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Mount Ashland ski area workers wish for wetness

Supporters and staff at the Mount Ashland ski area are repeating an old mantra: Think snow.

November's warm and dry weather melted plans for a Thanksgiving opening, and now mountain management is pondering whether even a Christmas opening is likely.

We're looking at needing two major storms before we can open, said Ski Ashland's marketing director, Gene Landsmann. If we get a big storm, we could open with just one ' if it's major enough ' so, think snow.

Mount Ashland's average opening day is Dec. 10. The latest opening date for the mountain was on Jan. 29, 1978.

I'll really start worrying if we don't open by Dec. 15, Landsmann said. Missing Thanksgiving is one thing ' that would have been a bonus. But we don't want to lose Christmas.

What the weather holds in future weeks is anyone's guess, but in the meantime, it's not like skiers and snowboarders have many regional options.

Scott Ferguson, marketing director for Mount Shasta Board and Ski Park, bemoaned the complete absence of snow on his mountain, which has in the past served as competition for Mount Ashland.

We're not even close to open. We're skiing volcanic dust down here ' and that's the only powder I can offer, Ferguson said. Mount Shasta typically opens by December 7, and stays open until mid-April.

Ferguson said ski staff are getting edgy, and like Mount Ashland, they are hoping for that one big dump that could make or break the season's finances.