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Avalanche danger closes Little Cottonwood Canyon for another day

For a second day on Friday, Alta Ski Resort was closed due to avalanche dangers. (Screen grab of an avalanche falling within Alta boundaries. Credit: Lisa Maxwell)

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON – The most extreme avalanche danger they’ve seen in years.  That’s how transportation officials are describing the conditions in Little Cottonwood Canyon as they explain why they’re keeping the road closed for a second day.

Resort visitors like Lisa Maxwell are trying to make the best of being “interlodged” for the second day in a row.  That means she can’t go outdoors for any reason because the potential for an avalanche is too high.  She says people could also be hit with shrapnel from the mortars used to clear avalanche areas.

Between Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, she had seen five avalanches right outside her window.

“Luckily, we’re in a very secure, safe condo.  I’m sure if [we] would have been out in it, it would have been frightening,” Maxwell said.

She’s staying with friends at Alta Ski Resort, near the Snowbird boundary.  Her group had been planning to stay at the resort for a while, but, she says others weren’t ready for anything like this.

“There are people who are staying in the same condominium complex that were totally ill-prepared and had not brought food,” Maxwell said. “So, we’ve been having to empty out the pantry and the freezer.”

According to Maxwell, trees have been flattened and deep snow is piling up.

Department of Transportation Spokesman John Gleason says, “A slide that hit at Entry One up at Snowbird was at least ten feet deep.”

Gleason says the danger comes from heavy amounts of new powder falling on top of smaller, weaker layers of snow.

“There are some other areas up there we’re seeing [snow] 15 feet deep across the road.  These are areas that haven’t had activity like that in the last 15 years,” Gleason says.

Further reading:

Rare avalanche advisory for valleys and benches

Avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon pushes car off road

Avalanche in Summit County backcountry kills snowboarder