Regional Conditions for Northern Madison

as of 5:00 am
Today1″ | 15-35 SW
Jan 20 0″ | 15-25 SW
Jan 19 3″ | 10-25 WSW
9400′     1/21 at 21:00
20 ℉
SW - 14 mph, Gusts 22
0 " New
8880′   01/21 at 21:00
24℉
42″ Depth
Bottom Line: Seventeen human triggered and natural avalanches were reported from this weekend in the mountains around Lionhead and Cooke City and the Bridger, Madison, and Southern Gallatin Ranges. People have been caught, but, thankfully, no one has ended up underneath the snow. While it continues to get harder to trigger these large avalanches each day without new snow, it is still possible. The management strategy is careful terrain selection and an honest assessment of what you are willing to risk.
Avalanche Concern: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Fri Jan 17

Moderate
Sat Jan 18

Considerable
Sun Jan 19

Moderate
Mon Jan 20

Moderate
Today

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Northern Madison

Northern Madison
McAtee Basin
Snowmobile Triggered Avalanche McAtee Basin
Incident details include images
McAtee Basin
HS-AMu-R2-D2-O
Coordinates: 45.1771, -111.4350
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From Instagram: "I watched a snowmobiler set this avalanche off today. Very scary in MT right now."


More Avalanche Details
Lionhead Range
Lionhead Ridge
Snowmobile Triggered Avalanche Lionhead
Incident details include images
Lionhead Ridge
HS-AM-R2-D2-G
Elevation: 8,800
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 44.7336, -111.3290
Caught: 1 ; Buried: 0

From email: "I wanted to make you aware of a snowmobile triggered slide in Lionhead today. Fortunately, I was not injured, was able to stay completely on top, climbed through the majority of the snow wash after seeing it begin to break, and relatively slowly slid down with the last of the moving snow while still on the machine. When I came to a stop I stood up and was completely free of the snow. Our group is trained in avalanche safety, practiced beacon use prior to leaving town in the morning, were wearing avy gear, and were very fortunate that this ended the way it did.  

A clear reminder that this can happen to any of us and to be careful out there."


More Avalanche Details
Northern Madison
Cedar Mtn.
Snowmobile triggered on Cedar
Incident details include images
Cedar Mtn.
HS-R3-D2.5-O
Elevation: 10,000
Aspect: NE
Coordinates: 45.2263, -111.4960
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

I was on the west side of Pioneer Mtn digging a pit for YC Ski Patrol. I heard a few groups of snowmobiles cruising around the foothills of cedar. I turned and saw two snowmobilers cresting the ridge above the slide pictured as the debris was settling down. The sledders enjoyed the view for a few minutes before turning back the way they came and stumbled upon the slide they had unknowingly triggered. They skirted around the side of the crown and stopped for a few minutes. Based on the height of the rider off his sled, I would estimate the crown to be roughly 10’ at its max height. NE aspect below Cedar


More Avalanche Details

Photos- Northern Madison

Displaying 1 - 40
  • Small snowmobiler triggered avalanche in McAtee Basin. From Instagram: "I watched a snowmobiler set this avalanche off today" T. Chamberlain

  • Small snowmobiler triggered avalanche in McAtee Basin. From Instagram: "I watched a snowmobiler set this avalanche off today" T. Chamberlain

  • From email:

    "I wanted to make you aware of a snowmobile triggered slide in Lionhead today. Fortunately, I was not injured, was able to stay completely on top, climbed through the majority of the snow wash after seeing it begin to break, and relatively slowly slid down with the last of the moving snow while still on the machine. When I came to a stop, I stood up and was completely free of the snow. Our group is trained in avalanche safety, practiced beacon use prior to leaving town in the morning, were wearing avy gear, and were very fortunate that this ended up the way it did. 

    A clear reminder that this can happen to any of us and to be careful out there."

    Photo: Anonymous 

  • From obs: "I was on the west side of Pioneer Mtn digging a pit for YC Ski Patrol. I heard a few groups of snowmobiles cruising around the foothills of cedar. I turned and saw two snowmobilers cresting the ridge above the slide pictured as the debris was settling down. The sledders enjoyed the view for a few minutes before turning back the way they came and stumbled upon the slide they had unknowingly triggered. They skirted around the side of the crown and stopped for a few minutes. Based on the height of the rider off his sled, I would estimate the crown to be roughly 10’ at its max height. NE aspect below Cedar" Photo: J. Marcinko

  • A skier was skinning uphill, breaking trail and triggered this avalanche on 1/19/20. They reported, " released a small pocket near texas meadow. Maybe 50 ft wide, 2 ft crown and ran 150 ft....I was not caught and nobody was buried or injured. I was skinning up at about 1130...I got to where it was steeper and as I reached thinner snow near rocks I felt a whump. I took one more step and the pocket released."

