Ski Committee's Winter School FAQ's

Which workshop section is right for me?

All ski sections are conducted at Cardigan. Ski trails offer back-country conditions, meaning varied snow types (sometimes deep and fluffy, sometimes hard and icy – always trees and rocks - it IS New England, after all!). The goals of the weekend workshop are to have fun while learning how to improve your skiing!

PLEASE NOTE! You MUST bring skis, boots, and poles with you if you intend to be in a Ski Section! Neither the Workshop nor Cardigan Lodge has any ski gear to loan/borrow! Makes for “tough sledding” if you don’t have skis…!

New to Nordic (cross-country) skiing? Been out a few times at X/C centers or on the local golf course? The Intro Level Backcountry 101 section is just right for you!

Ready to rip down icy chutes? Skied the West Buttress in January? We want you to come ski with us! Check out what we offer for trips and telemark clinics at the ski committee page and join in! For these workshops you can stay home and drink heavily. Read “Accidents in North American Mountaineering” and laugh.

Comfortable spending all day on skis in the woods? Feel ready to move up into the mountains to ski some of the steep stuff? Believe that you’ve “skied out” your favorite downhill/front-country area? Want to make your own tracks? The Down Mountain section will teach you what’s different “out of bounds” and offer some techniques that will help you tackle steeper terrain!

Don’t fit into the above categories? Been Nordic skiing for several years in varied conditions? Looking to move from ½ day tours to all-day excursions? Ready to leave the flat, groomed trails behind? The Intermediate Touring section is where you belong!

STILL not sure? Email [Click to reveal email] and we’ll find the right group for you!

What do I need for ski equipment?

DON’T RUN OUT AND BUY SOMETHING NEW! Use this workshop to help decide what type of gear you might want. MOST types of cross-country ski gear will work at Cardigan, particularly in the B/C 101 and Intermediate sections. SKATE skis and ALPINE skis are about the only type of gear we would not suggest.

ALL PARTICIPANTS need an adequately-sized daypack (Waist Packs aren’t big enough) to carry their food and water, extra layers of clothing, and a portion of the group (shared) gear. Remember goggles and sunglasses!

For the B/C 101 and Intermediate Touring groups: a heavier (stronger), wider (more “floatation”) ski, often equipped with metal edges, is what is most commonly used. Ski bases are typically “fish scale” – “waxless”. Boots resemble hiking boots – good ankle support and more insulation. Bindings need to be sturdy – a BC-NNN (“Back Country – New Nordic Norm”) works fine, as does a good metal (vs plastic or nylon) 75mm 3-pin or “duckbill”. Already have adjustable hiking poles? Add some snow baskets and bring them along! Again, please don’t go buy something! Check with us to see if what you already have will be fine for the workshop!

The Down Mountain group needs down-mountain skis, boots, and bindings. Wider, shaped skis; full metal edges; plastic or heavy leather boots; cable (or AT) binding; adjustable poles; climbing skins are what we look for here. Helmets and knee pads are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Can I rent backcountry ski gear?

YES! But NOT from us… Renting is a great option, rather than buying new stuff. It allows you to try some different types of gear before you drop the bucks for something new (to you, anyway). REI and EMS both rent backcountry skis, as do some local ski shops (Piche’s in Gilford, NH). PLEASE contact us to help decide what type of gear you should be renting for the workshop. It does vary based on which section you might be in for the weekend. After checking with us you can check with the various ski shops to see if they do rent what you will need for the workshop.

Can I learn to Tele here?

Valid question… Telemark is one of MANY types of turns we do cover in each section. If your goal is to learn the telemark turn, we might suggest you join us for our telemark clinics we hold about twice a month at a local lift-service area throughout the winter. This way you save your leg muscles for learnin’ the turnin’, and not burn them out climbing back up repeatedly! Check out ski committee page or email [Click to reveal email] to find the details for these clinics.

I’m a good alpine skier, but haven’t been skiing in the backcountry…

These workshop sections should be beneficial to you! The skiing itself is only 1 of many skills we work on over the course of the weekend. Much of our time both inside and on the snow is spent discussing travel in the winter woods, what to take, how to pack it, how to dress for winter excursions, and how to handle backcountry emergencies that may arise. Proficient alpine skiers who have only limited winter hiking experience and who haven’t been on Nordic gear or who have limited Nordic experience should consider the Intro or Intermediate sections. Alpine skiers looking to learn to ski the steep should either be on AT (Alpine Touring) gear or have attended a telemark workshop (See “Can I learn to Tele here?” question above…) prior to taking this section. Again, contact us and we’ll help you sort out which section is right for you!

What if we don’t have snow?

First off – the workshops are held “rain or shine” – meaning we go whatever the weather may bring! Just because there isn’t snow in your backyard doesn’t mean that Cardigan is likewise lacking! We instruct in backcountry travel for winter conditions – which is why you get such an extensive list of suggested items to bring for the weekend. On RARE occasions we have asked those signed up for Ski sections to bring (or we can often assist in providing) Snowshoes and Crampons. This IS New England! If we can’t ski on it, we can at least walk on or through it! In these cases we would try to contact you prior to the workshop. For previous workshops we’ve arrived to practically bare ground on Friday in the rain, and had it change to snow overnight, and finished the weekend with great conditions! Hence being prepared for anything! Think snow!

How come you don’t do longer trips during these workshops?

This is an educational workshop. Our goal as Instructors is to give the participants the skills they need so they can go out on winter trips. We are also trip leaders – which means we can let you know where and when you can join us for longer excursions. We may not cover a lot of miles, but participants often seem to be dragging by the end of each day – so expect a pretty good workout!

I have AT skis – can I use them?

Sure! AT gear is well-suited for the Down Mountain section.

I have a snowboard – do you have a section for me?

Hmmm…not yet… We recognize Backcountry snowboarding is gaining popularity, but none of our current Instructor pool has proficient boarding skills to offer such a section. This is not to say that you couldn’t benefit from a different section on Winter Wilderness Travel, as boarders often rely on snowshoes to get them up the mountains to ride down. As fellow winter travelers, you still should gain the knowledge to have a safe and enjoyable backcountry travel experience!

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