The Sugarloaf Holiday Hill Climb begins at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at the bottom of the SuperQuad chairlift and ends one mile and 1,200 vertical feet later at Bullwinkles Restaurant.

The race is sponsored by the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association, and is the first of two randonee races at Sugarloaf this season.

Nina Silitch, Holiday Hill Climb organizer, said that in randonee, skiers ascend the mountain under their own power through the use of specialized bindings and climbing skins, which allow the skis to grip the snow while climbing.

The specialized gear and technique allow skiers to climb uphill as well as ski down, freeing them from chairlifts and opening the entire alpine world.

Silitch is a member of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Team (who knew such exists?) and will conduct a randonee clinic with Ski Mountaineering coach Pete Swenson 10 a.m. to noon on race day.

Racers can compete in the Sugarloaf event using randonee, telemark or Nordic equipment, or on snowshoes.

The event will be followed by a pasta dinner at the Sugarloaf Inn, an awards ceremony and a slide show of randonee skiing and racing in the Alps.

"Ski mountaineering or randonee skiing has its roots in the European Alps but it's growing fast here in the states," Silitch said. "Night rando races are fun events that bring folks together on the slopes and then after at the post race meal. Sugarloaf is the perfect place to host this kind of event and kick off the New England series. In this race, we hope to help spread the word about this up and coming sport and encourage all levels, especially newcomers, to come and give it a try. The clinic will give them a chance to learn about what equipment is needed and how to use it."

Sugarloaf is also planning a second uphill race for the spring.

Visit OnTheSnow.com's 2008 Holiday Guide for a library of news stories and features about special holiday events from visits by Santa (even his reindeer) to where the best parties are planned for New Year's Eve at the world's mountain resorts.