Good morning. This is Alex Marienthal with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast issued on Monday, January 28th at 7:00 a.m. Today’s forecast is sponsored by Knoff Group Real Estate and Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association. This forecast does not apply to operating ski areas.
Last night a cold front entered the region with west-northwest wind at 20-35 mph and gusts of 50-70 mph. This morning, temperatures are single digits F and wind is northerly at 10-20 mph. Overnight the mountains got 2-3” of low density snow with 5-8” in Hyalite. Today will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the single digits to low teens F and wind out of the north-northwest at 10-20 mph. Late Wednesday is the next chance for light snow.
Yesterday was the tenth day in a row with reports of natural or human triggered avalanches. More than sixteen natural and human triggered slides were reported on Saturday and Sunday (avalanche activity). Sadly, on Friday a skier was killed in an avalanche in the Tobacco Roots (details and photos). Doug and I visited the site during the rescue and will have a detailed report available shortly. On Saturday, two skiers triggered separate avalanches in the Bridger Range. One skier was caught and fully buried during the slide, but ended up on top of the debris (details). The other was not caught (details).
Yesterday, skiers on Mt. Ellis unintentionally triggered a large avalanche while skinning through tight trees. They were not caught, but too close for comfort. They had experienced several “pop and drop” collapses on the way in and decided to avoid open, steep slopes. The avalanche was 2’ deep, 100’ wide and ran 500’ through deadly, high consequence terrain (photos and details). Karl was there the day before and found very unstable conditions (video). This is the third avalanche this weekend that broke and ran through dense trees (details), including the fatal slide on Friday. There have also been multiple reports of slides on lower angle avalanche terrain, just over 30 degrees steep (details). Large avalanches breaking on lower angle and treed terrain indicate very dangerous and unstable conditions. Many of these slopes we often see as safe, but can actually be deadly.
If you travelled in the backcountry this weekend you probably experienced collapsing, got unstable test results, or saw an avalanche. Ian and his partner were at Taylor Fork yesterday and triggered an avalanche from flat terrain above (video, photo). Avalanche Danger has been considerable for the past week meaning natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches likely. Either or both types were reported every day. While avalanche danger and likelihood of avalanches has stayed constant, the size and consequences of avalanches has increased. Getting caught in an avalanche today will be unforgiving.
Before you go to the backcountry do your homework. Carefully plan safe routes through low angle terrain, along ridgelines and far away from the bottom of steep slopes. View our videos, photos, and avalanche activity pages for a more thorough understanding of the snowpack. Today large and dangerous avalanches are easy to trigger and could break naturally. Avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE.
Avalanche Fatality Tobacco Root Mountains
On Friday four skiers were caught in an avalanche while ascending a steep forested slope in the Tobacco Root Mountains. Two skiers grabbed trees and were able to self-arrest, the other two skiers were swept downhill. One skier was seriously injured, the other died from trauma. Doug and Alex visited the site and we will issue more information once it becomes available. Our deepest condolences go to the family and friends of the victim. Preliminary details and photos.
King and Queen of the Ridge
Next Saturday, February 2, at Bridger Bowl. This is the Friends of the Avalanche Center’s second biggest fundraiser of the year. Come on out and help us raise some money by hiking and skiing some 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.
Upcoming Avalanche Education and Events
Our education calendar is full of awareness lectures and field courses. Check it out: Events and Education Calendar.
February 6, 1-hr Women’s Avalanche Awareness, 6-7p.m. at REI Bozeman.
February 8 and 9, Companion Rescue Clinic, 6-8 p.m. Friday at REI, 10-4 Saturday in the field. More Info and Register.
February 9 and 16, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness for Snowmobilers, 7-8 p.m. Holiday Inn West Yellowstone.
January 31, Intro to Avalanches w/ Field Day, Info and Register Here.
January 31-February 2, Intro to Avalanches w/ Field Day, Info and Register Here.
February 13, 1-hr Avalanche Awareness, 6-7 p.m. at Carroll College.
Every Friday and Saturday, Rescue Training and Snowpack Update. Friday 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Soda Butte Lodge. Saturday anytime between 10-2 @ Round Lake.
In the U.S. there have been 6 avalanche fatalities in the last 10 days and 11 in the last month. The snowpack is begging us to be patient and choose conservative objectives for our backcountry tours. Be patient on the bigger lines and choose conservative objectives for your backcountry adventures. #lowanglepow