At Royal Mountain Ski Resort on Sunday, smooth powder was replaced with chunks of dirt, and the scraping of ski poles against the snow was replaced with the buzzing of dirt bike engines.
Competitors from across the Northeast made their way to Royal Mountain this weekend for the 35th year of the Hill Climb, an event in which dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle riders attempt to drive 600 feet up the lodge’s steepest ski hill. Participants ranged in age from about 6 to 60, most of whom had been a part of the event in Caroga Lake before.
“We had to find something to do with the ski area in the off-season, since the lodge is open year-round,” Royal Mountain owner Jim Blaise said.
The Hill Climb grows in popularity each year, he said, and this year attracted about 200 riders. Participants are spread across 20 classes, which are based on the rider’s age and bike size.
Riders hailed from Sharon Springs, Little Falls, Johnstown, Rotterdam and points in Central New York, while many came from out of state, including riders from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maine.
The climb is held on “The Royal,” which is Royal Mountain’s expert ski slope in the winter. One at a time, riders revved their engines from the base, kicked up a cloud of dust and surged up the hill, hitting a few dirt mounds along the way to try to pick up speed.
Wayne Wnuk, a participant from Amsterdam, rode in the senior 450 cc division. He’s been coming to the event for the past 12 years, he said, and participates in other motocross events around the state.
Wnuk rides for a cause, raising money before and after each event for breast…
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