake
Multiple signs of instability above Hebgen Lake
Hebgen Lake
Aspect: E
Coordinates: 44.8381, -111.3430
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Today at Hebgen we were all excited obviously about the new snow.  Having heard about and seen the surface hoar that formed several weeks ago, this was definitely on my mind, but figured like usual we would mitigate our risk and stay on mellower terrain to avoid causing or being caught in a slide. As we got higher and broke out into 1 of the higher meadows we got a good woomph that stopped the three of us in our tracks. We skinned a little further and then dug a pit confirming what we were already concerned about, ectp 18. We rode from the ridge and then cut back to the skintrack along the ridge (commonly where most folks skin up) and kept out of the steeper slide paths.

4 red flags I observed, not to mention the Considerable danger rating given in the morning for S. Madison.  1) the big woomph 2) poor test results 3) riding in or near terrain traps.


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Lionhead Range

Displaying 1 - 40
  • A skier triggered this avalanche on Saddle Peak on Thursday, April 2. No one was caught. It appears to have broken under the new snow. Big avalanches in big terrain are usually unsurvivable.  Photo: GNFAC

  • The annual fundraiser, Give Big Gallatin Valley, will be held 6 p.m. on April 30 to 6 p.m. May 1. The Friends of the Avalanche Center are participating again this year!

  • This tree near the north ridge shows no signs of wind during the storm. Photo: PC

  • "I skied near Quake Lake today, and observed several signs that the snowpack has not adjusted to this last storm yet. While ascending, several drifts collapsed under my weight, and I observed a very recent natural slide on a wind-loaded, east facing slope at about 9200'." Photo: Sam Reinsel

  • This surface hoar crystal is almost 1.5 cm (each square is 2mm) and was the weak layer in a few avalanches on Buck Ridge (3/29/20). Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw this natural avalanche from afar. It was NE aspect and likely failed on a layer of surface hoar 1-1.5' deep. The Madison Valley is in the background. Photo: GNFAC

  • Sunday (3/29/20) skiers near Fairy Lake saw this cornice collapse that ran for quite a ways in October bowl. Photo: T. Gittins

  • From obs. (3/29/20): "Significant wind started building mid morning, forming even bigger cornices and wind loading many slopes. Noticed this slide on an East/Northeast aspect at the back of the bowl above Maid of the Mist creek, possibly triggered by cornice fall but unknown. Happened between 9:45am and 11:30am today, as at 9:30am it was not there, and when we returned to the spot around 11:30am the slide was visible." Photo: CP

  • Today on the east side of Lionhead Ridge we found a layer of weak, near-surface facets buried under a foot and a half of new snow. This is definitely something to watch out for especially on wind-loaded slopes. Photos: GNFAC

  • Enormous cornices overhanging Lionhead Ridge. Photo: GNFAC

  • Snowfall throughout the afternoon fluctuated between S1 - S5 (during brief squalls). The winds started out moderate and from the west but calmed by the last lap ~5 pm. The new snow (from last night/this morning) was fairly well bonded to the sun/melt-freeze crust below, but the storm came in subtly upside down. Today’s snowfall (accumulating ~3” while skiing between 1-530) was light. Right along the ridgeline, we triggered 4 predictable small storm slabs 4~6” deep on the upside-down storm snow from last night/this morning, but surprisingly not on the old crust. They were each 5-10m wide x 5m long and only ran ~5m vertically. Photo: Z Miller

  • This is a photo of a small roof avalanche near Island Park. Warming temperatures cause water to percolate through the snow which lubricates the sliding surface. Roof avalanches have injured and killed people in the past, just one more thing to worry about. Photo: M.E. 

  • Dave Zinn digs a hand pit along the ridge to assess how the new snow is sticking to the ice crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Obs: "School bus size cornices over Easterly portions of Lionhead Ridge. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the largest cornices were about 20-25' tall. We dug a few pits on East Facing slopes between 9,000-9,500 ft with the worst result being an ECTN-21 however these Cornices are primed and ready to fall with the abundant sunshine and warming weather." Photo: JR

  • From e-mail: "Natural wet slides... caused us to back off our plan of heading that way and ski a north, shady aspect instead. On a southern aspect. 9000ft. 1:30pm. We dug a hasty pit and observed a weak layer about 1m down. The facets were beginning to round." Photo: K. Master

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • From IG post with #gnfacobs: "I triggered a small windslab, mid slope on the north face of Wilson. It was a a pretty stubborn slab that broke above me. Cross loaded from lookers right. 6-8” deep." Photo: B Gill

  • From south of Big Sky yesterday 3/17 about 9:00, just north of Buck Ridge at 8500'. Large surface hoar on northerly aspects. Photo: Spence

  • We dug near the top of Bacon Rind and found 155cm of snow. Our primary concern is with the upper snowpack. As it warms and wets we can expect an increase of avalanche activity on the ice crusts. Facets are still dry and soft at the bottom of the pack and I got this layer to break with an ECTP29. Photo: GNFAC

  • From e-mail: "...some wet loose avy activity observed today just west of Cooke City (south aspect, around 8200').  Overall though, minimal wet avalanche activity observed with this significant warm up..." Photo: B. Fredlund

  • Point releases across highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Point releases across the highway from Bacon Rind. 3/6/2020

    Photo: GNFAC

  • Wet slide in Buffalo Horn Creek. 3/6/2020.

