Winter mountaineering is more than climbing, panoramic views, and wilderness experience. It is also challenge, risk, and hardship. The basic winter mountaineering curriculum includes managing tents, stoves, packs, etc. under extreme conditions, map and compass usage, a working knowledge of heat management to avoid hypothermia and frostbite (includes proper diet, hydration, and layering), avalanche awareness, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, basic top-rope anchor construction, rappeling, and ice climbing. The more advanced curriculum also includes leadership development, the Z-pulley system, and aid climbing.
Mountaineers test their skills with backcountry trips throughout New England. Some are more local, making use of the Appalachian Trail which lies just above the school. Others are more courageous, such as braving the subzero temperatures and hurricane winds of Mt. Washington, NH or Mt. Katahdin, ME. The group even goes on more technically oriented trips such as ice climbing the frozen waterfalls of Frankenstein Cliffs in NH.Berkshire School’s natural resources are well-suited to teach students how to survive under winter conditions. Berkshire has its own cross-country ski trails, frozen waterfalls to practice ice climbing techniques, and plenty of varied terrain for snow shoeing. The RKMP provides the bulk of the equipment, including skis, crampons, ice tools, snow shoes, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, etc. The RKMP even provide very high quality jackets and pants for outer windproof/rainproof layers. The program provides a great opportunity for students to learn a whole array of mountaineering skills that is sure to be an unforgettable experience.