Mt.Ashland, Oregon
High on Adventure


In Four Directions...North, South, East, West
Story and Photos by Larry Turner

            People who can walk out their front or back door and access a ski lift, or even drive a few blocks or miles for that privilege are those among us who are extremely fortunate. In my neck of the woods (Malin, OR, on the California border), that drive is 100 miles. I can select any principal compass direction (north, south, east, west) and access a ski/snowboard mountain...three in Oregon (Willamette, Mount Ashland, Warner Canyon) and one in California (Mount Shasta). I have season passes for three of these mountains - Willamette, Mount Ashland, and Mount Shasta.
NORTH: Willamette Pass Resort

  Willamette Pass Resort   Willamette Pass Resort  
  Willamette Pass Resort   Willamette Pass Resort  
  Willamette Pass Resort   Willamette Pass Resort  
  Willamette Pass Resort   Willamette Pass Resort   Willamette Pass Resort  

            Willamette Pass Ski and Board Resort ( occupies 555 acres (half which are groomed) in the far northern part of my home county of Klamath in Oregon. While my tiny hometown of Malin sits on the California border, Willamette Pass borders Lane County, Oregon. Eugene is but an hour away and Oakridge half an hour away. Picturesque Odell Lake—a thrilling view from many of the 29 runs—occupies and frames Willamette’s west side. Annual snowfall is in the 400-plus inch range. Along with downhill skiing and snowboarding, Willamette also has 20 kilometers of cross country ski trails. The four chair lifts include the longest and fastest in the state, a six-seater. I love the natural beauty of the resort, along with the ample elbow room, especially when skiing the mountain’s north face backside trails.
Day passes are well under $100 and if you are a super senior (75 and above), you ski for free. Yahoo! The mountain is open Wednesday through Sunday. At this writing, Willamette sent out a 20 inch new powder alert. They do that quite often, and if you are a powder hound, this is the perfect place to go. From home, I drive 100 miles due north to Willamette, following Klamath Lake along Highway 97.
WEST: Mount Ashland

  Mount Ashland skiing   Mount Ashland skiing  
  Mount Ashland skiing   Mount Ashland skiing  
  Mount Ashland skiing   Mount Ashland skiing   Mount Ashland skiing  

            Mount Ashland Ski Park is unique as it is a 501(C)3 non-profit owned by the generous folks of Ashland, Oregon, and those living in the surrounding area. It has been in operation since 1964, is located nine miles from the California border and 20 miles from Ashland, a charming small city in Jackson County, noted for its theaters (including America’s first Elizabethan Shakespeare Theater). The city of Ashland has a lively art, food, and music scene. After a robust day of skiing, you can be pampered and soothed by many of its ( offerings, including ice skating in beautiful Lithia Park.

            My alma mater Southern Oregon University is in Ashland. I fondly remember skiing the mountain back in the 1960s and 1970s. Every year I drive 100 miles west of home to ski this challenging mountain, made up of mainly intermediate and expert runs. Ashland has a nice combination of groomed and non-groomed trails, and there is plenty of off-piste terrain. On the summit of Mount Ashland, the views are stupendous, offering 360 degrees of visual magic, including Mount Shasta, California country, Mount McLoughlin, OR, and the enchanting remotes of both Oregon and California mountainous country, including considerable wilderness.

            Mount Ashland ski and board prices are very fair, well under $100, and folks 70 or older ski for free. Another yahoo!
SOUTH: Mount Shasta

  Mount Shasta skiing   Mount Shasta skiing  
  Mount Shasta skiing   Mount Shasta skiing  
  Mount Shasta skiing    
  Mount Shasta skiing   Mount Shasta skiing   Skiing Mount Shasta  
      Mount Shasta skiing   Mount Shasta skiing  

