2020 Backcountry Ski/Ride Clinic

AMC offers COVID conscious opportunities to enjoy the outdoors locally, visit many of our lodges and campgrounds, and join virtual events and activities. Participants of all in-person events should bring and wear face coverings, expect social distancing, and changes to our usual practices. To support contact tracing and hands-free signing of the AMC liability waiver, online registration is required for all in person AMC events.

2020 Backcountry Ski/Ride Clinic Cardigan Lodge

February 7-9, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions


GENERAL QUESTIONS

HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS WORKSHOP IS RIGHT FOR ME?

The Backcountry Ski Workshop is targeted at skiers who want to break out of the track or get away from the lift! It is for people who want to do any or all of the following:

  • Become more proficient and comfortable on ungroomed trails
  • Make the transition from track skiing (on groomed trails) to the backcountry
  • Improve and extend backcountry skills
  • Hone backcountry telemark technique
  • Practice using your AT or splitboard equipment in the backcountry

This workshop will cover equipment and techniques for climbing uphill, turning downhill, navigation, and obstacle avoidance on the variety of trails around Mt. Cardigan. We will also cover gear, clothing, and techniques to travel safely in the backcountry.

There are only limited trails suitable for novice XC skiers. The Novice X-C Workshop, which covers basic XC track skiing skills, will not completely prepare you this workshop. You should have at least 2 seasons experience on X-C skis, know how to stop and turn, and be able to comfortably ski blue trails at an X-C center. This workshop provides a backcountry complement to the Novice/Intermediate Telemark Clinic.

 

WHAT WILL BE TAUGHT AT THIS WORKSHOP?

Saturday morning we will review uphill, touring, and downhill to help you hone and extend your skills. Saturday afternoon and Sunday we'll go on ski tours in groups during which we provide additional instruction on backcountry travel as we apply our skills to various new challenges. There will be additional opportunities to practice the basics and new skills at the end of the day.

The workshop is divided into three courses: 

  • Backcountry Touring track, which extends X-C techniques to the backcountry and teaches additional downhill skills:
  • Intermediate turning techniques - Telemark and other downhill techniques in backcountry conditions.
  • Fast and efficient backcountry travel - dealing with streams and logs, tricky snow conditions, waxing (maybe!)
  • Backcountry Savvy - Skills you need in the backcountry to keep you safe: map-reading, compass-reading, gear, dressing, etc.
  • Backcountry Telemark, which concentrates on the telemark turn and other downhill techniques:
  • Intermediate telemark turns -Difficult snow, using the terrain, trees, pointers and critiques for more advanced skiers. Aesthetics vs. Survival.
  • Climbing techniques and strategies - When to skin, when to boot? What's the fastest way up? What's the most efficient way up? What's the story on kick turns?
  • Backcountry Savvy - Skills you need in the backcountry to keep you safe: map-reading, compass-reading, gear, dressing, etc.
  • Backcountry Alpine Touring and Splitboarding, providing participants with the basic skills and knowledge for them to safely and successfully explore the backcountry on their own:
  • Basic review of gear and how to use it
  • Cover thermal regulation during winter, go over uphill travel techniques, transitions, and downhill skiing strategies
  • Backcountry Savvy - Skills you need in the backcountry to keep you safe: map-reading, compass-reading, gear, dressing, etc.


Within each course participants will be divided into small groups (around 5 to 7) by skill and ability level. Before the workshop you should have decided which group you would like to be in, and we'll ask you to fill out a short questionnaire to help us group you with others of similar level.

The workshop will also include an indoor Saturday evening session covering cold weather safety, proper clothing, and pack contents and optional ski equipment and gear discussions.

A draft agenda is shown below. The exact agenda will be defined at the workshop.

 

BACKCOUNTRY WORKSHOP Sample Itinerary (Subject to Change)

 FRIDAY
5:00-10:00PM        Arrive at Lodge/Sign In

 SATURDAY
8:00-8:30   Breakfast
8:30-9:00   Welcome
9:30-11:45  Skills & Drills
12:00-1:00  Lunch at lodge
1:15-4:00   Ski tours
5:00-6:00   Happy Hour
6:00-7:00   Dinner
7:15-8:00   Safety presentation, clothing and pack discussions
8:00-9:00   Optional gear discussions, slide show

 SUNDAY
8:00-8:45  Breakfast
8:45-9:30  Announcements
9:30-2:30  All-Day Ski Tours
2:30-3:30  Pack up/Workshop Evaluations

WHEN DOES THE WORKSHOP START AND END?

Please arrive at Cardigan Lodge Friday afternoon/evening sometime between 5:00 and 10:00 PM. Instruction will begin Saturday morning after breakfast (~8:30 AM). The workshop runs through about 3:30 PM Sunday.

WHAT ABOUT FOOD DURING THE WEEKEND?

All of your meals are included in the workshop fee. Cardigan staff will serve breakfast and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. They will provide trail lunches for both days. You may want to bring extra high-energy snacks for the trail. There will be a happy hour with munchies after the tours Saturday so you can bring your own beer/wine if you desire.

WHERE IS CARDIGAN LODGE?

The AMC's Cardigan Lodge is located on the eastern side of Cardigan Mountain near Bristol, NH. It is about 2.5 hours driving distance from Boston. See here for more details (including directions and map).

