Regional Conditions for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
Today2″ | NA
Apr 1 8″ | N/A
Mar 31 8″ | N/A
8775′     3/27 at 10:00
17 ℉
SE - 4 mph
Gusts 7 mph
7750′   04/02 at 9:00
14℉
74″ Depth
Bottom Line: A large storm ended yesterday morning which dropped 14-20” of new snow. This created instability throughout our forecast area. Yesterday, avalanches released naturally and a few were human triggered. All this activity occurred in the upper 2-3 feet of the snowpack on a weak interface of either an ice crust, feathery surface hoar, or small-grained facets. It really doesn’t matter which since they are all a similar depth and unstable. There is still a strong possibility of triggering slides, most notably on wind-loaded slopes or steep terrain that has not sluffed. Cracking, collapsing and recent avalanche activity are bulls-eye information to avoid a slope.

Past 5 Days

Sun Mar 29

Moderate
Mon Mar 30

Moderate
Tue Mar 31

Considerable
Wed Apr 1

Considerable
Today

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
  • 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

  • "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

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Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

  • Today

    Today: A 50 percent chance of snow.  Mostly sunny, with a high near 17. Wind chill values as low as -5. North wind 10 to 13 mph.  Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    High: 17 °F

  • Tonight

    Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 7. Wind chill values as low as -10. West northwest wind 9 to 14 mph becoming south southwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

    Partly Cloudy

    Low: 7 °F

  • Friday

    Friday: A 40 percent chance of snow after noon.  Partly sunny, with a high near 24. Wind chill values as low as -10. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 11 to 16 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 32 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Partly Sunny
    then Chance
    Snow and
    Breezy

    High: 24 °F

  • Friday
    Night

    Friday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. Wind chill values as low as zero. South southwest wind 16 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.  New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 14 °F

  • Saturday

    Saturday: A 30 percent chance of snow.  Partly sunny, with a high near 28. South southwest wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.  Little or no snow accumulation expected.

    Chance Snow

    High: 28 °F

  • Saturday
    Night

    Saturday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 18. Southeast wind 13 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.  New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

    Mostly Cloudy
    then Chance
    Snow

    Low: 18 °F

  • Sunday

    Sunday: Snow likely, mainly before noon.  Cloudy, with a high near 30. South wind 15 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Snow Likely

    High: 30 °F

  • Sunday
    Night

    Sunday Night: A chance of snow, mainly after midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 22. South wind 13 to 15 mph becoming east southeast after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph.

    Chance Snow

    Low: 22 °F

  • Monday

    Monday: Snow likely before noon, then snow showers likely after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  Cloudy, with a high near 32.

    Snow Likely

    High: 32 °F

The Last Word

A backcountry skier was caught and injured in an avalanche in Colorado on Tuesday, 3/31. Details are here. This incident is on the heels of another avalanche on 3/24 that caught, partially buried and injured a snowboarder (details here). Backcountry rescues are risky in the best of times. With COVID-19 running amok, rescuers are also at risk to exposing each other to the virus. Be smart, be safe and think of others.