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Every winter, the Appalachian Mountain Club leads weekend snowboarding clinics for the bold, the curious, and the bored riders who are ready to sever their resort ties. Held in New Hampshire's White Mountains and in the Catskills of New York, the clinics focus on steep-terrain techniques and route finding for intermediates.
The White Mountains workshop has a special bonus: the chance to ride the ravines that furrow the lower slopes of Mount Washington. At a Friday-night prep session in the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Highway 16, up to eight boarders get the lowdown on gear and avoiding deadfalls and other off-trail hazards.
On Saturday morning, the group and two instructors snowshoe 2.4 miles [3.9 kilometers] and 2,000 vertical feet [610 meters] up to the lean-tos of the Hermit Lake Shelters. After everyone drops their packs off, the guides establish the itinerary, based on the weather and snow conditions.
On some outings, participants tramp north to Huntington Ravine, then board back to camp, practicing tight turns in the gullies. After a dinner of, say, veggie burritos and cocoa comes a frosty night in a lean-to.
The next morning, if the avalanche risk is low, campers may test their new skills in Tuckerman Ravine, the legendary cirque on the mountain's southeastern flank. Or the group may spend the day on the remote Great Gulf headwall, learning to balance boards on jump turns, rip through backcountry crud, and perform avalanche tests.
After picking up their gear at Hermit Lake, snowboarders finish with a 2.5-mile [4-kilometer] run down the Sherburne Ski Trail back to Pinkham Notch.
Click locations for ski guides.
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