Mt. Ashland Ski Area celebrates snow

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area plans to operate all its chairlifts for the upcoming Presidents Day weekend after the biggest storm in two years dumped plentiful snow on the mountain.

The base snow depth was at 26 inches while upper snow depths reached 57 inches, according to measurements taken earlier this week.

While rain and heavy winds pummeled the Rogue Valley during a recent storm, the ski area picked up a surprising 21 to 31 inches of snow.

"The storm was forecast to be all rain and instead we received perfect base-building snow," said Ski Area General Manager Hiram Towle. "As a result, we now have excellent conditions for the upcoming holiday weekend."

The ski area is operating on its normal schedule of Thursdays through Mondays. With Presidents Day falling this coming Monday and students out of school, ski area workers are preparing for the coming skiers and snowboarders.The National Weather Services forecasts mostly clear to sunny weather Thursday through Monday.

"The weather is supposed to be fantastic. It should be a great weekend to be out in the fresh air and in the snow," said Jamie Schectman, director of sales and marketing for the ski area.

Along with the Christmas through New Year's Day school break and the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Presidents Day weekend is financially important to the ski area, Schectman said.

Visitation was off during the Christmas break because of low snow. The ski area had to close for a month as its snow pack dwindled — causing it to miss the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. It then re-opened Feb. 7.

The ski area was closed all last winter due to historically low snow. It took out a $750,000 Small Business Administration disaster loan to stay afloat.

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park in Northern California remains shuttered, with only five inches at the base and 10 inches higher up the mountain. In an effort to show solidarity with ski areas struggling with low snow, the Mt. Ashland Ski Area is offering $25 lift tickets to people who present lift tickets from other ski areas, ski managers said.

"We invite anyone with a season pass to another ski area, especially those that aren't able to operate this weekend, to visit us," Towle said.

In addition to the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, the Willamette Pass ski area outside Eugene, Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters and the Warner Canyon ski area outside Lakeview are among the Oregon resorts closed by low snow.The Mt. Bachelor resort has had plentiful snow and picked up another 19 inches during the past seven days.

For the latest Mt. Ashland Ski Area snow conditions, call the snow phone at 541-482-2754 or visit www.mtashland.com.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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