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Give the Gift of a New Backcountry Winter Skill

Ice Climbing photograph courtesy of George Karaffa, EMS Schools

Mittens get lost. Socks wear out. Zippers break, fabric snags on branches and dogs chew up hats. A more memorable present for folks who rejoice in snow country can be a class or workshop that teaches new skills, builds confidence and brings new terrain underfoot. Here are just a few ideas for excellent programs for all ages across the Adirondacks. Note that advance registration is required for all of these sessions.

December 22, 26, 28 and more: Winter Climbing 101. $150 adults

Lake Placid’s EMS store sponsors a variety of workshops all year, and this introduction to ice climbing provides the tools and techniques to go above and beyond in the High Peaks.

December 23: All About Snowshoes. $25 kids

At the Paul Smiths VIC kids ages seven to 11 hit the trail with an eco-educator who explains how animals cope with cold, ice and snow. The all-day snowshoe program not only explores frozen habitats and their hardy residents but features hands-on crafts too.

January 4, 2014: Introduction to Backcountry Snowshoeing. $50 adults; discount for kids

Heart Lake, smack in the center of the High Peaks, boasts miles of all-season trails and the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondak Loj. This all-day workshop is ideal for families who want to try snowshoeing in a beautiful setting with expert guides. Snowshoe rental is included in the workshop fee.

January 5–February 2: Kids’ Club. $60

Garnet Hill Lodge, with 55 km of groomed trails in North River, offers four weeks of ski fun for ages five to 12; the fee includes equipment, trail pass, instruction in classic and skate-ski techniques, games, backcountry adventures, snacks and hot cocoa.

January 11: Lapland Ladies Love to Ski. $40

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, near Northville, is 300 acres of rolling trails, lovely woods, comfortable cabins and Finnish flair for cold-weather fun. If you’re looking for a way to encourage a female friend to get acquainted with skinny skis, a gift certificate for the ladies-only workshop provides beginner to intermediate instruction, guided ski tours, lunch and a photo op with the resident reindeer.

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