Winter Outing Club trips are an entirely different beast than any other time of year. With the blankets of snow covering the ground come a set of issues that uniquely challenge leaders. Andrew Jillings, director of Outdoor Leadership, and eight students embarked early on Jan. 27 for a weekend-long training session that would equip them to address these challenges. Jared Mandelbaum ’18, Jack Gumina ’19, Sarah Stigberg ’20, James Southwick ’20, Keith Ruggles ’20, Mike Moubarak ’21, Sean Conroy ’21, and Hans Wydler ’21 joined Jillings for the enriching experience.

As the group soon learned, everything takes much longer in the winter. More frequent breaks to de-layer, hydrate, and snack are all essential to maintaining energy and heat in the winter. Packing the van is more like playing Tetris and organizing gear requires much more thought. The intrepid group loaded the Outing Club van with snowshoes, sleds, and full packs before making the hour-long drive to the Tug Hill Plateau in Turin, N.Y.

Tug Hill was the ideal location for the weekend of winter camping training because of the lake effect snow that it receives and its relative proximity to campus. The lake effect ensured that there would be plenty of snow on a warm, rainy day. The warmth, unlike the rain, did not stick around and temperatures dropped as night fell upon the camp. Maintaining a high core temperature is essential during exposure to the cold and the experience demonstrated the importance of being prepared to respond when your day trip turns into an overnight.

The newly minted winter leaders soaked up any and all information from Jillings. “We seized the opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge that Andrew has,” said Jack Gumina ’19. “We’re very fortunate to have him as a resource for the Outing Club.” Among his teachings, Jillings demonstrated the different applications of snowshoes, crampons, and microspikes to familiarize his pupils with the accessories that they would consider for their trips.

There will be another session of the training facilitated by the Outing Club the weekend of Feb. 10 and 11. Reach out to the Outing Club at hocon@hamilton.edu if you are a student interested in participating.

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