  • January 20th from 4-8pm at Beehive Basin Brewery, join the YC and Big Sky Ski Patrols to support the Darren Johnson memorial fund. Darren was a ski patroller at the Yellowstone Club who was killed in an avalanche on January 19th, 2016. The memorial fund gives scholarships to send patrollers to the National Avalanche School.

  • The crown of this snowmobiler triggered avalanche tapered to a thin slab. These thin areas of the slope are prime zones to trigger a slide from. Photo: GNFAC

  • "... while touring in the Northern Bridgers, my partner and I noticed a very large avalanche that occurred on a North face in "October Bowl" just to the south of Hardscrabble Pk. We didn't witness it and are unsure of a trigger, but we came in contact with all parties believed to be out there and assume it occurred naturally early this morning from heavy wind-loading. The crown seemed to be 2-3' deep but stepped down to the ground about 200' below the crown. The slide was about 400' in width and ran about 1,000' and we assumed classifications of R3.5 and D3. Debris pile was expansive and deep, and prompted us to stick to Southern aspects."  Photo: McKinley Talty

  • From an observation:

    Once in the bottom of Bear Basin, we could see a much larger avalanche that looked to be 1-2 days old. Its disjointed crown was some 150ft wide, but it was hard to tell how deep it was, as its crown was fairly far away and partly blown back in. Parts of the slide ran on the ground layer of facets but looked to be the result of wind load. Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • From an observation:

    Once in the bottom of Bear Basin, we could see a much larger avalanche that looked to be 1-2 days old. Its disjointed crown was some 150ft wide, but it was hard to tell how deep it was, as its crown was fairly far away and partly blown back in. Parts of the slide ran on the ground layer of facets but looked to be the result of wind load. Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • From e-mail: "Skiers triggered two separate slides on south Saddle this afternoon. we witnessed the smaller slide to the lookers right of the big slide, the bigger one happened later apparently... The first smaller slide was caused by a ski cut near the trees, fracture was about 2 feet, soft slab that seemed to run on a thin sun crust. below the sun crust was also very weak and sugary. Not sure when the second skier went farther out and triggered the whole bowl, but they got lucky!!" Photo: T. Andersen

  • Small skier triggered loose dry avalanche observed on a south-facing slope at about 9000' on the ridge separating Beehive and Middle basins. Photo: C. Oshiro-Leavitt

  • These natural avalanches likely occurred on Saturday, January 11. New snow and wind loaded slopes and we saw other slides as we rode around. Photo: GNFAC

  • This natural avalanche in 3rd Yellowmule on Buck Ridge likely occurred on Saturday, January 11. It was a wind loaded and very steep slope. It broke on facets near the ground and was big enough to bury a person (D2). The size was 2-3' deep, 200' wide and 75' vertical. Photo: GNFAC

  • This natural avalanche in 3rd Yellowmule on Buck Ridge likely occurred on Saturday, January 11. It was a wind loaded and very steep slope. It broke on facets near the ground and was big enough to bury a person (D2). The size was 2-3' deep, 200' wide and 75' vertical. Photo: GNFAC

  • Yellowstone Club Ski Patrol triggered a slide with explosives breaking at the ground during avalanche mitigation work on Friday, 1/10/2020.

    From Yellowstone Club Patrol: "It’s a NE facing slope at 8500’ ... got an avalanche to release on an old layer of well defined surface hoar (perhaps from mid-December). In some areas it stepped to ground. The crown was 2-4’ deep and the avalanche was recorded as R3/D2. The avalanche slid to the bottom of the runout and placed 3-12’ of snow in the road and completely blocked the road. This was a relatively large slide for this particular path this early in the season."

    Photo: YC Patrol

  • Small windslab on the apron of the Buttcrack Chute in Middle Basin. Likely broke 1/9 or morning of 1/10/2020. Photo: B. Gill

  • Natural avalanche observed just west of McAtee Basin, near Buck Ridge. Likely broke on 1/9/2019 or morning of 1/10/2019. Photo: J. Gerard

  • February 1, King and Queen of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl (fundraiser). This is the Friends of the Avalanche Center’s second biggest fundraiser of the year. Come on out and help us raise money by hiking and skiing laps on the ridge. Prizes, camaraderie and a good time is guaranteed. Register with Bridger to hike in the event, and create a pledge page to raise funds with your Ridge laps.

