ALTA, Utah (ABC4) – Little Cottonwood Canyon has been closed for two days due to snow conditions.
Andria Huskinson, Communications Manager for Alta Ski Area, tells ABC4 the town of Alta, located up Little Cottonwood Canyon, was put on an interlodge around 11 p.m. Monday night and has stayed under interlodge since. “We don’t want people going up and down the canyon,” said Huskinson.
What is an interlodge? Interlodge means everyone must stay inside a building with no outdoor travel until unsafe snow conditions can be mitigated. “You can’t even walk out the door to grab anything. You have to stay inside the building,” said Huskinson.
Interlodge protects people from the triggered or natural avalanche control that is taking place outside. “What they’ve seen is a lot of natural slides have come across the road, and that’s why the road has stayed closed as long as it has,” said Huskinson.
Alta Ski Area works alongside the Utah Department of Transportation, UDOT, to intentionally trigger avalanches to make the road and ski area safer for travel. Due to safety concerns, skiers and staff cannot be in their cars during an interlodge.
Huskinson says there is a lot of accumulating snow up at Alta and Snowbird ski resorts. She says guests and residents of Alta have been placed under the current interlodge due to naturally occurring avalanche dangers.
Huskinson tells ABC4 the town is notified before they go under an interlodge. Staffing at Alta lodging and residents are warned so they can prepare as much as possible before the canyon closes.
Before the interlodge took effect on Monday night, Huskinson says UDOT worked to get everyone who did not have a place to stay overnight down the canyon before it closed.
Anyone who remained was staying at a lodge and had a safe place to spend the night.
In years past, Alta resort visitors would wait out the interlodge in Goldminers Lodge. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Goldminers is closed this year giving visitors no place to wait for the interlodge to end.
For those staying inside one of the lodges at Alta, operations inside are as normal. While all outside areas are forbidden. “If you step outside the building you will be fined,” Huskinson says.
She says there are signs at every door warning partons that they cannot under any circumstances go outside.
Residents who live in the town of Alta are “well prepared,” Huskinson adds. She says they are used to interlodge protocol and stay prepared for road closures. “People follow the rules really well.”
Currently, Huskinson says there is not a “estimated reopening as of now.” She says the canyon will open back up when proper mitigation with UDOT is done.
“The main thing is we are trying to keep people safe,” Huskinson says of the two-day interlodge. “Interlodges are only put in place to keep everyone safe,” she adds.
Huskinson tells ABC4 the current storm totals at Alta is 53 inches, the base is 136 inches and the season total is 320 inches.
“In the last 12 hours we have had 13 inches and in the last 24 hours we have had 27 inches, that equals a lot of snow, and it’s still snowing,” Huskinson shares.