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Statement on COVID -19 and 2021 Winter Mountaineering School Programs

Hello Winter Mountaineers,


Mountaineering is balancing risk and reward;  when crossing a steep slope one at a time, slowing the pace to climb a technical feature on an ascent, or simple when choosing to run the ADK Winter Mountaineering School.  For over 60 years the dedicated volunteer staff of WMS have run this program in all sorts of conditions, including the dreaded R word (rain).  We have seen ups and downs in enrollment, instructor participation, and program realignment both good and bad.  It is interesting that we are coming off of one of our largest program years just 6 months ago, and now struggling with a global pandemic that hasn’t been matched in 100 years.  “When I tackle a serious mountaineering objective I want all the doors to be wide open and let me walk or more likely ski right through.”  I heard it from a pro skier, I don’t know who originally coined the phrase.  This seems like an appropriate way to describe the struggles of trying to plan for a winter mountaineering school that could see 40 something students and up to 20 instructors six months from now.  The guidelines today wouldn’t allow such a thing.  We have no way of knowing what state this pandemic will be in by January or March for the White Mountain Section, but it seams unlikely that the doors will be wide open inviting us into the Adirondacks to run a mountaineering school.  The reward isn’t there to justify the risk of furthering this pandemic in an amazing mountain region like the Adirondacks.


After much deliberation and debate; as well as input from the ADK guidelines for outdoor programs, CDC for appropriate guidelines for running an outdoor educational program, and my fellow WMS volunteer instructors we have decided to cancel ADK Winter School 2021 in its traditional fashion.  There will not be an in person program out of the Loj this winter, however we aren’t going to leave our prospective and returning students without opportunities to learn about winter mountaineering.  We see this as a chance to think big, teach topics that we normally wouldn’t cover in the span of a week long intro to mountaineering course!


The current plan is to offer a variety of online education, workshops, and topic specific Q&A… We are working out the details this fall and will be ready to go as the snow starts to take hold of the mountains.  Teaching topics that could range from “what’s in a mountaineering pack” to “ski mountaineering”.  Some of this programing will be open to all ADK members, while others will only be available to our veteran students.  With that, please come join our Facebook page, ADK WMS Alumni and continue to check the website this fall as we plan on adding more details each month leading to winter.


Please stay mentally and physically health during these unique times and life events. 


Thank you,


Jeremy Osburn

WMS Program Director 2021

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