  • Photo: J. Bales

  • Large cornice collapse in Middle Basin. The cornice broke 10' back from the edge, 6-7' deep, and ran 800-1000' vertical. The collapse was triggered by a dog in another party. Photo: GNFAC

  • Large cornice collapse in Middle Basin. The cornice broke 10' back from the edge, 6-7' deep, and ran 800-1000' vertical. The collapse was triggered by a dog in another party. Photo: GNFAC

  • Large cornice collapse in Middle Basin. The cornice broke 10' back from the edge, 6-7' deep, and ran 800-1000' vertical. The collapse was triggered by a dog in another party. Photo: GNFAC

  • We visited the avalanche that was triggered by a snowmobiler and partially buried 2 people on January 4th. The crown was 10 feet at the deepest part. Photo: GNFAC

  • We visited the avalanche that was triggered by a snowmobiler and partially buried 2 people on January 4th. The crown was 10 feet at the deepest part. Photo: GNFAC

  • We visited the avalanche that was triggered by a snowmobiler and partially buried 2 people on January 4th. The crown was 10 feet at the deepest part. Photo: GNFAC

  • Photo: Carter Olson

  • Snowmobile buried in debris of a slide that was triggered by a rider and caught two others who were on their sleds below. See link below for more details. Photo: Carter Olson

  • Photo: Quinn

  • Triggered during control work on 1/4/2020. Photo: BSSP

  • Triggered during control work on 1/4/2020. Photo: BSSP

  • Snowmobilers triggered this slide in the 3rd Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on Saturday (1/4/20).

  •  @carter.olson

  • From one of the riders that was caught, "The 3 persons involved were traveling across the slope about 20-30 yards up from the tree line parallel to the ridge line in the slide area when it broke, not high marking and not traveling uphill. One rider did increase his elevation while traveling across the slope but was never more than 1/4 of the way up when the slide was triggered."

  • This slide was triggered by Bridger Bowl ski patrol during control work on Saturday (1/4/2020). It shows deeply buried persistent weak layers from early October and November were pushed to a breaking point by the recent snow and wind. A person can trigger avalanches like this on heavily wind loaded slopes in the backcountry. Additionally, shallower large avalanches can be triggered on any steep slope. Photo: BBSP

  • A natural avalanche crown was seen on Yellow Mountain near Big Sky on Saturday morning (1/4/20). Photo: A. Schauer

  • A party of three skiers remote triggered avalanche with at least 6' crown off N face of Mt Porphry along rockband near summit on 12/29/19. They triggered it after tyhey had found "Three pits dug on NE face ascending Mt Porphry indicating increasing stability and no clean propagation. Approx 150-210 cm deep snowpack." Photo: G. Alsentzer

  • From e-mail: "Toured in Beehive today. Good snow but very windy. Pics show a large avalanche in the area where “Going Home” ends. Lighting was difficult so not that clear. There was a smaller slide just to the right of the picture and one chute from the end of “Going Home”.

    The slide pictures took out some small trees. I was surprised how far into the low angle the debris ran.

    Hard to know if this was skier triggered but there were one set of tracks coming down Going Home." Photo: A. Crawford

  • From e-mail: "Toured in Beehive today. Good snow but very windy. Pics show a large avalanche in the area where “Going Home” ends. Lighting was difficult so not that clear. There was a smaller slide just to the right of the picture and one chute from the end of “Going Home”.

    The slide pictures took out some small trees. I was surprised how far into the low angle the debris ran.

    Hard to know if this was skier triggered but there were one set of tracks coming down Going Home." Photo: A. Crawford

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Golf Course

Yellowstone Club, Timberline Chair

Weather Forecast Northern Madison

Extended Forecast for

5 Miles NNW Big Sky MT

  • Tonight

    Tonight: Snow, mainly before 5am.  Patchy blowing snow. Low around 12. Wind chill values as low as -1. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 16 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Snow and
    Patchy
    Blowing Snow

    Low: 12 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A chance of snow before 10am, then a chance of snow after 3pm.  Patchy blowing snow. Partly sunny, with a steady temperature around 15. Wind chill values as low as -5. Breezy, with a west wind 16 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow
    and Patchy
    Blowing Snow

    High: 15 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: Snow likely, mainly between 1am and 3am.  Areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. Wind chill values as low as -4. West southwest wind 17 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Snow Likely
    and Areas
    Blowing Snow

    Low: 14 °F

  • Thursday

    Thursday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 24. Southwest wind 15 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 24 °F

  • Thursday
    Night

    Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. South southwest wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 21 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: A 30 percent chance of snow after 11am.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 26. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 26 °F

  • Friday
    Night

    Friday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly before 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 19. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 19 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: A slight chance of snow.  Partly sunny, with a high near 26.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    High: 26 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow after 11pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 19.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: 19 °F

The Last Word

In the last week, there were five avalanche fatalities in the U.S., in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, California, and Colorado. This season there have been 12 avalanche fatalities (More info). We are deeply saddened by each of these events. The snowpack throughout the western U.S. buried weak layers that have been overloaded by storms since the start of 2020. Ride safe.