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Old 12-15-2009, 08:50 AM
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Good Morning. This is Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory issued on Tuesday, December 15 at 7:30 a.m. ProLite Gear, in cooperation with the Friends of the Avalanche Center, sponsor today's advisory. This advisory does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather:

Yesterday, scattered showers dropped 1-2 inches in the southern mountains and a trace to 1 inch in the north. Westerly winds were strong at 20-30 mph and are getting even stronger as the arctic front finally leaves. Everyone in the northern areas was held hostage to this frigid air, but now we're free to warm up and stretch our legs. Currently, mountain temperatures are 14F, 10-15 degrees warmer than the past few days. For the next 24 hours winds are expected to blow west to southwest at 20-40 mph. Snowfall will be limited to the southern mountains with 1-2 inches falling around West Yellowstone and 2-4 inches outside Cooke City.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:

The southern Gallatin and southern Madison Ranges, the Lionhead Area near West Yellowstone, the mountains outside Cooke City and the Washburn Range:

We issued an Avalanche Warning on Sunday and Monday for the southern mountains. The snowpack is weak and the 16-24 inches of snow made the backcountry unstable. Yesterday, Karl Birkeland and I went to the worst of the areas, Lionhead, to see how bad it was. Many slopes steeper than 35 degrees slid early in the storm without much snow load. We could see 1 foot deep crowns and soft slab debris on the slopes. The snowpack consists of two feet of faceted, sugary grains to the ground with the new snow capping it. We had widespread collapsing and cracking and our stability tests took little force to propagate a fracture. These are all signs of unstable, dangerous conditions. We stayed on terrain less than 30 degrees and were hyper conscious about getting underneath anything steep. These are the conditions where someone could trigger an avalanche from the bottom of a slope. Stay clear of runout zones. We took a few pictures and made a video clip showing these instabilities.

Video clip of stability tests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfwsXnndHeM

Three photos from Lionhead: http://www.mtavalanche.com/photo

In Lionhead the facets reach the ground and the snowpack isn't supportable. Fat skis are mandatory to float, and the sugary snow is so deep that I actually got face shots of facets as I snowmobiled down a hill-a first. Around Cooke City and further north the snow is more supportable, but an 8 inch layer of large, weak, and now unstable facets are underneath all this new snow. Facets are like Kryponite--they rob the snowpack of its strength. For today, the avalanche danger is rated HIGH on all wind-loaded slopes and any terrain steeper than 35 degrees. All other slopes have a CONSIDERABLE danger.

The Bridger, northern Gallatin and northern Madison Ranges:

There's a common theme with all the snowpacks in our advisory region-facets. Some areas have layers a few feet thick while others are only inches wide. No matter. They're directly under the windblown slabs and new snow. In the northern mountains they have gotten weaker with the cold temperatures. Over the weekend skiers triggered a slide near Mt. Blackmore and also in Beehive/Middle Basins. Climbers triggered slides up Hyalite and yesterday the ski patrols at Big Sky got widespread collapsing and cracking at treeline while Moonlight Basin reported a few small natural slides. Traveling and making good, smart, correct decisions regarding the snowpack is difficult right now. Facets scare me and they've been doing nothing but get weaker over the last few weeks-a trend I'm not happy with. Be conservative and second guess yourself before dropping into serious terrain. For today, the avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE on all slopes.

Mark will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call or email with your observations. You can reach us at 587-6984 or email us at mtavalanche@gmail.com.

HYALITE ACCIDENT REPORT

We posted the accident report on the avalanche that killed Guy Lacelle in Hyalite Canyon on Thursday. You can read it out on our Accidents page at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/accident/09/12/13

TWEET TWEET: STAY IN THE LOOP

We're using Twitter to update folks at all hours on the snowpack, avalanches, accidents and other worthy topics. Check out our tweets at http://www.mtavalanche.com/twitter or http://twitter.com/avalancheguys.

