RUMFORD — Despite having a large chunk of this winter's operating costs tied up in a court case, Black Mountain Ski Resort snow-makers made enough snow for Saturday night's Snowmobile Hill Climb.
General Manager Jim Carter said it wasn't easy, because the weather didn't cooperate, and then tossed in a heavy rainstorm last Sunday night into Monday.
“We started making snow on Nov. 20, and then the weather turned warmer,” he said prior to the 6 p.m. start of racing.
“After the rain, it was prime snow-making temperatures again," he said. "We've been running straight around the clock and when conditions are right during the day.”
Snowmobile racers had a base of 16 to 24 inches of man-made snow on the 250- to 300-yard course up the mountain. They would ride one at a time on an expert trail across from the lodge.
By 5:45 p.m., racers were being turned away at the registration table because they hadn't pre-registered. Sledders from all over New England were participating in the resort's biggest and first climb of the season.
There wasn't much to see from the small fenced-in area for the large crowd, because it was several yards behind the starting area where sledders would open up throttles to zip up the mountain.
Brandon and Erica Robin of Rumford brought their children, Kyle, 6, and Konnor, 4, to check out the action.
“We came out to watch the races because Konnor is obsessed with sleds,” Brandon Robin said. “He's hoping for a green one for Christmas.”
“I don't think it will fit in Santa's bag,” Erica Robin said.
Brandon said it was the family's first foray out to watch a hill-climb event. He said they usually try to make it out to resort events.
After the hill climb venue was set for snow, Carter said snow-makers focused their activities on the Nordic trails to get ready for the U.S. Cross Country Championships on Jan. 1-8.
That event is expected to attract 500 of the nation's best Nordic skiers and an entourage of 100 coaches, support staff, families and spectators.
Were it not for volunteers and thousands of dollars of in-kind donations to get the resort ready for the Nordic event and the season, the resort likely wouldn't have opened, Black Mountain board President Roger Arsenault told selectmen Thursday night.
Five days before the resort is expected to open for the season, Black Mountain still hadn't received the $51,000 that voters agreed to donate to the resort. The Oct. 13 vote was 405-370.
The money is tied up in a lawsuit filed in August, challenging the resort's use of the petition process to circumvent the defeat of its initial funding request at town meeting in June.
Despite the court case, Arsenault said resort staff and volunteers went ahead and got the resort ready for the season as best they could without the money.