Letter at Length

Check the facts on snowfall claim

Before you accept Mt. Ashland managers' claims of the worst snow year in 20 years, check the facts on their website about this season's snowfall.

The mountain received 302 inches of snow within the limited recording period of November to the closing day of operations in April. The recently released city of Ashland annual water quality report for 2011 states that, "The average snowfall on Mt. Ashland is 263 inches. This is based on records kept by Mt. Ashland since 1983."

Management complained about the lack of snowfall in December and January and numerous closures due to high winds and electrical failures.

Guess what? Almost every year since I first skied the mountain in 1974, the mountain has suffered through a lack of snowfall in December and January and has had numerous closures due to high winds and electrical failures. That is why it is imperative to have a rainy-day fund for the years when the mountain fails to make a profit. Failure to do so is reckless.

Since Kim Clark took over as general manager a few years back, management raised the season pass prices, reduced the mountain to a five-days-a-week operation and spent all of the already established and hard-earned $2 million-plus rainy-day fund in pursuit of an expansion. The attitude has become expand or kill the hill in the process. Now that appears to be what is happening.

Many folks have decided not to buy a season pass for a part-time operation, further damaging the bottom line. They will blow off work and come up on a powder day and buy a day pass, if the mountain happens to be open.

The skiing on the mountain was glorious in February and March. I would go up on a Thursday powder day at 9 a.m. when management finally decided to reopen the hill and be forced to park in the back parking lot because the crowd was so large.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park, which suffered through a much harsher December and January than we did, had the wisdom to operate seven days a week when they were finally able to open. Clark is considered a hero down there as the cash registers take in Oregonian dollars on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Wistfully gazing up at our mountain, covered with fresh powder on the closure days, is more painful than looking at a pretty woman that you cannot kiss. When Mt. A management decided to shut down operations in April, there was an 80-inch to 150-inch snow pack and a large crowd of bemused skiers and riders asking this question: "What is up with Mt. A management?"

Pete Toogood


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