Though winter doesn’t officially start until later in December, avalanche danger is already ticking up across southwest Montana.
For both the Gallatin and Madison ranges, all wind-loaded slopes are rated as having a considerable avalanche danger, while all other slopes are rated as Moderate.
Strong winds this week have been blowing snow from one side of the mountains to the other, causing these wind-loaded slopes to become prone to avalanches.
Gallatin National Forest Service Avalanche Center Director Doug Chabot say that you need to exercise extra caution in the backcountry.
“You find these smooth, drummy sounding wells and drifts of snow and if they crack as you’re approaching them, you get a crack that shoots out like 10 or 15 feet in front of your skis, that’s a sign that the slope is ripe to avalanche and you should not proceed any further,” Chabot said.
The Avalanche Center recommends that ice climbers, skiers, and backcountry travelers to look over their avalanche advisory which is updated every morning.