ashland.news
July 18, 2024

Gearing up: Skiers, snowboarders descend upon Ashland Ski Swap

Fenneus Bywater looks at skis Saturday with his brother Wren, left, and father David at the Ashland Ski and Gear Swap at SOU. Rogue Valley Times photo by Andy Atkinson
December 19, 2023

By James Sloan, Rogue Valley Times

Piled high with ski boots, snowboards and other snow apparel, Southern Oregon’s Stevenson Union building was packed with people Saturday morning looking to purchase fresh equipment at the annual Ashland Ski Swap.

While nearby Mt. Ashland Ski Area remains closed until the mountain receives a healthy dose of new powder, many ski swap attendees were eager to buy gear for the upcoming season.

Father David Bywater and sons Finneus and Wren of Ashland were pumped to find new skis to carve with, with both sons set to compete in the Southern Oregon Ski Education Foundation’s ski league.

Snow enthusiasts check out boots Saturday at the Ashland Ski and Gear Swap at SOU. Rogue Valley Times photo by Andy Atkinson

“I’m looking for some new skis for the beginning of the season,” 14-year-old Wren Bywater said. “We heard about this because the ski team told us about it to come and get some skis, and we waited in line for a while and just got in.”

With the new snow gear, the only thing the Bywaters are waiting for is opening day at Mt. Ashland.

“We’re a family of skiers and we basically go up every weekend … so we’ll be up there a lot this year,” David Bywater said. “We’re hoping that the snow comes soon hopefully before Christmas, we’ll see if that actually happens.”

Waiting in line and seeking new skis, Emily Waters and son Michael Waters of Medford were excited to check out the selection of equipment.

“I didn’t expect it to be so busy this year, but we should be in soon,” Emily Waters said.

“I really like skiing,” 9-year-old Michael Waters said. “I like to go fast.”

Running for more than 50 years, the Ashland ski swap offers a consignment sale with used gear ranging from snow boots to ski poles. The event is managed by Phoenix’s Indigo Creek Outfitters with the aid of the Southern Oregon University Outdoor Program.

The ski swap runs picks back up from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Snow enthusiasts check out snowboards Saturday at the Ashland Ski and Gear Swap at SOU. Rogue Valley Times photo by Andy Atkinson

“We get people who have equipment that’s unused out of their garage or closet or kids growing out of equipment and getting it back into the hands of people that need it at really affordable prices,” said Willie Long, assistant director of the SOU Outdoor program and organizer for the ski swap. “In light of sustainability, it’s really cool seeing this swap and the amount of used equipment that comes in.”

“The unfortunate truth is that a lot of these activities are prohibitively expensive for a lot of people,” said Indigo Creek Outfitters owner Will Volpert, adding, “eliminating those barriers to entry on the gear side of things is really important to getting the people, especially young kids, up in the mountains.”

The SOU Outdoor Program receives 20% of ski swap proceeds.

“The proceeds that we get from the swap go to paying the student employees, to buying new equipment for the outdoor program and getting students out on adventure trips,” Long said.

More information
To receive updates on Mt. Ashland’s status and other details, visit mtashland.com/mountain-report.
To learn more about the Ashland ski swap, visit ashlandskiswap.com.

The program puts on an array of active, outdoors-centered events from whitewater rafting trips to themed climbing nights to yoga.

“The most important thing for our program is that there’s no experience required (to participate),” Long said. “The trips that we’re running are for people that don’t have experience.”

As excited as many attendees were to get out on the ski trails, Mt. Ashland needs more snow before the ski resort can open to the public.

“Unfortunately for Mt. Ashland and a lot of other areas, there’s not really a high snow level (currently),” said meteorologist Miles Bliss of the National Weather Service in Medford.

The local mountain received around 10 inches of snow between Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, but it wasn’t enough to open for the season.

“Currently in the Mt. Ashland area it’s generally below normal (snowfall), where as in the Cascades, they kind of have some pockets of above normal and some near normal,” Bliss said.

A key to gaining new powder at the local mountain involves southern winds rolling through the Siskiyou Mountains.

“The Siskiyous are what Mt. Ashland is apart of; it really thrives when there are shearing winds from the south to southwest,” Bliss said. “The winds are important because the more perpendicular they are to mountain chain … the more it really encourages snowfall when a system rolls through.”

Reach reporter James Sloan at jsloan@rv-times.com. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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