Regional Conditions for Northern Madison

as of 5:00 am
Today1″ | 10-20 W
Dec 14 1″ | 10-15 W
Dec 13 3″ | 20-45 W
9400′     12/15 at 7:00
5 ℉
SW - 8 mph, Gusts 12
2 " New
8880′   12/15 at 8:00
10℉
28″ Depth
Bottom Line: Buried weak layers create an unstable snowpack and make large avalanches easy to trigger. Over the last week we found a poor snowpack structure (weak sugary facets are the foundation of the snowpack) accompanied by signs of instability in Taylor Fork, Lionhead and Buck Ridge. Large avalanches can be triggered from low angle terrain adjacent to steep slopes. Avoid riding on and underneath steep slopes.
Avalanche Concern: Persistent Weak Layer

Past 5 Days

Wed Dec 11

Considerable
Thu Dec 12

Considerable
Fri Dec 13

Considerable
Sat Dec 14

Considerable
Today

Considerable

Avalanche Activity- Northern Madison

Northern Madison
Buck Ridge
Slat Creek - 2nd Hand Report
Buck Ridge
U-AM
Coordinates: 45.1719, -111.3800
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

While teaching up at Second Yellowmule we received a secondhand report of riders in the Slat Creek area triggering 4 avalanches. It sounds like no one was caught, injured, or buried. 


More Avalanche Details
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
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- Northern Madison

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

  • 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

  • On Friday (12/13) we rode into Taylor Fork and found a weak foundation of the snowpack, Recent snow has created unstable conditions. Our stability tests showed unstable results on two weak layers. Photo: GNFAC

  • Natural avalanches were reported on Buck Ridge on 12/8. They likely broke on recently buried surface hoar. photo: @gslo87

  • 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

  • From obs.: "Dug a pit just over the ridge from Beehive Basin into Middle Basin on a part of the slope that was less wind-affected than the rest. Performed an ECT and got a result of ECTP-24. The failure occurred on what appeared to be the same layer that was observed at Buck Ridge earlier this week - a thin layer of facets underneath a fairly solid crust (found approximately 30 cm from the surface). Given this observation, we decided to take it easy and ski some low angle meadows down into bear basin." Photo: E. Telford

  • We sledded into Buck Ridge (12/4/2019) for the first time this season. The riding was supportable and soft, but we sank to the ground when we stepped off our sleds. This poor snowpack structure makes avalanches possible to trigger, and will create bad avalanche conditions when more snow loads on top. Enjoy the powder in low angle terrain. Photo: GNFAC

  • The Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol triggered this slide on a heavily wind-loaded east facing slope at the ridgeline. They wrote, "With a shovel push the vertical cornice/pillow broke 15''-36'' deep on a steep and rounded bulge just south of Lee's Leap running on the crust. The debris terminated well below Pat's Chute." Its code is HS-AC-R2-D2-O-TR. Photo: BBSP
  • This large avalanche was triggered intentionally by the Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol at the ridgeline above little Slushman's Ravine. They were cutting a cornice and it broke 7 feet back from the edge, 4 feet deep and 150 feet wide. It was a hard slab avalanche and ran 1150 feet. It was east facing and broke on a crust formed in the early season. It's code is HS-AC-R2-D3-O-TL. Photo: BBSP

  • 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

  • This avalanche of wind-drifted snow was triggered with a ski cut on a southeast aspect at 9,800'. Photo: T. Chingas

  • This slide was triggered up Hyalite from 100' away. It was a wind loaded slope at 9,000', northeast aspect. Photo: T. Chingas

  • From an observation:

    When approaching the base of Mt. Blackmore this morning at roughly 8:45 am we observed strong swirling winds at higher elevations (summit of Blackmore and the Elephant/Blackmore Saddle). The winds we observed were primarily loading snow onto E and SE facing aspects. Furthermore, we witnessed four naturally triggered avalanches over a twenty minute span. All slides appeared to be D1/D2 on E and SE aspects and, seemingly, restricted to the newly loaded snow. Photo: SAM

  • This natural avalanche released on Saddle Peak. wind loading from west winds created sensitive wind slabs this morning. Photo: S. Jonas

  • Skiers found reactive wind slabs near the ridge line that easily avalanched. Photo: S. Jonas

  • From obs.: "New snow from 24 hours ago blew around the ridge tops from 11pm last night until 7am this morning ~30mph. This soft 4 finger slab was about 6”-7” deep and broke on a convex roll.... We were assessing the terrain carefully and expected this result." Photo: R. Christian-Frederick

  • We triggered this dry loose avalanche on a west facing slope in Beehive Basin on 11/30. 3-5" of recent snow easily slid on top of a crust. Photo: GNFAC

  • Dry loose snow avalanches were easy to trigger on Saturday 11/30 in Beehive Basin. Photo: GNFAC

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

  • Strong winds found snow to transport on Saturday 11/23. Photo: B. VandenBos

  • Large surface hoar in Hyalite on 11/23. Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • Shooting cracks in Hyalite at ~9500 ft on a N aspect on 11/23. 

    From obs "We got some large shooting cracks while skinning and ended up turning around." Photo: C. Kussmaul

  • 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.

  • Toured up to the ridge at Bridger today and traversed into Bridger Gully. At around 8,000' in the trees above the most prominent snowfield, my partner and I observed very small dry sluffs confined to the new snow.  Bellow Bridger Gully, my partner was able to release a slide while traversing through rocks above his intended line. This was on an east-southeast aspect at 7,500'. Photo: Cole Oshiro-Leavitt

  • On Thursday 11/21 skiers at Bridger noted: "...some activity (D1-D2) isolated to the new snow around rock features and ridgetops that were wind-affected..." Photo: G. Antonioli

  • On Thursday 11/21 skiers at Bridger noted: "...some activity (D1-D2) isolated to the new snow around rock features and ridgetops that were wind-affected..." Photo: G. Antonioli

  • From obs.: "I went skiing at Bridger today,... There was 4-5” of new snow, which was sitting on a firm surface. The wind had done some work, and I was able to break off a few shallow (6”) wind slabs in the first 100 feet or so off the ridge." Photo: A. Schauer

  • A skier on Saturday (11/16) took the time to dig a quick pit about 200' below east ridge of Mt Blackmore. He found about 2.5 feet of snow with a few crust layers. Photo: K. Stewart

  • This wet loose avalanche was on a west-southwest aspect in Beehive Basin. It broke to the ground (only 30 cm deep) but shows how a few hours of sun with above freezing temperatures can create wet slides, even in November! Photo: McKinley Talty

  • These feathery surface hoar crystals were buried under 5" of snow last night up Hyalite. These weak grains may become a problem with additional load. Phoro: B. VandenBos

  • "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

  • From obs.: "A widespread rain crust left the whole [Beehive] basin glazed like a Krispy Kreme donut to ~1000'. The consistently breakable crust thinned with elevation yet ensured lack-luster skiing conditions throughout the entire basin. Light winds [and] increasing cloud cover... worked together to keep solar input at bay and minimized the break-down or softening of the surface crust. Noted 2 small (D.5 - R1) old natural WL avalanches on due south aspects at ~10,100' probably triggered from cliff bands during the warm up last week...." Photo: Zachary Miller

  • 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

WebCams


8800 Camera, Lone Peak view

Golf Course

Yellowstone Club, Timberline Chair

Weather Forecast Northern Madison

Extended Forecast for

5 Miles NNW Big Sky MT

  • Today

    Today: A 20 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 11. Wind chill values as low as -12. West wind 14 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

    Slight Chance
    Snow

    High: 11 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A slight chance of snow between 8pm and 9pm.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 1. Wind chill values as low as -17. Southwest wind 15 to 18 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 20%.

    Slight Chance
    Snow then
    Mostly Cloudy

    Low: 1 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny and cold, with a high near 9. Wind chill values as low as -17. Southwest wind 16 to 21 mph.

    Cold

    High: 9 °F

  • Monday
    Night

    Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 1. Wind chill values as low as -17. South wind 18 to 20 mph.

    Mostly Clear

    Low: 1 °F

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 15. Breezy, with a south wind 18 to 23 mph.

    Sunny and
    Breezy

    High: 15 °F

  • Tuesday
    Night

    Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 8. Breezy.

    Partly Cloudy
    and Breezy

    Low: 8 °F

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 20. Breezy.

    Partly Sunny
    and Breezy

    High: 20 °F

  • Wednesday
    Night

    Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9. Breezy.

    Mostly Cloudy
    and Breezy
    then Mostly
    Cloudy

    Low: 9 °F

  • Thursday

    Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 18. Breezy.

    Partly Sunny
    and Breezy

    High: 18 °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.