What is Interlodge Protocol?
What is an "Interlodge Event?" An Interlodge event is when snow levels are so great and avalanche danger is so extreme that patrons and employees are confined to resort buildings. During interlodge road access is shutdown. Although it is rare, it is performed in the interest of everyone's safety. Travel outside the resort and even in your vehicle is deemed to be illegal.
Interlodge events can last hours or you can find yourself spending the night or nights at the resort. It usually is preplanned so if someone needs to leave the resort they have time to do so.
You may hear the term "Straight-Line Travel." If straight-line travel is permitted the guest can walk from one lodge to another. However, you will be restricted from parking lot access or other open outdoor areas.
Who's the Law? Since violating the interlodge restrictions is illegal, who enforces it? It is not uncommon for the ski patrol to be sworn in as "special deputies." It is a misdemeanor to violate interlodge protocol.
Medical can be tricky during interlodge. Most mountain resorts will have a medical clinic on site. The Ski patrollers not only are great skiiers, all are skilled in medical and many are EMT's or Paramedics. Since roads are shutdown there is no ambulance travel. Helicopters are tricky with no visible place to land, they can send down a rescue basket but will not travel during critical snow storms. The limiting factor to flying in the snow is visibility. Snowmobiles are at risk of Avalanches.
"Maximum Interlodge" is when the shelter in place includes going in basements or the lowest floor of the buildings. Maximum interlodge is done when there is a mandatory avalanche mitigation happening and the resort is in risk of an avalanche.
It has been a rather interesting winter here in parts of Utah especially at our ski resorts. Utah has set snowfall records this year. We have had numerous snow squalls, which are intense bursts of winds and snow that lead to whiteout visibility and rapidly deteriorating road conditions. We've had a couple avalanche deaths this year involving a snowmobiler and a skiier. And a couple of our ski resorts engaged the interlodge protocol.
Stay safe and stay vigilant.