MISSOULA — Winter sports enthusiasts chomping at the bit for some real winter weather are flocking to the mountains and trails right now.
But experienced backcountry travelers are saying caution must come first with the new snowfall.
Popular destinations like Lolo Pass were seeing a steady stream of snowmobiles, skiers and others after the epic dump of snow this weekend.
They're telling us the powder is fantastic right now, "right up to the handlebars" according to these two snowbike riders from Missoula.
But the sheer volume of snow, coming on top of already sketchy conditions is also pretty scary on the steeper slopes and hazard areas.
That's underscoring the absolute necessity of not only being trained and equipped for safe travel right now, but checking, and double-checking the avalanche forecasts.
"Conditions are beautiful. There's a lot of deep snow. But you've just got to be really careful. The Missoula Avalanche guys...have it nailed,” said snowbike rider Craig Holtet. “Anything steep was sliding and sloughing, and wind slabs up high.”
“And you've just got to be careful. But, super pretty. Stay on simple, low angle terrain and enjoy the snow,” Holtet added.
The avalanche hazard across West Central Montana, and the Flathead, including the Whitefish, Flathead and Swan ranges, has been ranging from "considerable" to "high" over the past few days.
Click here to view the latest avalanche forecast for west-central Montana.