What is Interlodge?

By Tele Tony Mar 2, 2022
What happens when too much snow falls too fast and you have to seek shelter inside while mitigation work occurs? Interlodge!
 What is Interlodge?

What in the world is interlodge? Unless you’ve been lucky enough to be in Little Cottonwood Canyon during an epic storm cycle, it’s probably not a term you’re familiar with. In short, an interlodge event happens when high snow levels and avalanche danger create conditions when it’s unsafe to be outside and avalanche control work is required to mitigate the danger.

The massive snowstorms that coat the Wasatch Mountains with over 500 inches of The Greatest Snow On Earth® each year are hardly a secret. It’s why Little Cottonwood Canyon is Shangri-La for powder hounds from all over the world. But with that glorious bounty comes periods of high avalanche danger, which sometimes require extensive control work to mitigate. This entails using explosives to trigger smaller avalanches which could themselves be dangerous to people and vehicles and prevent larger ones which could be dangerous to buildings and resort infrastructure. While this process is going on, sometimes interlodge is required.

During interlodge, road access to the resorts is shut down while the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) performs avalanche control on the road, and travel outside buildings at the resorts, which includes being in your vehicle, is illegal. So, what does an interlodge event look like when you’re visiting Snowbird or Alta Ski Area?

It’s not so bad. Typically, interlodge only lasts for a few hours, making it a great time to grab some food and beverages at the many establishments throughout Snowbird and Alta. You could do a lot worse than to enjoy a beer and slice of pizza at the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge while the snow piles up outside. Once interlodge is lifted, you’ll likely enjoy some of the best snow of your life. If you’re truly lucky, you get to reap the benefits of the fabled “Country Club Day” when lifts are able to turn safely for those already at the resorts while the roads below are closed for everyone else.

Occasionally, when snowfall rates are really high and avalanche danger remains elevated, interlodge can last for a longer time. There was recently a 52-hour interlodge in February 2020 and a 60-hour interlodge in February 2021 when more than 100 inches of snow fell at Alta in seven days. A historic avalanche cycle buried Highway 210 with debris from Superior and Monte Cristo, several UDOT vehicles were hit by debris, and a massive mitigation effort involving helicopters, UDOT staff and scores of ski patrollers was undertaken. The reward for those who were interlodged for more than two days was six hours of the most glorious country club skiing in memory at Alta. Worth it!

Take a look at this video about the 52-hour interlodge last year made by the local production company, Sweetgrass that accurately captures the experience.

If you’re at Alta or Snowbird when an interlodge event occurs, listen to resort staff, stay calm and enjoy the experience. It’s a rite of passage for Utah powder skiers, and it means it’s dumping outside. There are worse things in life than that.