AVALANCHE EDUCATION

1. BOZEMAN: TONIGHT at 7pm there will be a FREE one hour Avalanche Awareness Lecture at the Bozeman Public Library.

2. WEST YELLOWSTONE: TWO DAY GUIDES COURSE. On Thursday, December 17, (noon-5pm) at the Holiday Inn is an afternoon of avalanche lectures. Friday, December 18, will be in the field. Registration is NOT required. More info at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/education...s/snowmobilers

3. BOZEMAN: Montana Outdoor Science School is offering a Level 1 Avalanche Course January 7-10. For more information, contact Moss at 406-582-0526.



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Old 12-16-2009, 08:58 AM
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Good Morning. This is Mark Staples with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory issued on Wednesday, December 16 at 7:30 a.m. The Dance Center, in cooperation with the Friends of the Avalanche Center, sponsor today's advisory. This advisory does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather:

Since yesterday morning the mountains near Cooke City received an additional 5 inches of snow, the mountains near West Yellowstone and the southern Madison Range received 2-4 inches, and the mountains near Big Sky received 2 inches while the Bridger Range remained dry. With this snow came strong SW winds blowing 20-30 mph. This morning at 4 a.m. winds have calmed to 10-20 mph with temperatures ranging from the high teens to low 20s F.

Today a moist southwesterly flow will bring more snow and 15-20 mph SW winds with temperatures in the mid 20s F. Mountains near Cooke City will receive 3-5 inches, West Yellowstone and Big Sky 2-3 inches, and the mountains near Bozeman will get about 1 inch of new snow.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:

The southern Gallatin and southern Madison Ranges, the Lionhead Area near West Yellowstone, the mountains outside Cooke City and the Washburn Range:

Heavy snowfall on Sunday and Monday in the southern mountains including those near West Yellowstone and Cooke City combined with a weak snowpack prompted an Avalanche Warning on those days. Prior to that snowfall I experienced collapsing and cracking of the snowpack and even triggered an avalanche in the Taylor Fork drainage. On Monday Doug and Karl went to Lionhead where they observed similar conditions: widespread collapsing and cracking and numerous natural avalanches. Continued snowfall and strong SW winds have kept the snowpack near its breaking point with natural and human triggered avalanches likely on any wind loaded slope. Fractures will propagate over long distances, and avalanches can be triggered from low angle terrain in avalanche runout zones. Avoid riding under any slope steeper than 30 degrees. See a video clip of stability tests at Lionhead at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfwsXnndHeM , and photos of recent snow and signs of instability at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/photo

With more snow today, the avalanche danger is rated HIGH on any slope with wind deposited snow or any slope steeper than 35 degrees. All other slopes have a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger.

The Bridger, northern Gallatin and northern Madison Ranges:

The snowpack in the mountains near Big Sky and Bozeman is hardly stronger than it is in the southern mountains but less stressed with less new snow. Wind loaded slopes are the exception and local ski patrols continue to trigger recently formed wind slabs. Yesterday the Big Sky Ski Patrol triggered one well below treeline breaking 1½ - 2 ft deep. In some areas the snowpack is unsupportable and highly faceted. In other areas it is more supportable but contains a layer of facets found just under snow from the past week and a half. In either case this faceted snow has been sensitive to the weight of human triggers producing many avalanches.

Without significant loading from new snow, signs of instability may not be obvious. Ask yourself: Are you looking for signs of unstable snow or stable snow? You can find either and justify poor decisions. A skier caught in an avalanche near Mt Blackmore saw all the right clues of unstable conditions but ignored them and attributed his decisions to the all the complications of being human. Fortunately he wasn't wearing his ski pole straps, and with some quick thinking he was able to dig into the bed surface and avoid being strained through trees. Today the avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE on all wind loaded slopes. Human triggered avalanches are definitely possible on slopes without wind deposited snow where a MODERATE avalanche danger exists.

