Forecaster Observation - Rescue Creek, Flathead Range

Location Name: 
Forecaster Observation - Rescue Creek, Flathead Range
Flathead Range - Bob Marshall Wilderness
Date and time of avalanche (best estimate if unknown): 
Wed, 03/15/2017 - 12:00
Location Map: 

Red Flags: 
Recent avalanche activity
Obvious avalanche path
Terrain Trap

Observation made by: Forecaster
Avalanche Observations
Avalanche Type: 
Trigger type: 
Number of similar avalanches: 
More than 10
More detailed information about the avalanche: 

The focus of today's tour was to observe the size and distribution of avalanche activity associated with the warm wet weather system which affected our area Tuesday and Wednesday earlier this week (3/14-3/15). During this period the rain/snow line reached approximately 7000' and temperatures stayed above freezing at all elevations for approximately 48 hours. We chose Rescue Creek in the Flathead Range due to the abundance of steep avalanche paths on multiple aspects. Our secondary objective was to determine current snow surface conditions.

  • Numerous wet loose avalanche activity was noted at all elevation bands and on all aspects.
  • Numerous wet slab avalanches were observed on multiple aspects at mid elevations. Many of these were deep and seemed to fail on the February 9 and 17 ice mass.
  • Wet slab avalanches were noted at upper elevations but not to the extent seen at mid elevations. These, generally, did not appear to be as deep as the mid elevation slides.
  • Debris from numerous slab avalanches traveled into the creek bottom of Rescue Creek in the upper basin of Rescue Creek. This debris triggered additional slab avalanches and resulted in an impressive tongue of debris that terminated at approximately 4000'. The destructive potential of this debris was classified as D4 meaning that it was capable of destroying a railway car, large truck, several buildings or a substantial amount of forest.
  • The snow surface at all elevations and on all aspects consisted of a 3-4" thick crust that was supportable to boot packing at the elevation of 6000'. 
  • A hasty pit dug at 6000' showed an obvious layer of pooling water directly atop the February 9 and 17 ice mass.
  • Multiple aspects at all elevations showed impressive development of runnels that were approximately 10-14" deep which made for difficult skiing.
  • My ski partner and myself both agreed that the impressive avalanche debris that now litters this drainage has effectively "ruined" the recreational skiing in Rescue Creek for this season. 


Avalanche Photos: 
Weather Observations
Cloud Cover: 
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
Air temperature trend: