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Ski area to remain closed

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area will remain closed until further notice due to a dwindling snowpack and warm temperatures.

While local residents shiver in fog, cold temperatures and pollution trapped on the Rogue Valley floor, balmy 50 and 60 degree temperatures have hit Mount Ashland.

"There's a serious inversion going on. We lost more snow. We need Mother Nature to bring us more snow," Mt. Ashland Ski Area Director of Sales and Marketing Jamie Schectman said.

The snow base was down to 10 to 18 inches on Thursday.

The ski area is normally closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It was closed for those days this week, but also didn't reopen on Thursday.

Ski managers reassessed conditions on Thursday and decided the ski area would remain shuttered.

The National Weather Service is predicting a chance of rain or snow for the Siskiyou Mountains, which include Mount Ashland, on Sunday and Monday. Skies will be mostly clear Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Schectman said long range weather forecasts call for a return to stormy conditions.

"We still have a lot of season left. We're ready to flip the switch back on. We're eager," he said. "We thank everyone for their patience and support."

Last winter the ski area was unable to open due to a lack of snow.

Mt. Ashland Ski Area season pass holders who still want to hit the slopes this weekend can ski or snowboard for $25 at Mt. Shasta Ski Park in Northern California, Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters in northwest Oregon, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in eastern Oregon and Bluewood Ski Area in southeast Washington. The ski areas have reciprocal agreements for each others' season pass holders.

Meanwhile, the ski area fell short on an Internet crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000. The December campaign netted $15,490.

However, the ski area announced this week it received a $28,000 donation from the California-based company Lam Research Corp. The gift is a two-to-one match of a donation made by an employee who grew up spending time at the ski area with her family, ski area officials said.

The employee wanted to remain anonymous.

"The donor was inspired to support the Mt. Ashland Association right now because they knew we need our community’s support,” said the association’s development director, Michael Stringer. “The best part is that we are now able to move forward on some projects that we were worried might have to be shelved for the future.”

The ski area is planning lodge improvements, additions to the terrain park and added events. Managers also hope to relaunch a bus to transport skiers and snowboarders to the mountain.

“We simply cannot commit ski area revenue to anything outside of our core operations right now,” said Ski Area General Manager Hiram Towle. “But this gift — as well as the revenue from our recent crowd-funding campaign and even more from our generous donors — will enable us to move forward on some really exciting improvements.”

For updates on snow conditions and open days, visit www.mtashland.com or call the snow phone at 541-482-2754.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.