Trip Planning for Lionhead Range

as of 5:00 am
May 11″ | NA
Apr 30 2″ | NA
Apr 29 0″ | NA
9420′     04/12 at 12:00
32.0℉
N - 0mph
Gusts 0 mph
7750′     05/19 at 22:00
32℉
29″ Depth
Bottom Line: Spring weather can be highly variable and create a mix of avalanche problems to watch out for. Snow conditions and snow stability can change drastically from day to day or hour to hour. Anticipate rapid change and plan accordingly. Plenty of snowfall over the winter with more spring snow to come makes avalanches possible into summer.

Past 5 Days

Fri Apr 19

None
Mon Apr 22

None
Fri Apr 26

None
Mon Apr 29

None
Thu May 2

None

Relevant Avalanche Activity

Cooke City
Republic Mountain
Skier triggered large Wet loose on the fin
Incident details include images
Republic Mountain
L-ASu-R2-D2-I
Elevation: 10,000
Aspect: E
Coordinates: 45.0003, -109.9540
Caught: 0 ; Buried: 0

From obs.: “Our party (3) triggered a significant wet loose slide on the fin today. I, the first skier dropped in next to existing tracks from earlier in the morning. I made a couple of small turns in unskied snow to test it and decided that not much was moving. As I continued down the wet surface snow started to slide and accumulate. My partner called me on the radio to tell me a lot of snow was moving behind me and I cut left. I traversed hard to lower angle terrain until I felt I could safely descend the rest of the slope.  My partners descended the bed surface until they could traverse out. 

We made several key mistakes today.  We knew it would be warm and that we should be up and down early.  We left later than planned, moved slower than expected and failed to adjust our plan.  We mistook lack of wet loose activity on similar aspects and elevations on features we could see as sign of stability.  We failed to make a plan B or establish a turnaround time.  We interpreted a party ahead of us that skied the slope as a go ahead.  Another party approaching behind us added pressure to go. They also skied the slope after us in similar style to my partners.

In our favor, we communicated well, radios were key, stayed calm and we managed ourselves through the situation. I feel humbled and lucky to have gotten away with a free lesson.  One that I didn't think I should have needed.”


More Avalanche Details

Relevant Photos

Displaying 1 - 40
  • On 5/4/24 Skiers triggered large wet loose slides on the Fin near Cooke City

  • Photo: GNFAC

  • These roller balls and a small wet loose avalanche near Ski Hill that likely happened between 04/03 and 04/04/2024. Photo: GNFAC

  • Photo: GNFAC

  • We rode from the Buttermilk trailhead up Denny Creek to Lionhead Ridge, along Lionhead Ridge through Watkins Creek and to the motorized boundary at the head of Targhee Creek. 

    There was a ~1" crust at the surface when we left the trailhead, with dry snow beneath. We saw our first wet loose avalanche of the day running around 11 am. By 12:30 there were dozens and many rollerballs. None of them ran particularly far or picked up too much volume.  The snow surface was moist on sunny slopes by late morning, but not more than a few inches down.

  • We rode from the Buttermilk trailhead up Denny Creek to Lionhead Ridge, along Lionhead Ridge through Watkins Creek and to the motorized boundary at the head of Targhee Creek.

    We saw one small slab avalanche that occurred since this weekend's snow. It appears to have been triggered by a snowmobile yesterday (4/1/24). It broke 10" to 2 ft deep, 50 ft wide, and ran ~50 vertical feet. It broke on a thin layer of facets beneath the new snow. Digging in the crown, dry facets at the ground were along still present and weak (fist hardness).

  • We rode from the Buttermilk trailhead up Denny Creek to Lionhead Ridge, along Lionhead Ridge through Watkins Creek and to the motorized boundary at the head of Targhee Creek. 

    There was a ~1" crust at the surface when we left the trailhead, with dry snow beneath. We saw our first wet loose avalanche of the day running around 11 am. By 12:30 there were dozens and many rollerballs. None of them ran particularly far or picked up too much volume.  The snow surface was moist on sunny slopes by late morning, but not more than a few inches down.

  • Large cornices on Lionhead Ridge. 4/2/24 photo. GNFAC

  • A group of snowmobilers watched a pow surfer trigger an avalanche. The individual was buried to his chest and thankfully uninjured. 

  • We noted four storm slab avalanches along Lionhead Ridge and two larger slides that broke deeper on wind loaded slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • We noted four storm slab avalanches along Lionhead Ridge and two larger slides that broke deeper on wind loaded slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • We noted four storm slab avalanches along Lionhead Ridge and two larger slides that broke deeper on wind loaded slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • We noted four storm slab avalanches along Lionhead Ridge and two larger slides that broke deeper on wind loaded slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • We noted four storm slab avalanches along Lionhead Ridge and two larger slides that broke deeper on wind loaded slopes. Photo: GNFAC

  • From IG:

    Very large natural avalanche in the Lionhead Area. Multiple other smaller naturals as well.

    Pics taken 03/05/24

  • From IG:

    Very large natural avalanche in the Lionhead Area. Multiple other smaller naturals as well.

    Pics taken 03/05/24

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • From a phone call:

    A rider saw a large avalanche in one of the bowls around the corner of Lionhead avalanched. It likely occurred on Friday, March 1. There were holes dug in the snow indicating a buried person or sled. This is the same slope that killed a 19 year old from MN on December 28, 2006. They conducted a beacon search on the debris to make sure no one was buried.

  • While riding below Lionhead Ridge we observed a wind slab avalanche that likely happened a few days ago. This avalanche looked to be 12" deep and broke 100' wide. Photo: GNFAC

     

  • Riders spotted this large avalanche on a west-facing aspect in Targhee Creek in the Lionhead area on Saturday. Photo: K. Stahl

  • From email: "We noticed a multitude of slides on north- and east-facing slopes, many of which seemed to have been from the prior weekend. I snapped a picture of one on the opposite side of the drainage that was a couple of feet deep. Adjacent to it was some more debris." 

