A Lost Season For An Oregon Ski Area

Mar 17, 2014

Southern Oregon’s Mount Ashland announced Friday that it won’t open at all this season because of a lack of snow.

This is the first canceled season in the ski area's fifty-year history.

Mount Ashland has four chairlifts that typically run through their normal December thru mid-April season.
Credit Ben Haley

Skiers and snowboarders in Southern Oregon won’t be able to ride the chairlifts at Mount Ashland for even a single day this season.

This makes it the only major resort in Oregon or Washington not to open.

General Manager Kim Clark says there hasn’t been much good news during a season that was supposed to be Mount Ashland’s fiftieth.

“The U.S. Forest Service has done snow surveys since 1963, the year before we opened up on the mountain – and this is the lowest snowpack ever recorded,” said Clark.

A snowpack below 20 inches, and a warm forecast for March, led to the non-profit ski area’s final decision not to open.

Ordinarily, the mountain would support 130 paid staff and about 60 volunteers.

In contrast, the staff has been reduced to four -- each working only part-time.

For season-pass holders, Mount Ashland has offered two options: half off the price of next year’s pass, or a tax-deductible donation for the amount they paid.

But neither option will address the impact to local businesses.

One ski shop owner says he’s doing about 5 to 10 percent of his normal sales.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting