Snowmaking starts for Extreme Hill Climb

BROWN COUNTY – River Valley Dutchmen Snowmobile Club members are making snow at Golden Gate Campground this weekend in preparation for the Extreme Hill Climb set for Saturday, Jan. 19.

While Mother Nature’s lack of snow got the best of this event in some recent years, it won’t happen this year. The Dutchmen assembled two snowmaking machines last week in order to ensure there is enough snow for the event, advertised as the first of its kind in Minnesota.

The top snowmobile hill climbers in the Midwest, including New Ulm’s masters division competitors Tim Stadick and Chuck Effenberger, will compete with other master professionals in the event that qualifies top finishers for the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb at Jackson Hole, Wyo.

A new hill is being built that will require snowmobilers to go through a series of gates as they try to scale a very steep hill and make it through a timing shoot at the top. If drivers hit any gate or do not go all the way through the timing shoot, they are placed in a “high mark” category.

Stadick said club members finished setting up its two snow-makers Friday afternoon. They will be at Golden Gate day and night this weekend, making snow during the day and ensuring the snow making machine pumps continue to operate at night.

He talked about the hill that required six club members to work 10 hours a day on four weekends to build it.

“It’s three to four times steeper than the hill we usually drag race on,” Stadick said. “It’s very unique, one of the steepest hills these guys will attempt. It’s 50 feet wide, 325 feet from top to bottom, with a 40-degree angle in the middle in front of a catwalk. The hill is very steep at the top, more than 50 degrees.”

Over the past 20 years, many drivers don’t make it all the way through the timing shoot, according to Masters Racing Circuit President Skip Schultz.

Stadick, racing a Ski-Doo, made it through the obstacles last year, qualifying for the World Championship. He’ll be joined by Jordan Stank of Madison, the Midwest’s highest World Championship qualifying driver, and Stank’s father Layne of Michigan, who also qualified for the World Championship.

Other World Championship qualifiers expected to compete at Golden Gate are Yamaha driver Jason Kleinschmidt and his son Michael plus Matt Cook of Green Bay on an Arctic Cat.

“All four snowmobile manufacturers will have their top hill climbers competing,” Schultz said. “With the man-made snow, new hill and gates set up, fans will enjoy this.”

Competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19. Competition concludes with King of the Hill runs at the end of the day. Fans can watch the competition from their vehicles by parking at the bottom of the hill. The public address system will be transmitted over an FM radio band.

Drivers are required to attend a meeting at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18, at the Railway Bar & Grill in Sleepy Eye. A drivers draw will determine competition order, and it’s the final chance to register.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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