Mt. Ashland plan for reopening this winter involves some major changes

Many of the normal services at Mt. Ashland will be closed this year as the ski area navigates coronavirus restrictions.

Posted: Oct 16, 2020 11:14 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. — There will be some substantial changes in place when Mt. Ashland reopens this winter, according to the new plan released on Friday.

The Mt. Ashland Board of Directors and ski area managers agreed on the new plan at an annual board meeting on October 12 after working to navigate the current coronavirus restrictions in place from the Oregon Health Authority and Governor Kate Brown.

"After much review, the Board and staff of the ski area made the difficult decision not to provide certain services. Given the regulations the organization faces at this time, managers felt the best course of action would be to focus on providing what they feel is the greatest impact on the community — providing and introducing new people to healthy winter recreation," Mt. Ashland said in a statement.

The restaurants, bar, and retail shop will be closed this year. There will be no seasonal locker rentals or lodge access for restrooms, warming, storage, or suiting up. Finally, there will be no night skiing available.

“We had to make some difficult decisions to safely utilize the limited space in the lodge," said general manager Hiram Towle. "Because we are committed to turning as many Rogue Valley residents as possible into skiers and snowboarders for life, we are prioritizing them.”

Other services will be altered to account for restrictions: Ski school will have limited capacity and smaller group sizes, lessons will not be available to anyone under the age of 7, all lessons must be reserved and paid for online at least two days in advance, and all rentals must be reserved and paid for online at least two days in advance.

Tickets must also be purchased online in advance, with no tickets available on-site. Face coverings will be required in places in the ski area where social distancing is not possible, and portable toilets will be placed in the parking lot to account for the lack of lodge access. The lodge itself will be limited to employees, rental customers, and ski school students.

"We are getting back to the basics, and back to the good old days when a trip to the mountain didn’t require burgers and french fries," Towle said. "When I first started skiing, my family often got dressed in the car, and mom sent us out on the hill with a sandwich in our pocket. On many days, we never saw the inside of the lodge. This year it will be all about the sport we love and being out on the mountain with friends and family.”

Mt. Ashland said that the decision was made based on safety and space limitations, alongside the financial impacts of running other services without being able to accommodate a lodge full of guests.

"Protecting the financial stability of the nonprofit community ski area in these incredibly uncertain times remains a top priority," Mt. Ashland continued. "Mt. Ashland is excited to offer skiing and snowboarding through this exciting winter to come, and with the possibility of a La Nina winter ahead, and are hopeful for a big snow year."

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