Trip Planning for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
Today0″ | 15-30 W
Jan 16 0″ | 10-32 W
Jan 15 0″ | 5-15 W
8775′  01/17 at 21:08
22℉
W - 19mph
Gusts 30mph
7750′   01/17 at 20:00
26℉
Depth
Bottom Line: Don’t discard your backcountry travel protocols on days like today when avalanches are unlikely. These protocols are what we use to hedge our bets when entering avalanche terrain. Dig a pit and test the snowpack for isolated instabilities, carry rescue equipment and know how to use it, ride or ski one at a time in avalanche terrain, and manage your terrain choice to minimize the negative effects of a small slide.
Primary Problem: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Thu Jan 13

Moderate
Fri Jan 14

Moderate
Sat Jan 15

Low
Sun Jan 16

Low
Today

Low

Relevant Avalanche Activity

Lionhead Range
Lionhead Ridge
Avalanche near Lionhead Peak
Incident details include images
Lionhead Ridge
SS-N-R3-D2-O
Elevation: 9,000
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 44.7328, -111.3320
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

This avalanche broke wide in a northerly facing bowl off Lionhead Ridge. It looks to have broken a foot or less deep. The propogation indicates a uniform weak layer, likely near-surface facets or surface hoar.


More Avalanche Details
Island Park
Mt Jefferson Bowl
Avalanche Cycle in the Centennial Mtns
Incident details include images
Mt Jefferson Bowl
HS-N
Coordinates: 44.5658, -111.5000
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

A large avalanche cycle occurred around Mt Jefferson, Reas Peak and Hellroaring Creek around the 28th of December. Slides ran on faceted snow near the ground and they propagated far and wide. 


More Avalanche Details
Cooke City
Scotch Bonnet
Double Avalanche Fatality, Scotch Bonnet Mountain
Incident details include images
Incident details contain video
Scotch Bonnet
SS-AMu-R2-D2.5-O
Elevation: 10,000
Aspect: SE
Coordinates: 45.0566, -109.9510
Caught: 2 ; Buried: 2; Killed: 2

On December 27, two snowmobilers were caught and killed in an avalanche on Scotch Bonnet Mountain, north of Cooke City. A group of 8 snowmobilers from Minnesota were on their second day of riding when 2 of their machines got stuck on the SE face of Scotch Bonnet Mountain. Two members of their group rode up to help them dig out and the avalanche was triggered soon after. It broke 4-5 feet deep, ran 300 feet wide and 500 feet vertical and killed 2 riders, burying them under 4-5 feet of debris. Everyone had rescue equipment and they were recovered by their party. Park County Sheriff Search and Rescue brought the victims to town. The avalanche broke on a layer of facets 1.5 feet off the ground underneath a thick slab of wind drifted snow. The avalanche is classified SS-AMu-R2-D2.5-O.

 


More Avalanche Details

Relevant Photos

Displaying 1 - 30
  • Riders in the Lionhead area noted that a layer of feathery surface hoar is continuing to grow. If this gets buried by the next snowstorm it will become a new weak layer. Photo: G Ewsuk

  • Riders reported on 1/15/22: "Some surface hoar is forming on nearly every aspect at all elevations. over 1 cm thick in some areas." Photo: B. Rasmussen

  • Riders reported on 1/15/22: "Some surface hoar is forming on nearly every aspect at all elevations. over 1 cm thick in some areas." Photo: B. Rasmussen

  • Settlement rings around the base of trees near Cooke City, January 15, 2022. Photo: B. Fredlund

  • Ian Hoyer stands in the 7 foot deep snowpit we dug to look at layering and stability. Stability was good. We dug at 9300' off the Sawtelle Peak Road to keep tabs on stability since we put out warnings and basic information for this area on our Trip Planning page. Photo: GNFAC

  • A wind swept ridgeline at the head of Targhee Creek near Lionhead. 1/11/22. Photo: GNFAC

  • Cornices along Lionhead Ridge. 1/11/22. Photo: GNFAC

  • A layer of near surface facets is buried about a foot down on some slopes near Lionhead. 1/11/22 Photo: GNFAC

  • Small natural storm slab avalanche seen near Lionhead. 1/6/22. Photo: C. Leonard

  • The West Yellowstone Beacon Park is up and running for the season! 

    Photo: J. Norlander (1/6/22)

  • This avalanche broke wide in a northerly facing bowl off Lionhead Ridge. It looks to have broken a foot or less deep. The propogation indicates a uniform weak layer, likely near-surface facets or surface hoar. Photo: B. Fuglie

  • A sled was recovered uphill of the 2 avalanche victims in the same area it was stuck. The sled was found with a probe line and is buried 3-4 feet deep. The avalanche crown can be seen in the upper slopes above them. Photo: GNFAC

  • The crown of the avalanche that killed two snowmobilers on December 27, 2021 was 300 feet wide and 4-5 feet deep. Photo: GNFAC

  • These are the two sites where the 2 snowmobilers were recovered. They were buried 4-5 feet deep in debris piles that measured 9 feet deep. Photo: GNFAC

  • Ian Hoyer stands next to the crown where we dug a snowpit and investigated the snow structure. The crown averaged 4-5 feet deep. Near his right knee is the layer of weak faceted snow that broke 40 cm above the ground. Above this layer was a thick slab of windblown snow. Photo: GNFAC

