Lack of Snow Affects Businesses

WILLAMETTE PASS, Ore. — The Willamette Pass Ski Resort is still not open, and it’s leaving a lot of businesses in the area high and dry.

Normally at this time of the year, skiers and snowboarders would be heading down the slopes at Willamette Pass, but the resort is not open yet because of the dry winter and businesses 30 miles away are feeling the impacts.

Instead of the ski slopes being covered in white, powdery snow, you can still see grass and the parking lot at the ski resort still sits empty.

“This is actually a record year. There’s been some light years, but as far as that cold that’s came and the lack of snow, it’s definitely I haven’t seen it in my lifetime,” said Matthew Altemus, Oregon Outdoor Sports Manager.

But it’s not just the ski resort that’s being impacted by this dry winter weather. Both motels and outdoor sports rental shops in Oakridge say business isn’t what they’d expect at this time of the year.

“Our biggest thing is people are coming up to snow shoe in or cross country ski. They’ll stage here their first night, and then they’ll cross country ski or snow shoe into the Warner Mountain. We’ve gotten a few of those in the past couple of years,” said Candis Michaels, Blue Wolf Motel Manager.

“In the winter we have snowmobiling and skis and snowboards…but the snowmobiling is definitely not a go so far,” Altemus said.

Without the snow, the businesses are finding other ways to attract customers. The hotel’s working with more workers traveling through town.

“What’s saving us is our flexibility in order to kind of morph to the crowd, you know, whatever somebody needs. We’re willing to work with it,” Michaels said.

The Outdoor Sports Shop is still renting out equipment that usually isn’t used at this time of the year.

“Right now we’re just renting out the four-wheelers and the dirt bikes,” Altemus said.

Businesses are hopeful the flakes will start falling soon and the customers will start heading out to play winter sports.

“I’m expecting the end of January we should get a good dump, and then it’s going be a short season I think though as well,” Altemus said.

Businesses are hopeful the snow will start falling soon and then skiers will flock to the slopes.

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