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July 23, 2024

Mt. Ashland Ski Area pushes back opening day, despite snowstorm

Andrew Gast, general manager of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, speaks Thursday as snow falls, but not enough to open for business. "It's snowing, which is fantastic," he said. "But as you can see, we've got a little ways to go." Mt. Ashland Ski Area video screenshot
December 7, 2023

Earlier snow had melted away; opening on a day-to-day basis pending accumulation of new

By Shaun Hall, Rogue Valley Times

Andrew Gast, general manager of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, had hoped that this Saturday would be opening day for skiing this season, but he admitted defeat on Thursday, despite the latest snowstorm.

Things are now day to day, while he, a couple hundred employees and untold numbers of skiers wait for more snow.

“We’ve got 10 inches here on the mountain,” Gast said in a video posted to the ski area’s social media page Thursday morning. “The bad news is we need between 24 and 30 inches.”

Heavy snow that fell Wednesday and early Thursday wasn’t enough.

“We still have a little ways to go,” Gast said. “So we’re not going to open on Saturday. We’re going to play it day by day.”

Snow falling at the ski area in the last couple weeks has come and gone and, now, come back again, with no major storms predicted for the next week, although near or below-freezing temperatures are expected on the mountain even during the day.

Last week, there was about 10 inches of snow on the ground at the ski area, but warmer weather and rain melted it all away. Heavy snow began again Wednesday and continued Thursday.

As Gast spoke, standing next to a snow-depth gauge at the ski area, snow fell.

“It’s snowing, which is fantastic,” he said. “Super stoked about that. Really glad to see white stuff on the ground compared to the brown that we had yesterday.”

Abigail Coombs, marketing coordinator for the ski area, said about 200 employees are on board and ready to get to work.

“We’re all pretty good to go,” she said. “Every department, as far as I know, is doing very well. We’ve been doing our training.”

Applications are still being accepted for openings that might occur. Not everyone wants to commute up a snowy mountain road to work.

“We’ve had a great number of applicants come in and a great number returning,” Coombs said. “We’re really glad to see the number of returners.”

“They do it for the love of the ski area and the snow. And the views, too.”

All but about 15 employees are seasonal.

Speaking on Wednesday, before the latest storm, Coombs said snow was needed for everyone to be trained up.

“Lifts need to do their training on the snow,” she said. “Our lift boys are waiting for snow so we can train up the lifties. Patrol needs to get up all of our signage. They were ready to do that all this week.”

Last weekend, about 500 people or more attended an open house at the lodge.

“Everybody was super and had a great time,” Coombs said. “The lodge was pretty full. It was pretty snowy outside.”

Alas, the snow didn’t stick around.

“Last weekend, the storm total was 10 inches,” Coombs said. “And then it got washed away.”

They got that 10 inches back with this week’s storm, but still need more.

“We’re on stand-by, waiting on Mother Nature.”

For updates, go to mtashland.com.

Reach Rogue Valley Times outdoors and environmental reporter Shaun Hall at 458-225-7179 or shall@rv-times.com. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

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Bert Etling

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

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