The community has always come through for Mt. Ashland Ski Area. Originally opened in 1964, the beloved ski area faced closure in 1992, until the community stepped in to save it. A nonprofit community-owned venture ever since, Mt. Ashland has been a hotspot for skiers of all ages.
In recent years, its historic Tudor-style lodge begged for a facelift. Enter their $1.7 million renovation campaign, which was successfully completed in December 2017 — just in time for the season’s projected Dec. 9 opening. (A grand re-opening Snow Stomp celebration marks the occasion with live music, food and Oregon craft beer.)
Now with expanded space, visitors will enjoy shorter lines and better groomed trails, thanks to a new Sno-Cat. With the relocation of the rental shop to the ground floor, skiers no longer have to trek across the parking lot.
The same rustic, romantic vibe remains. Its romantic Shakespeare-themed runs and chairlifts — Romeo, Juliet, Tempest, Windsor and Falstaff — are a nod to its neighbor to the north, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (which kicks off its season in February).
“It’s got that really cool, funky vibe,” says Hiram Towle, the general manager, who moved to Oregon from Maine in 2013 after falling in love with the resort. “It’s not about corporate skiing,” he adds. “It’s about community mountains, where everybody knows each other and everybody high-fives each other.”
The ski area is known for its varied terrain and affordability; the 200 acres of terrain includes a 1,500-foot slope for beginners only, at just $10 per ticket for the 2017-18 season. The park’s four chairlifts provide access to 23 trails, open-bowl skiing and 40 acres of trails for night skiing.
And for advanced skiers, the steep slope — 7,533 feet with just 1,150 feet of vertical drop — doesn’t disappoint. “The bowl is a glacial cirque with steep chute skiing,” Towle explains. “If you look at Mt. Ashland from afar, it looks like a cinder cone (like nearby Pilot Rock, Mt. Shasta and Mt. McLoughlin.) But it was in fact caused by glacial activity. The terrain stands from that gentle Sonnet (lift) to these steep slopes, challenging the best skiers. It’s a short mountain, but every turn is worth it.”
Need more reasons to love Mt. Ashland? With solar panels that produce 12 percent of their annual energy use, a biodiesel snowcat fleet and other sustainable practices, Mt. Ashland is the world’s first ski area to be certified for its sustainability management. In May 2017, they were certified by an organization called STOKE Certified (Sustainable Tourism Operators Kit for Evaluation).
The forecasted La Nina weather pattern this year call for sweet conditions; last year’s La Nina brought 371 inches. Check out the live webcam for conditions and updates. (The season is projected to open Dec. 9, 2017.)