      Of all of these four ski areas, Mount Shasta Ski Park ( is my fave as it is my home mountain and the mountain that I know the best. And this year, it is especially my fave as it has opened the new terrain of Gray Butte, east of the primary resort trails, offering 500 acres of groomed (six trails) and ungroomed terrain. Last month, my nephew Max Crawford and I skied it for the first time. It is a bit challenging to get to it (we skied a double black diamond to access it off of Coyote Lift) but it is well worth it. Our day was spent in fresh snow under bluebird skies with snow ghosts everywhere. It has a new quad chair that takes ten minutes to get to the unloading area. All of the runs are intermediate and expert. Getting out of Gray Butte is a bit tricky and requires speed to access the near flat run-out to the main resort area. Your cross-country ski techniques will serve you for this trek. If you’re a snowboarder, it is best just to take your board off and hoof it. I’m sure that Mount Shasta Ski Park is actively seeking a remedy for this which hopefully will be in place for the next season. One plus because of the flat run-out - there are fewer folks on these Gray Butte slopes.

            Mount Shasta is open seven days a week with night skiing Fridays until 7pm and Saturday to 6pm. Mount Shasta is more expensive than the other three areas with tickets ranging from $60 to $100. Veterans, active and retired military rates are $50 a day. Season tickets are $400, seniors aged 60-84, $150, and golden senior (85 or over) for free. That’s a good enough reason to live to 85.

            Shasta is part of the Indy Pass ( program which is well worth considering as it includes many resorts in a wide variety of states.

            When skiing Shasta, lodging can be secured in the surrounding communities of Mount Shasta City, McCloud (my personal favorite), Dunsmuir and Weed. Shasta is a hundred miles from home, so I generally drive and return the same day.
EAST: Warner Canyon

  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing  
  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing  
  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing  
  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing  
  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing  
  Warner Canyon skiing   Warner Canyon skiing Warner Canyon skiing    

      Very few skiers and boarders have heard of this lovely little ski area of Warner Canyon ( known for powder and its down-home character. Like the other ski areas in this story, it is 100 miles (east) from my home whether the crow flies or not. Outside of Lakeview, Oregon, it is located on the Winnemucca to the Sea Highway 140. I’ve skied it sparingly, but each time it has been blissful.

            It is truly a local’s ski/board area. The citizens of Lake County own it. Established in 1938, it has produced one Olympic medalist in Jean Saubert ( who took a silver (giant slalom) and bronze (slalom) in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. She earned two of America’s six medals.

            The locals' own words best describe Warner Canyon: “Warner Canyon is an old fashion ski hill founded in the spirit of the old west, created and run by local volunteers where the only goal was having some fun during the long cold winter. Because we strive to keep costs to an absolute minimum, our carbon foot-print is relatively low. Our lodge is heated by solar and woody biomass sustainably harvested from our property. We don’t waste precious water and energy on snow-making, but rather rely on the snow that God provides. We rebuild parts for our lift whenever we can and reuse, manufacture and fix everything else. Even our lift was bought from another resort and is enjoying a second useful life in Lakeview. When we can’t reuse, we recycle what we can in a rural setting.”

            Warner Canyon is usually open only on the weekends, but they do open up to seven days a week depending on holiday and snow conditions. Where else can you ski a day for $35 and less? Last year a day pass cost me $15.

            No matter which direction I look from my hometown, all four compass directions offer a 100-mile drive, a ski/board area, and a guaranteed memorable day of adventure and fun.


  Larry Turner is a productive, respected regional, national and international photographer/writer. His work has appeared in countless magazines and books, including Browntrout and Avalanche Publishers' calendars and books, American Heritage, National Geographic Traveler, Travel and Leisure, Sunset and many others. He is the co-author of the book Mount Shasta Reflections, and his photographs have appeared on covers of many books and magazines.  He is an active skier, gardener, fly fisherman,  and adventurer. His greatest love is spending time with his son Steen, Chef de Cuisine of the Cafe Kandahar in Whitefish, Montana.   Larry Turner