Eric will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call or email with your observations. You can reach us at 587-6984 or email us at mtavalanche@gmail.com.

HYALITE ACCIDENT REPORT

We posted the accident report on the avalanche that killed Guy Lacelle in Hyalite Canyon on Thursday. You can read it out on our Accidents page at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/accident/09/12/13

TWEET TWEET: STAY IN THE LOOP

We're using Twitter to update folks at all hours on the snowpack, avalanches, accidents and other worthy topics. Check out our tweets at http://www.mtavalanche.com/twitter or http://twitter.com/avalancheguys.

AVALANCHE EDUCATION

1. WEST YELLOWSTONE: TWO DAY GUIDES COURSE. On Thursday, December 17, (noon-5pm) at the Holiday Inn is an afternoon of avalanche lectures. Friday, December 18, will be in the field. Registration is NOT required. More info at: http://www.mtavalanche.com/education...s/snowmobilers

2. BOZEMAN: Montana Outdoor Science School is offering a Level 1 Avalanche Course January 7-10. For more information, contact Moss at 406-582-0526.

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Old 02-02-2010, 11:03 AM
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Good Morning. This is Doug Chabot with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory issued on Tuesday, February 2, at 7:30 a.m. Montana Ale Works, in cooperation with the Friends of the Avalanche Center, sponsor today's advisory. This advisory does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather:


Only remnant flurries fell after yesterday's early morning storm. Temperatures reached the 20s and ridgetop winds blew 15-20 mph from the west-southwest. Today will be mostly cloudy with mountain temperatures again reaching the mid 20s before dropping to the low teens tonight. Ridgetop winds will continue to be west-southwest at 15-20 mph. A few bands of moisture may drop a dusting of snow, but it won't be enough to really care about.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:


The Madison Range, southern Gallatin Range and the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone:

It's always better to be the hunter than the hunted. On Monday Eric and I went hunting for instability and we found it. We skied and dug pits in the southern Madison Range near Hebgen Lake and got clean shears on a buried surface hoar layer two feet down (video). This layer is visible as a stripe in the snowpit wall. Our tests also fractured on the large sugary grains near the ground, so pick your poison. Both these layers were the reason we skied low angled terrain. A snowmobiler on Sunday triggered a slide on one of these layers only a couple miles to the south of us. Last Thursday a snowmobiler triggered a small slide in Carrot Basin a few miles to the north. This activity, plus our poor stability tests indicate a persistent problem.

The 5-7 inches of new snow that fell in the wee hours Monday morning improved the riding and skiing without spiking the avalanche danger. All the ski patrols in the Lone Mountain vicinity got easy ski cuts on wind-loaded slopes. In the last 24 hours winds have been light and the new snow seems to have bonded well to the old surface. Our main avalanche concern continues to be the buried faceted snow near the ground and/or the surface hoar which is found in the southern ranges. Given these conditions, the avalanche danger is rated CONSIDERABLE on all slopes steeper than 35 degrees. Less steep slopes will have a MODERATE danger.

Be aggressive in your search for instability. Don't become the hunted.

The Bridger and northern Gallatin Ranges, mountains around Cooke City and the Washburn Range:

In the Bridger Range 8-10 inches of denser, 7.5% snow skied well and stayed put. Other than easy ski cuts on some wind-loaded slopes near the ridgelines, the new snow did not avalanche yesterday. The snowpack in the northern mountains still has lingering instabilities on weak, faceted snow near the ground. A snowmobiler on Thursday triggered a slide north of Ross Pass on this layer, but overall these slopes are becoming harder to find. A skier touring far and wide in Hyalite on Sunday found these facets on a few slopes and was conscious of being "lulled by a supportable slab and enticing skiing conditions." Snow Rangers in Cooke City found 5-6 inches of light, dry snow yesterday. They dug a snowpit below Mount Abundance, very near a pit they dug on Jan 20. Besides a deeper snowpack, their stability tests showed good strengthening --easy fractures 12 days prior were not breaking. But let's not forget that faceted snow near the ground which formed at the beginning of December still avalanched as recently as five days ago. Strengthening is a slow, tedious process. For today, the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE on all slopes.

