Dartmouth Outing Club offers opportunities for students to get outside in the winter

Experiences include skiing, snowboarding and hiking trips.

by Emily Fagell | 2/10/23 1:05am

Source: Courtesy of the Dartmouth Outing Club

This article is featured in the 2023 Winter Carnival special issue. 

Despite record-low January snowfall, students have taken the opportunity to ski, sled and get outside this winter. While some students pioneer their own activities, the Dartmouth Outing Club has been lauded for its winter offerings, ranging from diverse winter sports to hot chocolate in the DOC house.

Some winter pastimes come at a cost — a season pass to the Dartmouth Skiway, for example, costs students between $80 and $134 depending on class year — but all DOC day trips are available to students free of charge, according to DOC president Piper Stacey ’23. Stacey added that students can sign up for “almost any trip” regardless of experience through DOC Trailhead, the organization’s digital platform.

“I didn’t get involved in the DOC until my sophomore winter, and when I did — I’m from San Francisco — I was like, ‘I have never really hiked in the snow before. What is that? Am I going to be miserable full-time?’” Stacey said. “The answer to that question is usually no.”

Stacey added that winter term is “probably the most active term” on campus for the DOC, with the greatest number of DOC subclubs running trips. According to Outdoor Programs Office program coordinator Elliot Ng ’21, more than ten trips can run on a given day, except for Mondays — when many groups meet to plan activities for the week. 

While some of the currently-operating programs are winter-specific, such as the Alpine Ski Racing Club or the Club Snowboarding Team, many also operate year-round, Stacey said, including Cabin and Trail.

Cabin and Trail

Cabin and Trail — the largest subdivision of the DOC — continues to offer hikes and cabin overnights throughout the winter. According to former Cabin and Trail chair Alex Wells ’22, the club runs “somewhere between five and 20 hikes” per weekend, all listed on Trailhead.

While Wells said winter turnout is lower than in the fall, interest remains high for classic destinations such as Gile Mountain and the club’s more “ambitious” and “risk-involving” hikes — such as Franconia Ridge and Mount Washington.

Wells added that these winter trips are similar to hiking in other seasons, except that students need to layer up and can descend the mountain faster due to the lack of exposed rocks. Hikes, cabins and gear are free to students, he said.

“If you are going on a hike, you can borrow anything that you might possibly need, except for underwear and socks,” Wells said.

Courtesy of the Dartmouth Outing Club

Nordic Ski Club

According to its website, the Nordic Ski Club — which includes classic and skate cross-country skiing, among other activities — provides unlimited free rentals and lessons through DOC funding. Spencer Mancuso ’25, who went on the club’s break trip to Norway and plans to lead trips this winter, said the group provides a way to get active and off central campus — the golf course, he noted, is fully groomed and open seven days a week.

“One of the biggest things that cross-country skiing does for me on a regular basis is get me out of anything campus-related, like thinking about school,” he said. “There’s so many places to explore off campus that people don’t know about. And that’s kind of the gift of being here at Dartmouth — is that you can walk 15 minutes and you’re in the woods.”

While Mancuso noted that nordic skiing can be intimidating, he said the Nordic Ski Club “is extremely focused on getting beginners out.”

“That’s one of the main functions of the club — is to spread the love of the sport,” he said.

The Nordic Ski Club also has a biathlon section, consisting of cross-country skiing and rifle target shooting, according to the DOC and club nordic websites. 

Alpine Ski Racing Club

According to the DOC website, the Alpine Ski Racing Club, known colloquially as club ski, “exists to provide an outlet for alpine skiers who wish to pursue competitive racing but not at the varsity level.” 

Club member Nat Schreder ’24 said the group practices twice a week and competes in six races per term, but students can be as involved as they wish — out of 167 GroupMe members, she estimated that only 50 or 60 are active in the club. While students need to register for races at the beginning of the season, Schreder said the club does not make cuts, and practices are listed on Trailhead.

“We’ve got a couple kids who raced in high school and are good, and then a lot of people who just like skiing and are there for the vibes,” she said. “I enjoy that no matter what level you are, you can still just have fun and make the most of it. I like being on a team.”

While the club itself is free, Schreder said members have to pay fees to enter races if they wish to compete. That said, she said the DOC subsidizes race fees and ski jackets, and financial aid is available as needed.

