DULUTH — Six-foot stacks of icy boulders line Duluth streets like foliage this winter, blocking entry to some sidewalks, turning walkers into mountain goats and sending shovelers to their heating pads.

The region's heavy, wet snowfall is creating a host of problems in one of the snowiest cities in the state, experiencing one of its snowiest winters.

Plows are running out of room to put snow, both the sheer amounts that need to be moved off roads and the tops of banks trimmed down to improve visibility, resulting in piles of tough-to-crack snowpack filling in freshly shoveled sidewalks. It's hard for residents to remove, forcing walkers in some neighborhoods out into busy streets. On many roads, sidewalk entries are blocked by chunks of ice.

"Our staff is working to respond to this huge amount of snow," said Noah Schuchman, chief administrative officer for Duluth. "Given the amount of snow we've had, there are unintended consequences."

Residents have been writing to the City Council for weeks with safety and access complaints. In early January, a plow buried the sidewalk along Joshua Bixby's eastern Duluth property edge to edge, he wrote, making the sidewalk impassable with icy chunks and a no-go for his snowblower.

"I am not even sure if I could clear it by hand using a pick ax," he wrote.

Is this Duluth winter snowier than usual? Yes. The city has received 77.7 inches, making it the seventh-snowiest on record so far. Since Dec. 1, nearly 5 inches of liquid-y precipitation has landed on snowpack, producing those impenetrable shovel-busters.

"Just having a deep snowpack is challenging itself, creating big berms along the road and limiting visibility," but the density makes moving it even harder, said Joe Moore, a Duluth National Weather Service meteorologist.

The 2 feet of snow on the ground at this early stage of a Duluth winter — with snowfall often into April — isn't typical. Data shows it's been that deep in late January only 15% of the time since 1950, Moore said.

Duluth's crew of 35 snow maintenance workers tackles the 26-mile-long city on aging plows and graders, dealing with narrow, often steep and car-lined streets. Resources for snow maintenance are thinner than in the past, Schuchman said, "but our 35 people do incredible work and in a geographically large city with some challenging conditions."

The city prioritizes dense business districts, school zones, Duluth Transit Authority and emergency routes and high traffic streets for snow removal, and tends to other areas as it has time. New snowfall can interrupt that removal work, as plows return to clearing streets.

Last year, city leaders created an online reporting tool for things like snow-related problems, and residents, including Chris Terwey, have been using it this winter.

Terwey lives on Woodland Avenue, a priority area for city snow maintenance. But the banks of snow surrounding his driveway are so tall that he can't safely exit into the high-traffic road near the University of Minnesota Duluth. When he leaves in the early morning, he turns off his headlights so he can see other lights, signaling approaching cars.

"I understand they can't clear every snowbank every winter all winter long," Terwey said, but it's a "bizarre winter" that's been tough on residents, especially when towering banks are pushed over.

"They use a front-end loader to create this thing, and they want you to use your plastic spade shovel to get it clear," he said.

Schuchman said he understands the frustration of residents contending with unwieldy blocks of snow or finding where to put them. It's easier to remove in some parts of the city than others, he said, so "we ask people to make a sincere effort."

"We track that sometimes conditions might get challenging in following the letter of the law," he said, "and we choose to understand context" if complaints are filed. City ordinance says snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks abutting property within 24 hours after a snowfall. Residents face a $200 administrative fee and must cover the cost for the city to hire a contractor for the job.

So far this winter, Schuchman said, no one has been cited.