  • On 2/16/24 we saw a lot of old and recent avalanches that happened at various times over the last week, and in a wide variety of terrain. On lower elevation, generally non-wind-loaded terrain in the trees we saw at least 4 avalanches that were 1-2' deep and at least 100' wide. Near ridgelines there were many avalanches, harder slabs, at least 1-2' deep breaking hundreds of feet wide. Photo: GNFAC

  • On 2/16/24 we saw a lot of old and recent avalanches that happened at various times over the last week, and in a wide variety of terrain. On lower elevation, generally non-wind-loaded terrain in the trees we saw at least 4 avalanches that were 1-2' deep and at least 100' wide. Near ridgelines there were many avalanches, harder slabs, at least 1-2' deep breaking hundreds of feet wide. Photo: GNFAC

  • We saw a fresh avalanche in Watkins Creek that we think was triggered remotely during the day on 2/16 by a group that was riding in a flat meadow above, where we saw their tracks at least 150 feet away (photo). This slide was 2-3' deep and 100-150' feet wide, breaking on old sugary snow. HS-R3-D2-O. Photo: GNFAC

  • A pit in the flank of an avalanche above Hebgen Lake. The stripe in the picture delineates the new snow over the unstable, old, faceted snow. This interface is where avalanches are occurirng. Karl Birkeland was using his 100 cm long Norwegian Battle Saw...a bit overkill. Photo: GNFAC

  • Crossing onto the debris of a large avalanche that likely released a couple days ago above Hebgen Lake. Photo: GNFAC

  • Skiers saw an entire bowl filled with shooting cracks where weak layers failed but the slope was not steep enough to avalanche. Photo: H Darby

  • An avalanche that failed a couple of days ago at Hebgen Lake. Photo: H. Darby

  • A group of riders triggered this large avalanche on Lionhead Ridge as they traveled in nearby terrain that was much less steep. Photo: T. Urell

  • From obs: "There were shooting cracks everywhere, and it looked like the cracks propagated into a slab that would have broken up more if the slope had been steeper. It almost looked like a crevasse field with how many cracks there were. Photo is included but I don't think shows just how broken up that "relatively benign" terrain was. I have never seen anything like that before! " Photo: H. Darby

  • Two natural avalanches that likely happened in the last 24-48 hours. 500' wide. "Crown line extends basically the entire ridge in the background." Photo. H. Darby

     

  • The crown of a natural avalanche likely happened in the last 12 hours. This avalanche broke 200' wide, 3-4' deep, and ran "almost full path" to the trees below. Photo: H. Darby

     

     

  • Avalanche along Lionhead Ridge that appeared to be several days old. 1/26/24 Photo: GNFAC

  • Avalanche on Lionhead Ridge that appeared to be several days old. 1/26/24 Photo: GNFAC

  • Avalanche in Targhee Creek that appeared to be several days old. 1/26/24 Photo: GNFAC

  • A slide in Watkins Creek broke across three avalanche paths/gully features and was one of the larger slides we've seen this season, looking to have piled up debris 10+ ft deep. Looks to have broken in the last 24 hours. 1/26/24 Photo: GNFAC

Videos- Lionhead Range

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Snowpit Profiles- Lionhead Range

 

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Weather Forecast Lionhead Range

Extended Forecast for

10 Miles WNW West Yellowstone MT

  • Tonight

    Tonight: A slight chance of snow before midnight, then a chance of snow after 1am.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. North northeast wind around 9 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 30%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Low: 26 °F

    Chance Snow

  • Monday

    Monday: Snow showers. Some thunder is also possible.  High near 38. Northeast wind 8 to 11 mph becoming west southwest in the morning.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    High: 38 °F

    Chance Snow
    then Snow
    Showers

  • Monday Night

    Monday Night: Snow showers likely before 9pm, then snow likely, mainly between 9pm and midnight. Some thunder is also possible.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. North northeast wind 11 to 13 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    Low: 27 °F

    Snow Showers
    Likely

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday: Snow likely before noon, then snow showers likely after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. North wind 10 to 13 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

    High: 40 °F

    Snow Likely

  • Tuesday Night

    Tuesday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow showers before midnight. Some thunder is also possible.  Partly cloudy, with a low around 28. West northwest wind 8 to 10 mph becoming south southeast after midnight.  Little or no snow accumulation expected.

    Low: 28 °F

    Chance Snow
    Showers then
    Partly Cloudy

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday: A chance of snow before noon, then snow showers after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  High near 37. South southwest wind 10 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

    High: 37 °F

    Chance Snow
    then Snow
    Showers

  • Wednesday Night

    Wednesday Night: Snow showers before midnight, then snow after midnight. Some thunder is also possible.  Low around 28. South wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

    Low: 28 °F

    Snow Showers

  • Thursday

    Thursday: Snow before noon, then snow showers after noon. Some thunder is also possible.  Cloudy, with a high near 34. South wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.

    High: 34 °F

    Snow

  • Thursday Night

    Thursday Night: Snow likely, mainly before midnight.  Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26.

    Low: 26 °F

    Snow Likely

The Last Word

We began daily forecasts on December 7. 130 daily forecasts and 464 reported avalanches later, we wrapped up our daily forecasting season on April 14th. Read our SEASON SUMMARY to look back at the 2023-24 avalanche forecasting season.

Thank you to everyone that sent in observations, read the advisories, took an avalanche class, or donated money, time or gear. Our success is directly related to support from the community and the Forest Service. Have a safe spring and summer!

4 / 29 / 24  <<  
 
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