Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:00 am

Early Season Avalanche Information and News

Early Season Avalanche Information
Posted November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! This is Steve Karkanen at the West Central Montana Avalanche Center with early season avalanche information and news from the avalanche center. We begin issuing regular avalanche advisories on December 19th and will update snow and weather information prior to this as conditions change.

SNOTEL sites in the Bitterroot and the Rattlesnake are showing around 12” of snow on the ground w/ Saddle Mountain SNOTEL (near Lost Trail Pass) reporting about 15”. The high elevations near Seeley Lake also have about 12”. There is no snow below 6000′ in most areas and not much anticipated in the next few days. Not to worry. It will snow, it always does. In the meantime, make sure all your winter backcountry equipment is in good working condition, put new batteries in your transceiver and start preparing to recognize where and when you are in a situation where an avalanche could happen. The best way to do this is to take a class. We have several scheduled this winter and many more to come. Check out our events and education page for upcoming classes.

Avalanche Advisories

We’ve made a few changes to our program this year. We will be issuing advisories 2 days each week, on Monday and Friday mornings starting December 19th. This is in response to backcountry users asking for updated avalanche information to cover the early part of the week. This would not be possible without the financial support from our friends group, the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation. This organization is vital to our ability to continue to provide avalanche advisories and education in Western Montana. They are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit and you can donate directly to this good cause from this website.

We are dropping our coverage of the St. Regis Basin area near Lookout Pass. We felt it was unnecessary for 2 centers to cover this area, the terrain and elevation is more similar to areas the Panhandle Avy Center covers in their advisory and most users are from ID and WA locations. The Idaho Panhandle NF Avalanche Center will continue to issue avalanche advisories for the St. Regis Basin. Bookmark their website at:

Beacon Basin Training Parks

Have an avalanche transceiver? Do you practice using it? Be honest… Beacon Basin training parks are a fun and user friendly way to become proficient with any type of avalanche transceiver. The Foundation has purchased 2 Beacon Basin training parks that will be operational this winter. One training park will be set up at Lolo Pass and another at Montana Snowbowl. Users will be required to check out the control unit from the Visitor Center staff at Lolo Pass and from the ski patrol at Snowbowl. There is no cost to use these excellent training tools.

Check out this article about Beacon Basin Training Parks:

If you have any avalanche or snowpack information you’d like to share or have questions about the upcoming season, please contact us at [email protected].

Have a great holiday!

Regular avalanche advisories will be posted starting December 19, 2008.


This information is the sole responsibility of the Forest Service and does not apply to operating ski areas. The avalanche danger rating expires at midnight tonight but the information can help you make a more informed decision regarding travel in avalanche terrain for the next few days.

Our advisory area includes National Forest System lands in the Bitterroot Mountains from Lost Trail Pass north to Granite Pass, the Rattlesnake Mountains north of Missoula and the Southern Swan and Mission Mountains near Seeley Lake, MT. Avalanche information for the Lookout Pass/St. Regis Basin area is available from the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center.