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MN Mike

Helmet ID ??

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No, I'm not looking for help on a helmet, we just got back from Cooke City and it was unbelievable!

About the only way you could identify the rider was by the helmet they were wearing. We haven't been in snow this deep since Buffalo Pass Colorado in 2008..... needless to say, it was a stuck fest too but oh well....

Visibility was poor but the powder riding was out of this world!

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9 of us rode Cooke Thurs, Friday and a partial day Saturday, the snow never stopped falling, Friday was the best ride ( most of the pictures ), Saturday was a lot of wind and wind loading, you didn't know when you would fall into a pocket of newly deposited snow, getting stuck going down hill wasn't uncommon.

Even small hills were unclimbable which was a good thing judging from todays Avy report.

If anyones heading west ( we saw a lot of rigs headed that way today ) be careful, it's going to take a few days for the snowpack to adjust.

Mike

AVALANCHE WARNING

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center is issuing a Backcountry Avalanche Warning for the southern Gallatin Range, Southern Madison Range, Lionhead area near West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Heavy snowfall over the past three days has created highly unstable conditions. In addition to the new snow, strong winds have transported snow onto leeward slopes causing additional stress. Weak facets near the ground will be unable to support this new load making both natural and human triggered avalanches likely. The avalanche danger is rated HIGH on all slopes in the southern Gallatin Range, southern Madison Range, Lionhead area near West Yellowstone and Cooke City. Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended and avalanche runout zones should be avoided.

Mountain Weather:

What a storm! Over the past 24 hours the mountains around Cooke City have received well over a foot of snow totaling 1.5 inches SWE (snow water equivalent). The mountains around West Yellowstone including the southern Madison Range received close to a foot of snow totaling 1 inch of SWE while the mountains around Bozeman and Big Ski picked up around three inches of snow totaling .3 inches of SWE.

The one element that has not been spared is WIND! Consistent winds of 20-30 mph out of the west-southwest have been blowing all night with gusts close to 50 mph being recorded in most locations. Today, winds will decrease slightly, but will pick back up this afternoon.

This morning temperatures are in the mid-teens to low twenties F under partly to mostly cloudy skies. Precipitation has shut off, but there is an increasing chance of mountain snow showers later in the day. Highs will warm into the upper twenties F and winds will continue to blow 20-40 out of the west-southwest. 1-2 inches of snow is possible in the northern mountains and 3-5 inches in the southern mountains by tomorrow morning.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:

Southern Gallatin Range Southern Madison Range

Lionhead area near West Yellowstone

The snowpack is coming unglued. If there was ever a day to stay out of the backcountry - today is it. I recommend watching football, reading a book or going to the movies - in other words stay out of avalanche terrain.

Over the past three days Madison Plateau Snotel site has recorded 1.6 inches of SWE while Carrot Basin Snotel site in the southern Madison Range is up to 1.8 inches of SWE. This rapid and heavy load has been deposited on a weak and fragile snowpack.

The new snow alone is enough to create highly unstable conditions - this combined with hurricane force winds makes natural and human triggered avalanches likely on all slopes. It will be possible to trigger avalanches from a distance and in low angle terrain with larger slopes above. All avalanche terrain including avalanche runout zones should be avoided.

Today, travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended and the avalanche danger is rated HIGH on all slopes.

Cooke City

The mountains around Cooke City have a stronger snowpack than the mountains around West Yellowstone. However, even the strongest snowpack can be broken. Over the past three days this area has received close to three feet of snow totaling nearly three inches of SWE – a massive load for any snowpack to bear.

Yesterday, a skier observed widespread natural avalanche activity; bull’s eye data the snowpack is unstable. If the snowpack cannot support the weight of new snow, there is no question it can’t support the weight of a skier or rider.

Today, the avalanche danger is rated HIGH on all slopes. Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely and avalanche terrain including avalanche runout zones should be avoided.

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Man Mike, not sure I would have liked trying to find my way out of there late in the day when it's snowing that hard and that much on the ground. A GPS will show you where you are and where you need to go but it's hard to see through all that to know if your driving over or off something! eek

Glad you had fun and made it back ok. wink

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This year we stayed at the Super 8, other times we stay at Soda Butte ( we alternate between them, Super 8 has nicer rooms, Soda Butte has everything in one building, restaurant, bar, hot tub, fireplace ) and we've also stayed at the Alpine Inn but they don't have phones in the room so you either have to stand outside and use the pay phone or use one of the pay phones at the Miners Saloon or Soda Butte. Absolutely no cell service in or around Cooke.

Another place some friends have stayed at is Antlers and they say it's very nice there too and I believe they have an outdoor hot tub and they also serve very good food.

