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Mt. Ashland (re)opens for season

Christmas storms dumped just enough good snow to keep the Mt. Ashland Ski Area open through the weekend, and continued cold temperatures should help the pray-for-snow crowd get a foothold on their new season.

The 11 inches that fell Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the ensuing mid-20s temperatures allowed the ski area to open two chairlifts Friday with a base depth of 19 inches to 32 inches, according to ski area staff.

"It's a little bit thin, but the quality is good," says Jamie Schectman, the ski area's director of sales and marketing. "People are jazzed about it."

Good crowds filed up the access road for Friday's noon opener to ride the Sonnet and Windsor chairlifts as crews worked to groom more slopes to get them accessible, Schectman says.

"A good chunk of the mountain is accessible now," Schectman says.

Plans are to operate those chairlifts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday, he says.

"Sunday afternoon we'll have a better idea for the week ahead," Schectman says. "We'll see how it skis this weekend."

Friday's late Christmas gift came six days after the ski area was open Dec. 19-20 but closed after warm rains munched away the snowpack, leaving the runs reminiscent of last year's poor snowpack conditions that kept the ski area shuttered.

But forecasters are far less foreboding after this second opener of the snow-sports season on Mt. Ashland.

The Siskiyou Mountains' snow levels are expected to remain below the ski area as a suite of cold fronts continue to move over Mount Ashland at least through the weekend.

The National Weather Service is predicting cold enough temperatures that skiers and snowboarders will continue to be able to use the snow the mountain's accumulated.

"It's much colder, so it'll block in what they already have," weather service meteorologist Tom Wright says. "Too bad they didn't have 3 or 4 feet before the cold temperatures hit."

That will follow Sunday with some mixing of clouds but probably no snow until late afternoon or early evening, Wright says.

"It doesn't look like terribly much for Mount Ashland," Wright says. "Probably a dusting. Maybe an inch."

The coldest weather of the season so far on the mountain will hit Monday, with cold and some snow forecast throughout the rest of the week, Wright says.

"The pattern is really volatile, but I think there's a chance they can get some snow later in the week," Wright says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

A skier hits up a rail at the terrain park at Mt. Ashland on Friday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch