Regional Conditions for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
Today1″ | N/A
Mar 28 0″ | NA
Mar 27 0″ | 15-25 W
8775′     3/27 at 10:00
17 ℉
SE - 4 mph
Gusts 7 mph
7750′   03/29 at 4:00
27℉
64″ Depth
Bottom Line: Avalanches can break today on weak layers buried 1-2 ft deep underneath this week’s snow. These weak layers have been found across southwest Montana and we’ve seen a quite a few avalanches breaking on them. Use an Extended Column Test to look for and test the weak layer before getting onto a steep slope. The more deeply these weak layers are buried, the more problematic they will be, which means that wind-loaded slopes remain more worrisome than other slopes.

Past 5 Days

Tue Mar 24

Moderate
Wed Mar 25

Moderate
Thu Mar 26

Moderate
Fri Mar 27

Considerable
Sat Mar 28

Moderate

Avalanche Activity- Lionhead Range

Northern Gallatin
Mt Blackmore
Human Triggered Soft Slab Avalanches - Mt Blackmore
Incident details include images
Mt Blackmore
SS-ASc-R1-D1-S
Elevation: 10,000
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.4444, -111.0040
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

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. 


More Avalanche Details
Northern Madison
Wilson Peak
Skier triggered wind slab on Wilson Peak
Incident details include images
Wilson Peak
SS-ASu-R2-D1.5-I
Elevation: 10,100
Aspect: N
Coordinates: 45.3270, -111.3250
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

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


More Avalanche Details
Cooke City
Lulu Pass
Snowmobiler triggred slide near Lulu Pass, Cooke City
Incident details include images
Lulu Pass
AMu-I
Coordinates: 45.0709, -109.9580
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

Doug talked on the phone with a snowmobiler who triggered a slide outside Cooke City today (3/15/2020). The details:

  • It occurred somewhere between Round Lake and Lulu Pass, likely nearer to Lulu.
  • It was snowing hard most of the day and they had poor visibility.
  • The slide was triggered by 1 sledder. He was not caught.
  • The avalanche broke 1 foot deep and 100 feet wide. It was believed to be new snow, but not wind-loaded.

More Avalanche Details

Photos- Lionhead Range

Displaying 1 - 40
  • 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

  • "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

  • On private property, this small child triggered a slide and climbed out of the debris, not buried. A very close call! On the heels of this large snowstorm there are possibilities of children getting caught on road cuts or any open hill!  Photo: Anonymous

  • We triggered this avalanche in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020 It is on a small roll/cornice "in the flats". It broke within the current 2-3' storm snow. Photo: GNFAC

  • A snowmobiler triggered this avalanche in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020 It is on a small roll/cornice "in the flats". It broke within the current 2-3' storm snow. Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw this natural crown that broke within the current 2-3' storm on a small terrain feature. It is in the second Yellow Mule off Buck Ridge on 2/6/2020. Photo: GNFAC

  • I took out my binoculars from our cabin on the west shore of Island Park Reservoir and noticed this huge slide in the bowl south of Reas peak. Started at the little tree band below the ridge, takes out 1/3 of the bowl, and runs into the Blue Creek terrain trap. I assume this is a natural avalanche as I don’t see tracks (hard to see in this light). Photo: M Elstad
  • I took out my binoculars from our cabin on the west shore of Island Park Reservoir and noticed this huge slide in the bowl south of Reas peak. Started at the little tree band below the ridge, takes out 1/3 of the bowl, and runs into the Blue Creek terrain trap. I assume this is a natural as I don’t see tracks (hard to see in this light). Photo: M Elstad
  • Hebgen/West Yellowstone snow rangers and Montana State Parks installed this beacon checker at the trail into Lionhead Ridge. It is a great asset to promote avalanche awareness in our area. Photo: J. Norlander

Videos- Lionhead Range

WebCams

Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

  • Overnight

    Overnight: A 20 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. South southwest wind around 11 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    Low: 14 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: A 30 percent chance of snow, mainly between 9am and 10am.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. South southwest wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 29 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow, mainly after 10pm.  Patchy blowing snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 20. South southwest wind 15 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Chance Snow
    and Patchy
    Blowing Snow

    Low: 20 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Patchy blowing snow after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 14 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

    Chance Snow
    and Patchy
    Blowing Snow

    High: 29 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times.  Areas of blowing snow. Low around 19. Breezy, with a south southwest wind around 24 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

    Heavy Snow
    and Areas
    Blowing Snow

    Low: 19 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Snow.  High near 24. Breezy, with a west southwest wind around 22 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

    Snow and
    Breezy

    High: 24 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: A 40 percent chance of snow, mainly before midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. West southwest wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.  New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 13 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 21. Southwest wind 10 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

    Chance Snow

    High: 21 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: A chance of snow, mainly before midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 8 °F

The Last Word

This article in Powder Magazine about backcountry skiing during the COVID-19 pandemic is worth a read.

The Gallatin County Health Department and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services websites have up-to-date information on all things Coronavirus related.