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Big and Little Cottonwood resorts institute max interlodge amid “unprecedented” snow

UDOT has shut down Big Cottonwood Canyon (except for a couple hours) and Little Cottonwood Canyon for the past three days.

Resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon went into maximum Interlodge Wednesday.

That means skiers shelter in place in the basement or lowest floor of buildings.

It comes after resorts in the Cottonwoods got around five feet of snow during the recent storm. Snowbird is calling the situation an “unpredicted event with extraordinary conditions that no one has experienced before.”

Snowbird lifted the maximum level of interlodge around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to allow for travel between buildings and so people could start digging out their cars. Moving the cars remained prohibited.

At Alta, any employee not fielding calls from the media indoors was out shoveling or otherwise working to reopen. Even as it pushes 900 inches of snow for the season, Alta said it hopes to reopen Thursday.

Brighton has deferred to the Utah Department of Transportation as to when it will reopen, and Solitude has been retweeting UDOT’s updates too.

UDOT called the snow “unprecedented” on Wednesday and said it’s working on getting food trucks up the canyons for people sheltering in place.

It’s unknown how many people have taken shelter Wednesday, but one employee said he has been stuck at Snowbird since Sunday. As of 3 p.m. Wednesday there was no estimated time of roads reopening as debris cleaning and avalanche mitigation continued.

On the subject of avalanches: the storm system hasn’t affected just the resorts.

“[Monday] skiing in the backcountry may have been my most dangerous day of skiing of my life,” Brody Leven said.

Leven is an avid backcountry skier and captain of the Protect Our Winters (POW) ski team.

“If you would have just fallen over—just a typical fall on skis—just fallen into the snow, it would have been like falling into the deepest tree well or something like that,” Leven said. “You can imagine it was terrifying skiing yesterday.”

The Utah Avalanche Center has rated the avalanche danger “high” in the Wasatch Mountains and the Uintas at least until Wednesday.

Statewide, Utah is about to accumulate a snowpack that contains 30 inches of water. It’s smashing the previous records from the 1980s, which combined with a swift temperature increase to create the infamous river on State Street.

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