Mike

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Man Mike, not sure I would have liked trying to find my way out of there late in the day when it's snowing that hard and that much on the ground. A GPS will show you where you are and where you need to go but it's hard to see through all that to know if your driving over or off something! eek

Glad you had fun and made it back ok. wink

There weren't many people out riding Friday, that's when most of the snow fell during the day, we were just crazy enough to drop off of Daisy and get back in the trees and run the meadows, what a blast. Shooting from the hip, I'd say Daisy Pass is about a 500 foot drop or better from the top if the pass to the bottom and that's a pure guestimate on my part, I might be way off on that........ maybe I should go back and measure it grin

On the way out, there were moments of total white outs in the open, we sat at the base of Daisy and the person 10 feet away disappeared for a few moments, if you waited about a minute or so, then you could see where you were headed.

There was a little pucker factor climbing out but we've been up and down that pass hundreds of times and know the lay of the land pretty well.

We had one new rookey with us, he tipped his sled ( a rental ) over about 2/3rds the way up Daisy, there was enough snow, so the sled didn't take off on him but my buddy Jim drove the sled down and brought it back to the top for him, pretty sure he had to change his drawers after that one, he walked to the top and he never dropped down Daisy for the rest of the trip.

Also run into a fellow that had a Ski Doo Renegade out there, couldn't have been more than a 1" lug track on that! He didn't stand a prayer, once again my buddy Jim jumped on, took it up but failed to get higher than about 1/3 the way on the tracks we had made, he came back down. Then he decided to take the trail where people had been coming down, he opened up the throttle and didn't back off, rode that sucker up the mountain like a bull rider on a bull and I'll be danged if he didn't make it after what seemed to be about 1 minute....... DANG that was funny, I should have videoed it.

It's always something different in Cooke, that's why we like going back there, we might have pushed the envelope a little this year but if we hadn't been so familiar with it, we wouldn't have done what we did.

Mike

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I absolutely love Cooke City. I haven't been out since 2007, but I will be back eventually. We've had 3'+ powder days, and hardpack spring days....each are fun in their own way. Great pics!

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If a guy could have gone at the drop of the hat, last weekend would have been a dandy, they squeezed out a couple more feet in a day or 2.

We should be heading back out in March again if everyones plans come together, guys are already callin!

Mike

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Cough..... Cough..... Cough...... sick

Anyone else feeling sick? grin

If the work load wasn't soooo heavy this week, I'd be outta here!

Bob at Bearclaw Sales and Service says there's been 2 - 3 feet of snow IN TOWN since last weekend, should be four feet plus up top!

They pick up a bunch of snow a couple weekends ago too.

Mike

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Huum, lets see 4' X 12" = 48" plus a few 52" inchs um, by track length and ski length um, ya. If you tail walk the whole time you should be ok! grin

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Todays Avy report:

Cooke City

The snowpack near Cooke City continues to get loaded with new snow and wind. Since the end of a dry period in late January, the mountains near Cooke City have received snowfall containing 8.6 inches of SWE which is roughly 10 feet of snow. Strong winds have occurred for the last week. The long term forecast for stability is good once the snowpack gets a breather. For now however, the snowpack is like anything else – add enough stress and it will break. With more snow yesterday, more strong winds, and more snow coming, avalanches (photo) will continue to occur. Some slides may even be triggered from flat terrain underneath steep slopes. Slopes receiving wind-blown snow have the most stress and are the most likely to slide, thus the avalanche danger is rated HIGH on any wind-loaded slope and CONSIDERABLE everywhere else.

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I thought of this thread after reading the tragic story of young MN man killed in an avalanche over there. frown

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Thats horrible news, I saw that on Snowests site last night. They released a huge avalanche last weekend too on Scotch Bonnet, 10 feet deep and something like 1000 yards wide..... thats huge.

Prayers go out to this young fella's family. They will have a full writeup in a few days on the avalanche site from Montana, they are out there doing a report today.

Not what I wanted to hear the night before we head to Cooke, we are just going through Bismarck right now on our way out.

Avy report wasn't very encouraging today but it should get better as time goes on, they are calling for more snow Friday and Saturday.

I haven't played at all where the one released last weekend but the one yesterday is really close to Daisy pass, one of the main passes in the Cooke City area and from the sounds of it, the avalanche might have been remotely triggered by another rider..... that's scarey.

Someone said this is the most snow they've seen around Cooke in 30 years.

Mike

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GREAT day of riding today, we headed to Top of The World Wyoming and rode there instead of Cooke City. Tomorrow we ride Cooke.

All of the guys with today have never been to Top of The World and gave it 2 thumbs up figured it was the best ride of the year so far, we had about 14" of powder, other spots had more and most areas had a good base. LOTS of Sunshine.

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Still more bad news from Cooke, today I heard they lost another snowmobiler, no avalanche involved, heard they crashed into a ditch bank they didn't see coming, haven't heard where they were from frown

Mike

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