  • Dave Zinn of the GNFAC gets 3 layers breaking in his Extended Column Test. About 3 feet of snow fell in the last 4 days which got blown into wind slabs. The weight of the new snow is also creating instability on a weak layer of sugary facets near the ground. Photo: GNFAC

  • Riders in the Lionhead area observed 5-6 naturally occurring avalanches that likely failed on 12/15 at the tail end of a 3' snowstorm. Photo: S. Tyson

  • Located off Lionhead Ridge outside West Yellowstone, this natural avalanche likely released after the large storm ended Wednesday, December 15. This slope is SE facing and the crown is about 9,400 feet. Faceted snow at/near the ground was the likely weak layer that avalanched. Photo: GNFAC

  • Snowpack on Two Top Mtn. near Island Park, ID on 12/17/21. More than 3 feet of snow fell last week and it was right side up and generally stable. There is some weak snow and crusts near the ground, but we are not seeing signs that these layers are unstable yet. Photo: E. Knoff

  • A skier in the Southern Madison Range remotely triggered this avalanche in the Bacon Rind area from a flat bench above the slope. It broke over 50-75' away where the slope got steeper. Human-triggered avalanches are likely. Avoid steep terrain until the snowpack stabilizes. Photo: Anonymous 

  • From obs: 12/12/21: "Heavy wind loading from gusty SW winds and recent snowfall. Made for some touchy conditions. This was at 9100’ between Sage and Sunlight basins." Photo: JR Mooney

  • At Lionhead Ridge, strong winds are drifting snow into unstable slabs. On steep rollovers, we observed shooting cracks and one large collapse, or "whumph." With more wind and snow in the forecast, expect conditions to get more dangerous before they improve. Photo: GNFAC

  • New snow was blown into thick drifts that can be triggered by skiers or riders. Cracking like this is a sign that drifts are unstable and could slide on steeper slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • From email (12/5/21) : "Small avalanche triggered while approaching ice climb in East fork of Hyalite basin. 

    Another D1 natural avalanche was observed later in the day similar aspect/elevation

    NE @7600’
    SS-AFu-D0.5-I"

    Photo: A. Schoening

  • Skiers on Mount Blackmore observed cracking within the freshly wind-loaded snow on a southeast-facing slope just below the ridge (11/24/21). Photo: J Schack

  • Snowcover on Lionhead ridge begins at about 7,000' in elevation on 11/16. Snowmobiling or skiing from Targhee Pass looks very thin and patchy. Photo: GNFAC

  • Taken on 11/16, consistent snow on all aspects begins around 7,000 feet. 1.5-2 feet of snow is found above 8.500'. Photo: GNFAC

  • From e-mail 11/7/21: "...Once in airplane bowl we saw multiple large slides that ran last night, syn-storm. Most of which came down from the East face of Sac. A few 200-300’ wide and running the length of the bowl.,,, attached is a grainy cell phone pic of the slides in Airplane Bowl." -Anonymous.

  • From email 11/4/21: "...noticed two small wet loose avalanches in the east facing bowl between Pomp and Hardscrabble Peaks." Photo: H. Darby

  • From e-mail 11/4/21: "Hiking up in the Bridger Range from Sacagawea Pass and noticed no faceting of the current snowpack. The snow near the pass and on the ridge is very wind affected as is to be expected and dropping into the bowl on the east side of the Pass the snowpack there has a distinct sun crust. Dug around a little bit at 8600 ft on a NE aspect and found a sun crust of about two inches with what felt like rounded grains below that. Even in the direct sun, the crust was taking a long time to rewarm and was pretty slippery..." Photo: H. Darby

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Rendezvous Ski Trail, W. Yellowstone

Snowpit Profiles- Lionhead Range

 

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Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

Winter Weather Advisory January 18, 07:00am until January 19, 03:00pm
Click here for hazard details and duration
Winter Weather Advisory
  • Tonight

    Tonight: A slight chance of snow between 1am and 3am.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. Southwest wind 11 to 13 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 20%.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Slight
    Chance Snow

    Low: 14 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: A slight chance of snow before 11am, then a chance of snow after noon.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 20. Wind chill values as low as zero. Southwest wind 9 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 20 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as -5. West wind 11 to 14 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 11 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 18. Wind chill values as low as -5. West southwest wind around 11 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 18 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow before 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. Southwest wind around 14 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow then
    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 10 °F

  • Thursday

    Thursday: Snow likely, mainly after 11am.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 15. South southwest wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 15 °F

  • Thursday
    Night

    Thursday Night: Snow.  Low around 13. South southwest wind 15 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Snow

    Low: 13 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: Snow likely, mainly before 11am.  Partly sunny, with a high near 21. Southwest wind around 14 mph becoming north northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph.

    Snow Likely

    High: 21 °F

  • Friday
    Night

    Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 6.

    Partly Cloudy

    Low: 6 °F

The Last Word

As we wait for the next dump of snow, now is an excellent time to practice avalanche rescue. Are you fast and efficient with your beacon? Is your partner? Even the sharpest knife needs an occasional tune. Check out this BCA video to hone your skills.


  <<  This is the most recent forecast.