For the last week of winter break, a small group of Hamilton students set off into the Adirondack backcountry for five days of winter camping in New York’s High Peaks region.

The trip, run annually by the Hamilton Outing Club as a “Winter Camping Trip Leader Seminar,” is designed to teach club leaders how to camp, travel, and enjoy the mountains in the midst of deep snow and subzero temperatures. 

Each year, trip participants return to campus one week before the semester starts to meet with the trip leaders to discuss the challenges of winter camping and the finer points of planning for a snow-filled endeavor. 

After a day of on-campus preparation, the group heads up north to the Adirondack High Peaks for five days of backpacking among the snow-capped mountains before returning a few days before spring semester classes begin.

This year’s rendition of the seminar saw a group of six women who braved a wide variety of weather conditions while mastering the skills necessary to safely and effectively lead fun, enjoyable winter trips for the Hamilton community. 

Trip highlights included a snow-filled day hike to Avalanche Pass after a nighttime storm dropped almost a foot of snow on the High Peaks, a rainy day spent sipping hot cocoa and eating an assortment of delectable treats in the lean-to, and a blustery, icy hike to the spectacular views of Indian Falls.

While the beauty of the Adirondacks in winter is sure to be a highlight of any winter camping seminar, trip participants, such as Elisa Taylor ’20 noted that one of the most valuable parts of the trip was that it allowed participants to learn and apply all of the different skills required to have a successful and enjoyable winter experience. 

Taylor remarked that one of her favorite new skills was forged during a map, compass, and winter navigation lesson given by trip co-leader Gaby Pilson ’17.

Trip co-leader Elise LePage ’18 remarked that the Seminar is yet another opportunity to personally experience the beauty of the Adirondacks in the winter.  In addition, she noted, “One of my favorite parts of leading the Winter Camping Seminar is that it gives me the ability to share my skills and knowledge with the next generation of Outing Club Leaders.”

After the seminar, the Club’s newest winter leaders are ready to lead trips of their own, and to further extend the joys of the mountains in winters for years of snow-filled days to come.  For now, keep an eye out for Outing Club emails about upcoming winter trips, which include day hikes, ice climbing, telemark ski seminars, and more.

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