HELENA -- The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club has been around the Helena area for the better part of 30 years, but this year has not been kind to the club. Secretary for the club, Robert Ray, said this year membership for the club has dropped by nearly 30%, which has put a financial strain on its ability to keep up the skiing trails.
"We usually did a community night at one of the breweries in order to do our fundraising kickoff," said Ray. "We weren't able to do that this year, we decided that ... it was too dangerous to try and gather."
Ray said in a normal year, the club will raise a few thousand dollars during its fundraiser to help offset some of the costs to run the club and maintain the trails on top of MacDonald Pass, a spot that the club helps take care of under a Forest Service agreement. But with a limited number of members, the club has had to cut back.
“We have to cut back on if, in fact, we don't get the kind of funds that we normally get. It means cutting back on either equipment maintenance or the number of days that we can groom up here. It just means a diminishment in the services that we provide," Ray said.
For Ray, a nordic skier of more than 45 years, the sport is one of the easiest to get into because of the relatively cheap barrier of entry.
"It's not a terribly expensive sport, which is one of the reasons that I got into it many years ago. You don't need a trail pass, you don't have to pay for a lift ticket," said Ray. "A pair of skis can -- you can rent them in town for very inexpensively. A complete setup is maybe $200-300 max, and with that you're good to go."
To learn more about the Last Chance Nordic Ski Club, you can find its Facebook and its website by clicking the links below.