Ski area closes after winds cut the power

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area was closed on Monday after the same storm that brought plentiful snow also unleashed winds that likely caused a power outage on the mountain.

The ski area lost power at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday after the mountain sustained 60 mph winds. The outage forced the ski area to close two-and-a-half hours early, General Manager Kim Clark said.

With no estimate from Pacific Power on when electricity would be restored, ski area managers decided not to open the resort Monday, and it remained without power as of Monday afternoon.

Managers expect to resume normal operations on Thursday.

Pacific Power located the source of the trouble in overhead lines off the mountain, Clark said. The electricity lines stretch from the mountain to Emigrant Lake, said Marketing Director Rick Saul.

The ski area also lost power on Friday evening, leading to a 6:35 p.m. closure. Night skiing had been scheduled that evening until 9 p.m., Clark said.

When the power goes out, ski area workers start up auxiliary power units, ski officials said.

It took 35 to 40 minutes to get the last people off of chairlifts on Friday and Sunday, Clark said.

Ski patrol members were the last to get off the chairlifts. They swept the mountain to make sure no guests were left, he said.

Monday's closure was another bump in a rocky start to the ski season for Mt. Ashland.

It opened on Dec. 16, but was closed Jan. 2-18 because of unusually warm weather that melted snow on the mountain. It reopened on Jan. 19 after receiving snow.

Saul said the ski area has suffered significantly worse years in past seasons.

During winter 1976-77, the ski area didn't open until Feb. 17 and hosted only 25,000 skier visits, Saul said.

The ski area was closed from Dec. 23 though Jan. 7 during winter 1991-92, he said.

"What we're mirroring is the '95-'96 ski season when we opened on Dec. 16, closed on Dec. 30 and reopened on Jan. 16," Saul said. "But we ended up staying open until closing day on April 14."

That year, skier visits were down to 75,000 from a typical winter of about 80,000 to 90,000 visits, he said.

Missed days on the ski calendar mean lost revenue for the ski area and difficulty meeting budget projections, Saul said.

On the bright side, he said recent storms mean plentiful snow on the mountain.

"We have lots of snow. It's been a mixture of unfortunate elements. A powerful storm brings in copious amounts of snow, but it also tends to bring wind," he said. "Hang in there with us, and we'll have a good rest of the season."

As of Monday, the ski area had received 13 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours and 59 inches of snow in the past week.

Snow depth at the base of the ski area was 59 inches, with 87 inches of snow high on the mountain.

For updates, visit or call the Mt. Ashland Ski Area snow phone at 541-482-2754.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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