|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Going downhill fast

    Mt Ashland Ski Area may need a new public campaign to stay in business
  • As usual in Southern Oregon, spring arrives before the calendar says it should, with warming temperatures, blooming trees and daffodils, but one local tradition — spring skiing — is notably absent. Not only will there likely be no spring skiing this year, there wasn't any winter skiing either.
    • email print
  • As usual in Southern Oregon, spring arrives before the calendar says it should, with warming temperatures, blooming trees and daffodils, but one local tradition — spring skiing — is notably absent. Not only will there likely be no spring skiing this year, there wasn't any winter skiing either.
    Mt. Ashland Ski Area managers are expected to announce Friday what they will offer season pass holders who were unable to use their investment because the mountain never got enough snow to open. That decision may have considerable influence on whether the ski area can survive.
    The ski area is under no legal obligation to do anything at all. But if it does nothing, it may anger enough skiers to threaten its long-term survival.
    Longtime residents will recall the last time a stretch of dry weather nearly spelled the end for the ski area. About 25 years ago, three successive bad snow years prompted commercial operator Harbor Properties to decide to close the resort and move lift equipment to its other operations elsewhere in the Northwest.
    It took a concerted community effort in 1992 to raise $1.67 million and purchase the ski area, which has operated since as a publicly owned corporation. "Save Mt. Ashland" bumper stickers sold as part of that campaign can still be spotted on aging vehicles around the valley.
    A similar effort may be necessary again if the Mt. Ashland Ski Area cannot weather this economic blow. If one ski-less season is not enough to put it under, a second bad year surely would be. Forecasters are predicting an El Niño ocean current next winter, which often produces more rain in California but less precipitation here.
    Ski areas try to hold contingency funds in reserve to guard against insufficient snowfall. But in the case of Mt. Ashland, much of its available money has been spent in court, fighting opponents of the ski area's proposed expansion.
    Whether they intended to or not, those opponents may yet succeed in driving the ski area under with the help of the weather.
    In the face of potential disaster, ski area managers should offer some compensation to season pass holders in hopes of keeping their support.
    That could mean rolling the passes over to next season, as the Mt. Shasta ski area is doing. But Mt. Ashland may not be able to afford that — or even afford to open next season, assuming the weather cooperates. A less expensive option would be to offer pass holders discounts on next year's passes.
    Another possibility: Ask skiers to consider their unused passes a donation toward keeping the ski area open. That and much more may be necessary if the Mt. Ashland Ski Area is to survive.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar