Note: This article was written last year for the 2012 Hog Loppet. The information about preparation is still relevant, and we've updated the specific details for this year's race.
25th annual lopping of the Hogs takes place this year on Saturday, February 23. This year the numbers will be
capped at 600. That may not affect many but there will likely be a
few folks waiting to register the day of who will get turned away. Skiers can pre-register through the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club.
The 20-mile route between the Mission Ridge Ski Resort and Blewett Pass undulates along ridge crests, has a few sizable climbs, but also ends about 2,500 vertical fee lower than it started and has a gravity assist.
Each year the regional weather forecast misleads many of the 500 to 600 people participating in the outing. It's usually considerably colder and breezier, and often cloudier in the mountains where this event takes place than what people expect when they check the 'Wenatchee-area' weather.
Being properly prepared for the weather, is something first-timers frequently get wrong. Information about the event rarely elaborates how cold it can be in the morning as you ride ski lifts to the top of the Mission Ridge Ski Resort. Skiers in tights dressed for a workout rather than a mountain outing often suffer on that ride. In fact, they often suffer for the next hour as they thaw. Here’s some advice we gave to a first-time West-sider who asked about what to bring:
“The Hog Loppet starts with a chairlift ride to the top of Mission Ridge. It's usually freaking freezing at the hour of the morning we're sent off (before the downhill operation starts). Expect temperatures in the teens and a breeze…which means a down coat, a rain coat, and rain pants are all important if you don’t want to reach the top, blue-lipped and swearing about the freaking freezing temperatures. Such clothing is especially important if you’re bringing kids and 1) don’t want them whining (an ominous way to begin a long day) 2) want them more mobile than an ice cube when it’s time to exit the lift. Carry a day pack large enough to tote these layers once you’re five miles along, and sweating rather than freezing.”
This gear not only serves you well for the lift ride and rest stops, it’s important in the event of injury. Injuries do happen. Over the years, a few participants have broken their ankles and a few have even broken a leg. That's not to say this is a dangerous event but, with 500 people a year making a the sojourn, shtuff happens. In fact, if you consider the way in which Murphy (of Murphy's Law) attacks the ill-prepared, you can insure against ugly possibilities by coming properly equipped.
Recently we received this question about the Hog Loppet:
Q: My wife and I started skating this year and we’re advanced beginners. Should we skate the Hog Loppet or do it on classic skis?
A: By all means bring skate skis if you want to crash-and-burn on the first several miles of the descent, blow a heart valve on one of several long climbs, and if you want your wife to punish you psychologically for a month after the event. If you want to finish in one piece with a woman who still wishes to be married to you, go classic. Lots of skiers do skate the route but many biff multiple times on the first few miles of the route. Once they reach the road, they do cruise but they are good skaters. Do the skate-thing when you’ve got more miles under your bases and when your wife suggests you skate it.
Although it's cheaper, you don’t have to pre-register to participate in the Hog Loppet—you can sign-up the day of the event at the Mission Ridge Lodge between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.