I will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you get out in the backcountry let us know what you find. You can reach us at 587-6984 or email us at mtavalanche@gmail.com.
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Old 03-01-2010, 12:25 PM
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Good Morning. This is Eric Knoff with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Advisory issued on Monday, March 1, at 7:30 a.m. Gallatin County Search and Rescue, in cooperation with the Friends of the Avalanche Center, sponsor today's advisory. This advisory does not apply to operating ski areas.

Mountain Weather:
A strong ridge of high pressure has parked over southwest Montana and put the e-brake on, eliminating any chance of precipitation. Temperatures have been spring like over the past 24 hours, with above average highs in the 40's F and lows in the 20's F. Light winds out of the S-SW at 5-10 mph were actually welcomed to help offset the warm temperatures in the upper elevations. Today will be even warmer than yesterday with highs reaching almost 50 degrees F and lows barely dropping below freezing. Winds will remain light out of the S-SW at 5-15 mph.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:
The Bridger, Madison and Gallatin Ranges, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone, the mountains around Cooke City and the Washburn Range:

The lack of snow over the past week has had differing effects. The snowpack has enjoyed this hiatus from precipitation since the lack of a recent load has allowed for some strengthening to occur. However, from a human standpoint it has increased the stress on powder hungry minds and has sent riders far and wide in search of the last remnants of soft snow. As we travel further and deeper into the backcountry in search of powder, we end up exposing ourselves to steeper and more dangerous avalanche terrain. This creates the confusing task of facing a snowpack that still holds the potential for producing avalanches but at the same time is showing small signs of improvement.

The fact is, a lack of recent snow and spring like temperatures may give a false sense of security when approaching avalanche terrain. Weak snow still exists on nearly every slope in every range throughout our advisory area. Near surface facets 1-2 feet below the surface exist on most slopes with a south facing aspect while buried surface hoar exists on a nearly all slopes with a north facing aspect. These thin but sensitive weak layers will react to stress provided by a skier or rider and could potentially produce dangerous avalanches. A smaller but still important detail to pay attention to on south facing slopes, is the possibility of a point release or wet slide occurring. These smaller, but still dangerous slides will most likely occur on steep south facing slopes exposed to rocks and cliffs and will generally take place from late morning to late afternoon as the sun heats up the snow surface. As south facing slopes get cooked by the sun and become less desirable to ride, the north facing slopes that hold the last scraps of powder will become the ones to be wary of. With buried surface hoar being consistently found 1-2 feet below the surface on north facing slopes, these runs should be approached and evaluated with caution before dropping in. Despite the fact conditions feel much more like spring than winter, human triggered avalanches remain possible and the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE.

Doug will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. If you get out in the backcountry let us know what you find. You can reach us at 587-6984 or email us at mtavalanche@gmail.com

Avalanche Education & Events

1. Bozeman

Join us to discuss the snowpack, weather, and circumstances leading up to the avalanche on Saddle Peak. We will show videos, pictures, and share stories about this popular sidecountry destination. Cost: Free, When: Thursday, March 4 from 6:30-7:30 p.m., Where: Bozeman Public Library meeting room.

2. Bridger Bowl

29th Annual Pinhead Classic on Saturday, March, 6th. "Carnival" is this year's costume theme, so come dressed up to race, socialize and win great prizes. Registration fee is $30 but gets you all sorts of cool stuff. Check out the website http://pinheadclassic.com for details.

3. Moonlight Basin

Comprehensive avalanche awareness class - Thursday, March 4th to Saturday, March 6th

events@moonlight.com or 406-993-6026
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:00 PM
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a Fatal Avy yesterday(4-14) in McAtee Basin by Buck Creek.
prayers out to friends & family of the victim.
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