“I think [the DOC has] done a lot to make the financial aspect not a barrier,” Schreder said.

Club Snowboarding Team

According to the DOC website, the Club Snowboarding team “aims to support a community of students with varying levels of skill in snowboarding and foster the growth and prosperity of snowboarding at Dartmouth.”

Club Snowboarding co-captain Devin Tulio ’25, described Club Snowboarding as “a two purpose club” in an email statement — a competition team and a beginner-friendly space to learn the sport. 

“We welcome people of any experience, from never-evers to those that have been riding since they were little,” Tulio wrote. “We normally run trips 2-3 times a week that can function as practices for riders looking to compete but also as a good place for beginners to gain experience, and it offers a great opportunity to ride exclusively with other snowboarders.”

Though the team has not yet competed this season, Tulio noted that last year, the competition team attended “almost all” of the available competitions — even traveling to nationals. Even so, Tulio wrote that “getting people into the sport [is] a top priority” for the club. 

To help with this mission, the club has recently introduced a learn-to-ride program which includes a three-hour lesson with a certified snowboard instructor and free equipment rentals. According to Stacey, students are able to walk away from the lesson with their own snowboard for “a little bit of money.” She added that, as a DOC activity, financial aid applies to the purchase of the snowboard.

“Overall, we do offer a competitive aspect to the team and have had good success with that but we’re also super committed to getting people into the sport and making it as accessible as possible for everyone,” Tulio wrote.

According to Tulio, the club hopes to offer a wide range of experiences that appeal to a variety of students. For experienced riders, the club organizes trips to Killington Resort and Whaleback Mountain. The club has also partnered with DOC-subclub People of Color Outdoors to run POCO-specific snowboard discovery programs, according to Tulio. In addition to snowboarding itself, the Club Snowboarding Team also hosts social events and educational demonstrations — such as how to wax and maintain snowboards. 

“We’re very committed as a club to help minimize as many barriers as possible to accessing winter sports,” Tulio wrote.

Dartmouth Ski Patrol

Ski Patrol provides rescue, patrol and safety services on the Dartmouth Skiway, in addition to medical safety support to other DOC clubs throughout the year, according to the DOC website.  

Each year, the group interviews first-year students during the fall, ultimately selecting approximately  30 for an interview, according to administrative officer Katherine Takoudes ’24. After the “intensive” 10-week Outdoor Emergency Care course — complete with a midterm, final and “around eight hours a week time commitment” — around 20 students continue onto the ski test, after which 15 are selected as “apprenti” for the organization, Takoudes said. 

During their first winter, the apprenti do not patrol or respond to medical scenarios, but rather shadow older members and provide supplies or support. The next year — their sophomore winter — apprenti go through an intense week of training and a final test before becoming vested patrollers, Takoudes added.

Members of ski patrol each take two four-hour shifts per week, according to Takoudes. Although a notable time commitment, she said the organization provides an “escape” from the stress of campus life.

“It draws me to the Skiway, and it brings me outside for about 10 hours every week, which I absolutely love,” Takoudes said. “And when I’m on shift, I can’t do homework. I need to focus on either a medical scenario, or opening and closing trails or getting down the mountain and bringing someone down in the sled.”

Courtesy of the Dartmouth Outing Club

Winter Sports Club

The Winter Sports Club is dedicated to backcountry ski touring, according to the DOC website. Although less common than traditional alpine skiing, trip leader Wyatt Ellison ’25 said that leading beginner trips is part of the group’s mission.

According to Ellison, backcountry skiing involves hiking a mountain using binding skins — a fabric that sticks to the bottom of skis — and then skiing back down.

“It’s fun to explore terrain where there aren’t as many people,” Ellison said. “There’s more fresh snow. And I like it because it’s like winter hiking … It’s combining some of my favorite things, which is winter hiking and skiing.”

Ellison said the club partakes in backcountry trips beyond campus, as well as night laps on the Skiway. He added that the trips and gear are free to students, with the exception of ski boots, as sizing takes too long to complete in the allotted trip time.

While students can get involved with winter activities through Trailhead, Stacey recommended attending weekly meetings in order to “socially integrate into a club.”

“Whether it’s skiing for the first time or hiking or ice climbing or something that’s totally pushing you out of your comfort zone — even in the harsh conditions of the winter — a lot of these activities end up bringing you closer together with the people that are on your trip,” she said. 

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