Weather puts end to hopes for ski season

For the first time in its 50-year history, Mt. Ashland Ski Area won't open for the ski season.

Ski area officials threw in the towel on the 2013-14 season Friday after less than a foot of snow sat at the base. It's the worst snowpack Mount Ashland has seen since snow surveys began in 1963.

"This was a record that we didn't want to break," ski area General Manager Kim Clark said.

The ski area will survive the disastrous season, but likely will reopen next winter as a scaled-back version of its former self, Clark said.

Lines could be longer to buy lunch or rent ski and snowboard equipment, for example, because of fewer employees, he said.

The ski area is applying for a Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loan, Clark said, but he declined to provide the amount.

Under the terms of season pass sales, the ski area is not obligated to give out refunds. But the Mt. Ashland Association board decided on two options for pass holders to help alleviate their financial loss.

They can either return their passes to the ski area as a tax-deductible donation before April 30 or get a 50 percent discount on next year's pass.

Those who opt for a tax deduction will receive a letter acknowledging the donation, ski area officials said.

Clark said it would be most financially beneficial to Mt. Ashland for pass holders to return their passes as tax-deductible donations.

"For anyone who wants to donate their season pass, we're strongly encouraging that. That has the best economic impact and will help keep the ski area locally owned," he said.

Mt. Shasta Ski Park in Northern California, which closed early because of a lack of snow, is allowing its season pass holders to roll over their passes to next winter for a small administrative fee.

Clark said the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, as a nonprofit, cannot match the financial decisions of privately held ski areas.

People who bought ticket vouchers will be able to use those tickets next season at 100 percent of the value. The ski area will not give cash refunds, he said.

The state of California has declared a severe drought disaster. Counties in Oregon, Nevada and Arizona that border California are eligible for drought disaster help, Clark said.

The Mt. Ashland Association has not formalized any plans for a fundraiser to help make up for season losses, he said.

Mt. Ashland Association Board of Directors President Lisa Beam said being in a weather-dependent business is always risky.

"We've been looking for ways to move forward from this historic event. We have developed some options for our season pass holders that will provide tremendous value while still protecting our non-profit ski area's bottom line so the mountain will be here for our community in the future," she said in a statement.

To donate a season pass or request a 50 percent discount for next season, call the ski area's business office after April 1 at 541-482-2897 or send an email to

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at

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