With loosened travel restrictions, DOC launches winter trips

by Sydney Wuu | 2/1/21 2:05am

by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth

On Jan. 26, the Dartmouth Outing Club kicked off its winter subclub trips following the end of arrival quarantine. The trips, which include ice climbing and cross-country skiing excursions, will provide more opportunities for students to travel off campus than trips led in the fall.

Unlike fall term, DOC trips are no longer bound to a set of Upper Valley towns — Enfield, Hanover, Lebanon, Lyme and West Lebanon in New Hampshire and Hartford and Norwich in Vermont — but can now be held throughout the entire state of New Hampshire. Additionally, toward the end of fall, DOC leaders received approval to use their fleet of vans in a limited capacity after COVID-19 rules prohibited van use for most of the term. Up to four people can now ride in a van — one leader and three trippees.

Some of the DOC’s subclubs — including Cabin and Trail, the Nordic Ski Club, Women in the Wilderness and the Timber Team — offer trips this term that vary by week. All students approved for on-campus access can visit the DOC’s digital platform “Trailhead” to sign up for student-run trips.

Cabin and Trail co-chair Kevin Donohue ’21 said that the rule changes were a “big improvement” and allow for a wider range of trip locations.

“Driving people places and hiking in those places is really exciting,” Donohue said. “I’m really looking forward to doing that, even with limited capacity.”

Donohue said that he anticipates off-campus trips will be “pretty popular” this term. Cabin and Trail will also run local trips that will not require vans, such as nature walks around campus and sledding. During the first weekend after the arrival quarantine period, all of Cabin and Trail’s trips filled up.

Despite the frigid temperatures, “people are excited to experience the beautiful New Hampshire winter,” Donohue said.

Dartmouth Mountaineering Club co-chair Grant Dumanian ’22 said that ice climbing trips — which the DMC announces every Tuesday — have filled up quickly in previous winter terms. He expects this term will be no exception.

Dumanian is hoping to attract mostly beginner ’24s to ice climbing, as he predicts upperclassmen are “more likely to have the means to get themselves out on trips” without the support of an official DMC trip.

“The problem with ice climbing trips is that we need to drive kids in a van, but we can only have a maximum of three non-leaders in the van, which makes trip sizes very small,” Dumanian said. 

Club Nordic leader Nat Alden ’23 said that many Nordic skiing trips this term will occur at the decommissioned golf course on campus, which is being groomed for Nordic skiing.

Alden noted that about half of Nordic club participants — a few dozen — are usually beginners. He is excited that this year may bring even more, as he expects many “have nothing better to do” due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our goal is definitely to get out new people, especially at the start,” Alden said. “This year should be good for that.”

Club Nordic offers beginner-friendly trips two to three times a week, specifically catered to students who have never skied. The club also offers intermediate trips where leaders do not teach a lesson but rather provide transportation and allow participants to free ski.

Alden led his first in-person skiing trip — a beginner-friendly “learn to skate ski” trip on Jan. 26 to Fullington Farm Field in Lyme — after organizing weekly workouts on Zoom throughout the fall.

Makayla Dixon ’23, who went on the trip, said that she and seven other students rented gear for free at the Outdoor Programs Office. During the trip, they tried balance exercises, moved from flat ground to slopes and learned about different pole techniques.

“It was really fun, and I would definitely consider going again,” Dixon said. “I thought both leaders did a great job planning the trip and teaching.”

She added that while many had skating experience, there were some students who had never been on snow or skis at all, and it was “cool to see them enjoying themselves and picking it up.”

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