Little Cottonwood Canyon Shuts Down For 2nd Time Due To Avalanche Mitigation

Feb 15, 2021, 10:18 PM | Updated: 11:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Crews shut down SR-210 at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon as they prepared for the second round of avalanche mitigation efforts in less than 24 hours.

The Alta Town Marshal’s Office also announced interlodge closures beginning at 11 p.m. Monday and cautioned all those staying in the area to be prepared with adequate food, medication and supplies.

It was unclear as of late Monday when exactly the road up the canyon would re-open.

Earlier Monday, crews closed SR-210 for mid-canyon avalanche mitigation.

“With how the snow and the snowpack is coming in, it really is increasing the avalanche dangers,” said Unified Police Sgt. Ed Twohill. “That’s why we had to shut it down this afternoon — to do avalanche control work.”

Forecasters were urging extreme caution to anyone considering a trip to the backcountry amid escalating avalanche danger and new snow totals of as much as four feet expected in the upper Cottonwoods by Wednesday.

“It’s just a reminder that these are big mountains we’re out in here and they’re not just a playground,” said out-of-state visitor Frank Hattler.

Many heading to the outdoors Monday were still reflecting on the massive avalanche in Millcreek Canyon on Feb. 6 that left four skiers dead.

“My heart definitely goes out to those individuals who were involved,” said Sienna Chilcutt. “It just hits close to home, you know. They were experienced, they knew what they were doing. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

For those expected to gear up and head to the great outdoors to take advantage of the fresh powder, first-responders said they didn’t want to see a mishap on the road up the canyon.

“Little Cottonwood is actually like the most dangerous canyon in the world from the avalanche index,” Twohill said. “It’s a really, really serious deal.”

Twohill said he hopes everyone will realize the danger and potential hazard in backcountry areas in the coming days.

“We want to get them up, we want them to do stuff,” Twohill said. “Some folks just don’t understand how truly dangerous it is.”

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Little Cottonwood Canyon Shuts Down For 2nd Time Due To Avalanche Mitigation