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Skiers challenge ‘The Hump’ for charity

Feb. 10, 2011

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

For the 24th year in a row, backcountry skiers will take to the deep woods and steep slopes of Camel’s Hump, participating in an adventurous tour for a good cause. The annual Camel’s Hump Challenge takes place this Sunday and all money raised goes toward the Alzheimer’s Association, Vermont Chapter.

Williston resident and winter sports enthusiast Tony Shaw said he looks forward to participating in the full-day event on Feb. 13. With deep snows blanketing the slopes of the 4,083-foot mountain, Shaw said the Challenge could be an
epic experience.

“It’s a great opportunity to commit to a full day of skiing,” said Shaw, who will join his wife, Joan Shaw, along the route.

Roughly 80 skiers have already signed up to take part and spots remain for more entrants, said Ashley Witzenberger, development and special events director for Vermont’s Alzheimer’s Association, located in Williston. All participants must collect at least 10 pledges or raise $125, all of which funds Alzheimer’s Association programs in Vermont, Witzenberger said. Last year, the event raised approximately $18,000, she said.

The event is not easy. The 13-mile track circles the mountain through much of Camel’s Hump State Park and certainly earns its reputation as a true challenge, said event committee member Jared Poor.

Skiers begin at the Camel’s Hump Nordic Ski Area in Huntington and follow a specially marked path set by event planners.

Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation allows planners to blaze the ski trail once a year for the challenge, with the route not intended as a public way, Poor said.

“This is a one-time-a-year thing,” he said.

The route features a few stiff climbs as it follows the rugged contours of Camel’s Hump. Poor said a certified EMT patrols the trail to help any skiers who run into trouble.

“My advice for anyone who’s thinking of skiing this is to be comfortable in your ability and be confident that you can really do it,” Poor said. “It’s not just a walk in the park.”

But while ski navigation is hard, Poor said the views and chance to ski among the silent, paper birch woods makes the difficulty worthwhile.

Since the route takes between five and eight hours for most skiers to complete, the start time is early – 7:30 a.m. At the end of the day, skiers can attend a small celebration where they have a chance to win various prizes, including outdoor gear, Witzenberger said.

Shaw, who participated in the Challenge 10 years ago, said he’s excited to revisit the mountain this weekend.

“The trail hasn’t changed in 10 years and my skis haven’t changed in 10 years, so I should be OK,” Shaw said.

For more information about the Camel’s Hump Challenge, contact Ashley Witzenberger at the Alzheimer’s Association at 316-3839 or ashley.witzenberger@alz.org, or visit the event website at www.camelshumpchallenge.com.