Winter School 2009 Information
Winter School starts February 2nd and runs through March 1st.
What is Winter School?
Winter School is an opportunity to learn about winter outdoor recreation including hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, ice climbing, and mountaineering, from fellow members of the Yale community. You will also learn how to survive in cold weather (and enjoy it), how to make snow anchors and snow angels, what to wear, what to eat, how to be warm sleeping in a snow cave, the list goes on...
What is the format?
Lectures every Monday and Wednesday from 7:30pm to 9:30pm through the month of February (Dunham Lab 220). Topics covered will include food, clothing, snow camping, snowshoeing, ice axe and crampon use, cross-country and backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and more. Guest lecturers include faculty from the Geology Department and an alpine expedition doctor.
Each weekend Winter School trips around New England will focus on specific skills covered in lectures, such as using ice axes to arrest a fall on steep snow or building secure snow shelters for camping. Trips ranging from day snowshoes to winter camping to backcountry skiing and ice climbing will be offered throughout the month, varying in intensity level and distance from campus.
Trips are optional. You can attend the lectures as you see fit (attending more is encouraged), but in order to go on any weekend trips, you need to attend the first two lectures on Feb 2nd and Feb 4th when we will cover important safety material.
If you are unable to attend these lectures: review the presentation PDFs below and complete these make-up questions to remain eligible to go on trips. We need to all be on the same page safety-wise.
Is previous winter experience necessary?
No, none at all. We want to teach you how to have fun safely in the winter--regardless of experience or fitness level.
Do I need to register?
No, but to go on any trips, you need to attend the first two lectures Feb 2nd and Feb 4th. See the make-up option above if you are unable to attend the first two lectures.
Where do I show up?
All lectures will be in Dunham Lab, room 220, at 10 Hillhouse Ave.
What does it cost?
Lectures are free. For trips, we will charge a nominal trip fee and will rent winter gear as needed. You will also need to join the outing clubs ($10/semester) to go on any trips. Remember to bring your checkbook at that time. You will need at least one check for a deposit each time you rent gear, and then when you return gear you can pay rental fees by cash, check, or card. Gas will be split by trip participants.
What do I need if I want to go on trips?
You can rent most technical gear from the outing clubs, but you will need your own winter clothing. And you will need a few pieces of gear: A compass, whistle, flashlight (headlamp preferred), and water bottles (at least 2 liters worth). See a full list of clothing and gear here.
Sign up for trips here.
What are the lecture topics?
Feb 2: Essential Skills
  • Introduction
  • Mountain weather (Additional Information)
  • Food and water
  • Clothing and basic gear
  • Winter driving
  • Backpack fitting
  • Cheap gear sources
Feb 4: Basic Winter Travel
  • Peeing in the woods/hygiene
  • Winter hiking basics
  • Ice axes and crampons
  • Navigation
  • Winter School trip policies
Feb 9: Backcountry Safety and Climbing
  • Trip planning
  • Cold-weather health and injuries
  • Ice climbing
Feb 11: Multi-Day Trips
  • Overnight camping basics
  • Camping food and stoves
  • Snow shelters and tents
  • Safety and risk
Feb 16: Advanced Winter Travel
  • Avalanches (part I)
  • Advanced snow travel
  • Glacier travel
Feb 18: Skiing and Glaciers
  • Glaciology
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Backcountry skiing
Feb 23: Expeditions
  • Expedition planning
  • High altitude health and injuries
Feb 25: What's Next?
  • Make-up from previous lectures
  • Gear maintenance and repair
  • YMC history and future expeditions
  • Post-Mortem
Anything else I should know?
The third week of Winter School—the lectures on glaciology, avalanches, and snow and ice travel—are being held in conjunction with the Yale Student Environmental Coalition's "Water Week."
And the final weekend of Winter School (Feb 31 - Mar 1) Yale Outdoors is offering a Wilderness First Aid course—training required for leaders of the outing clubs (and future Winter School leaders). E-mail for information.
How do I get more information?
Direct all questions to