Locals hit the slopes of Mt. Ashland

MT. ASHLAND, Ore. — Locals are hitting the slopes after Mount Ashland Ski Area’s surprise opening Sunday.

“I have yet to find a trail that I didn’t smile all the way down,” Hiram Towle, general manager, said.

Just over 400 people hit the slopes on opening day, with barely a day’s notice. While Sunday’s conditions were a bit wet, Monday’s weather had even more people hitting the mountain.

“Bluebird day. The clouds are below us. It’s wonderful,” Isaiah McLanahan, Medford resident, said.

Hundreds grabbed their skis and boards and headed up the mountain, a week earlier than expected.

“We are proud to say that at this moment with a 26 inch base we have the deepest base snow pack of any ski area in the pacific northwest right now,” Towle said.

The Thanksgiving snow storm gave the mountain 21 inches of snow, but it wasn’t what management says it needed.

“There’s rocks under there and if you have light, fluffy powder, you just go through it. This nice heavy base-builder is what really got us open with some really good quality skiing and riding,” Towle said.

Winter break is one of the biggest economic drivers for the non-profit mountain, so getting open now will help it’s bottom line.

“When we can open for skiing and riding here, we are going to do that as best we can, as early as we can,” Towle said.

And that’s just what locals were hoping for.

“Ashland is my mountain. I love it,” McLanahan said.

Mount Ashland will be closed Tuesday and Thursday and will re-open Thursday.  Due to strong winds, the upper mountain remains closed.

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