WARNING: The road into Cardigan Lodge is remote, steep in places, and narrow. Be sure that your vehicle is equipped for winter travel, and you are comfortable driving in snow on secondary roads. All-wheel or 4-wheel drive vehicles are fine for getting to the lodge. If you don't have an AWD or 4WD vehicle, snow tires are essential or chains if you have them. While you can bring a cell phone in case you need to call for help, please note that coverage can be nonexistent, especially on the road into the lodge.

We encourage all participants to carpool as it saves gas and reduces pollution, it helps with limited parking space, and it's more fun. If your car isn't up to winter driving, we STRONGLY encourage you to carpool. Conversely, if you have a vehicle that is suitable for winter, please consider offering others a ride. We will provide carpooling information to registered participants prior to the trip.

 


EQUIPMENT QUESTIONS

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?

Backcountry skis, boots, poles, full-size daypack, and clothing for skiing most of Saturday and part of Sunday in conditions that may be wet, windy, and/or cold. Bring a sleeping bag (or linens), indoor clothes, indoor shoes/slippers (no boots allowed in the lodge), robe, towels, toiletries, etc. for the lodge Friday and Saturday night. Pillows and wool blankets (two per bunk) are provided.
We will provide a complete clothing and equipment list to registered participants.

CAN I USE MY X-C TRACK SKIS AND BOOTS?

We do not recommend skiing in the backcountry on narrow track skis without metal edges. Wider skis with metal edges (at least 68 mm at the waist [under the boot], 65-88 mm at the tip) are better suited for the variable snow conditions in New England.

More important than skis are sturdy, thick-soled boots that fit 3-pin, NNN-BC, or SNS-BC bindings (track ski boots usually fit NNN or SNS track bindings). Be sure that your boots and bindings are compatible before you arrive at the workshop.

CAN I BORROW MY FRIEND'S SKIS?

Maybe, the important factors are that the boots fit well, the skis are the right length for your weight, and the gear is appropriate for the course you've selected (backcountry touring or backcountry telemark). If your friend is the same size and weight as you, things may work out fine. Be sure that your friend's gear is in good condition! and that you understand how it works. If in doubt, consider renting equipment.

SHOULD I RENT SKI EQUIPMENT? WHERE?

There are some outdoor equipment supply stores that rent or demo equipment. We will provide up-to-date information on rental equipment to registered participants a few weeks in advance of the workshop. Keep in mind that many rental shops will not accept reservations for equipment rentals, and equipment can be tough to find. Call in advance and allow time to find rental equipment. Even though the rental shop should know what they are doing, always double-check that the boots fit the ski bindings.

I WANT TO LEARN THE TELEMARK TURN; SHOULD I BRING TELEMARK SKIS?

It depends. While it is not necessary to have specialized telemark skis and boots to learn the telemark turn, it does make it easier. So here are some guidelines. If you want to take the telemark portion of the workshop, you should have at minimum, beefy leather or light plastic touring boots, such as a the Garmont Excursion or Scarpa T3 with 75mm bindings (NOT NNNBC or SNSBC) and single camber or camber and a half skis with at least 65 mm underfoot. Lift-served telemark skis and beefier boots are not necessarily recommended, as there are only TWO trails on the mountain that adequately accommodate these type of skis. If you want to bring a bigger set-up, you would do well to also have a lighter BC touring set-up as you may want to participate on one of the tours on Sunday. Cardigan offers a wonderful range of skiing, and it's good to have options. Keep in mind, telemark is just a turn and nearly all of the groups will cover it to some extent. It comes in handy in a variety of situations in the BC, so you will get some experience with it during the workshop, even if you sign up for the touring course. If you are interested in working primarily on tele turns, indicate to the Registrar that you're interested in the telemark course and fill out the appropriate skills and abilities questionnaire when you register. The workshop coordinator will try to accommodate you but reserves final decision on course assignments.


PAYMENT QUESTIONS

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

To be fully signed up you must complete the Registration Form and send a payment.  Cost is $200 for AMC members ($250 for non-members). The cancellation fee is $50 before January 8. Refunds after January 8 cannot be assured. 

Please contact Cheryl Hacker for the link to the Registration Form.

Or, mail a check payable to "Boston Chapter Ski Committee" for $200 for AMC members ($250 for non-members) to Cheryl Hacker, she'll give you the address when you contact her for registration. You are not registered for this workshop until your payment is received. Last-minute signup? Check with 

CAN I PAY DURING THE WORKSHOP?

We might be able to work something out. Check with Cheryl.

I PAID BY PAYPAL OR CHECK. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

You will receive a confirmation via email. We will send another email two weeks prior to the workshop containing a workshop description, skills & abilities questionnaires, equipment and clothing checklists, carpooling information, driving directions, etc.

WHAT IF THERE IS NO SNOW?

The workshop will be held regardless of weather and snow conditions. There is usually snow on the ground in New Hampshire by late January. If there is inadequate snow cover, we may ski at a local downhill ski area. However, the price of lift tickets is not included in the workshop fee. Please be prepared to pay for lift tickets if you wish to have this option available. There may also be an option to hike, but trails are often icy in the winter (even if there's no snow), so hiking options could be very limited. We will do our best with whatever Mother Nature throws our way. Expect the worst and hope for the best. That said, the workshop has run successfully every year! It's always a great time.

WHERE CAN I OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION?

For more information, contact Cheryl Hacker.