    Photo: A. Norlander

  • From an email, "It did look like the east face of Ramshorn Peak slid pretty recently. The blowing snow and clouds weren't conducive to good pictures but you can see the crown line below and to the right of the summit. Looked like a cornice fall triggered it." Photo: B. Richards

  • Overview of an avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. Photo: GNFAC

  • An avalanche triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. The debris piled 8' deep on the road, which creates a terrain trap. Photo: GNFAC

  • An avalanche was triggered on 2/27/2020 at 8:30 p.m. by a groomer between Storm Castle and Swan Creeks in the northern Gallatin Range. The driver was ok, but the machine did a full barrel roll and was very badly damaged. Photo: GNFAC

  • From obs form: "While approaching Black Mountain from Pine Creek Lake.... We skied South aspect and as it warmed we triggered D1 R1 slabs that ran slow and short." Photo: T. Hoefler

  • From email: "Photo attached of a natural avalanche from yesterday, just south of Cooke City.  It's on an E, NE aspect, with a crown around 9,300'.  Looks like it occurred yesterday am, as a result of a cornice fall." B. Fredlund

  • Skiers saw this 2-4' deep natural crown on Sunday 2/23/20. Photo: from IG @skishot

  • From IG #gnfacobs post: "An avalanche from early Tuesday (02/18) morning caused by a natural cornice fall. Note the step down partway down the path. ENE @ 9700. Ran 1300’." Photo: A. Whitmore

  • Slide in Taylor’s Fork, crown of about 5-6’ and about 100' wide. Human triggered. Photo: Matt Seifert

  • We rode into Lionhead and found good stability. A sledder highmarked up the hill and then came down right next to us, confirming our results. Wind-loading from yesterday is still a concern, and so are the facets near the ground, although less so than a couple weeks ago. Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw a group of six snowmobilers who said they triggered these slides in McAtee Basin on the left side of the meadow on Saturday, Feb 8. I didn't see tracks up on the hill or sidehill tracks so they may have triggered the slope from the flats below. The debris runs all the way to bottom of the hill. Photo: K Peaslee

  • We saw a group of six snowmobilers who said they triggered these slides in McAtee Basin on the left side of the meadow on Saturday, Feb 8. I didn't see tracks up on the hill or sidehill tracks so they may have triggered the slope from the flats below. The debris runs all the way to bottom of the hill. Photo: K Peaslee

  • We saw a group of six snowmobilers who said they triggered these slides in McAtee Basin on the left side of the meadow on Saturday, Feb 8. I didn't see tracks up on the hill or sidehill tracks so they may have triggered the slope from the flats below. The debris runs all the way to bottom of the hill. Photo: K Peaslee

  • "Noted two SS-D1.5/2 naturals (presuming based on lack of any sort of tracks) on Wheeler, typical spots for these conditions, both SE aspect around 8000'." Photo: G. Antoniolli

  • "Noted several avalanches (NW aspect ~ 8800') off of Elephant that traveled quite far into the trees where the summer trail typically runs, all appear to be new snow, D1- D2 in size, average 2' crowns, running on old/new interface from  Feb 2. They appear to have run midstorm, sometime yesterday (photos 1,2,3).  Above 9000', W Winds were crafting fresh wind slabs that were most reactive on a midstorm crystal/density change that buried a layer of stellars ~ 1' deep in shallower spots,  topped with denser snow." Photo: G. Antoniolli

  • "Natural avalanche. North facing slope. Around half mile wide. Photos don't show half of the slide. Broke on the ground facets. Crown was between 3 and 15 feet deep. We didn't get a photo of the deepest crown. Ripped trees out around 5" diameter." Photo: Reed Malmstrom

  • "Natural avalanche. North facing slope. Around half mile wide. Photos don't show half of the slide. Broke on the ground facets. Crown was between 3 and 15 feet deep. We didn't get a photo of the deepest crown. Ripped trees out around 5" diameter." Photo: Reed Malmstrom

Videos- Lionhead Range

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Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

  • Today

    Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 26. Wind chill values as low as zero. South southwest wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

    Mostly Sunny

    High: 26 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A 50 percent chance of snow after midnight.  Increasing clouds, with a low around 21. South wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Chance
    Snow

    Low: 21 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 30. South southwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.  New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 30 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: Snow likely, mainly after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24. Southeast wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Slight Chance
    Snow then
    Snow Likely

    Low: 24 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Snow before noon, then snow showers after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  High near 31. South wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

    Snow

    High: 31 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: A chance of snow showers before midnight, then a slight chance of snow after midnight. Some thunder is also possible.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. South southwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow
    Showers then
    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: 26 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: A 30 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Southwest wind 13 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.  Little or no snow accumulation expected.

    Chance Snow

    High: 34 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 24. Southwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.

    Partly Cloudy

    Low: 24 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 35.

    Mostly Sunny

    High: 35 °F

The Last Word

On Wednesday, a backcountry skier was caught, buried, and killed in an avalanche on Taylor Mountain, near Teton Pass, in Wyoming. Preliminary information is available HERE.