TOWN OF ALTA (ABC4 News) – Monday’s avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon forced hundreds of skiers and snowboarders indoors when the town Marshal isssued an
It’s a rare occurrence but when avalanche danger is high and UDOT crews need explosives to bring the snow down, the town of Alta can force everyone indoors with an interlodge order.
It’s a a unique shelter in place order, kind of like martial law in the mountains. When an interlodge is declared, being outside means being outside of the law.
“It’s a large effort and it’s just critical that we get everybody indoors in a place of safety before we begin any explosives work,” Alta Marshal Mike Morey told ABC4 News. “Not only is there a danger from the explosives but the avalanches that could be produced sometimes can be very large, come down into the village and people waiting in cars in parking lots are just so exposed to these slide paths.”
Resort staffs at Alta and Snowbird launch into action to get everybody off the slopes and inside.
“Typically what happens is we restrict travel outside of the buildings here at Snowbird,” Communications Director Brian Brown said. “To keep everybody protected and secure and make sure we’re aware of where everybody’s at at the resort we’ll restrict public travel outside of the buildings during interlodge.”
If you think you can sneak out for one more run, think again.
“We’ve got spotters between our staff, the UDOT avalanche crews and ski patrol and we’re able to identify when somebody’s out of doors fairly quickly,” Marshal Morey said. “Under the Alta town ordinances, interlodge is a Class B Misdemanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.”
In the past five days, a handful of people have learned that legal lesson the hard way.
“We’ve encountered nine individuals between the Thursday event and yesterday morning,” the Marshal said. “Knowing the restrictions were in place, trying to go outside, trying to work their way either to another building or into the ski area.”
Many skiers that spoke to ABC4 said they made an unplanned stay at the resorts Monday night. The silver lining: they were among the first in line for fresh powder Tuesday morning.