Spring Break Winter Extravaganza!

Ice Climbing, Skiing, Biking and Hiking, Oh My!

March 3-9, 2024

Registration still open! Join us on this adventurous winter excursion to experience all that winter has to offer in the mountains. We will travel to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and experienceice climbing, winter hiking, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and fat biking. We will stay inside overnights, and you have the choice to camp outside if you would like to try it! We will also visit the Olympic Museum and have a chance to visit the town. This trip will be fun, challenging, and rewarding; you can learn new skills, meet new people and have a great time experiencing new winter sports!

Why come? So many great reasons! Winter in New England is classic, beautiful and magical, with the sparkle of the snow, the magic of the moonlight, the crisp clear days, the fat and bold snowflakes, and the super fun ways to enjoy cold weather! The best way to enjoy it is to get out in it! If you've always wanted to try winter activities but haven't had the chance yet, or maybe you already know you love it, this is your opportunity. We will provide instruction, safety, and all gear for every activity - easy for you to get a chance to challenge yourself and have a great time!

Lake Placid is a small town in the middle of big wilderness call the Adirondacks, or the High Peaks Mountains. There are 46 mountains above 4,000 feet all around the town that attract hikers throughout the year. Lake Placid is a winter wonderland from December into April. It was host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. It continues to be a training ground for new generations of athletes, including ski jumping and bobsledding. It is a great place, with so many options to jump in to your winter experience!

Register online: Spring Break 2024 Winter Extravaganza

This all-inclusive trip is priced at $895 for UML students, faculty and staff, including van travel from Lowell and back, your UMass Lowell (UML) guides, gear and all food for these 7 days! $325 deposit will be due upon registration; remaining payment of $570 will be due no later than February 15. Registration is also open now for non-UML guests at a price of $1195 ($525 deposit, with final $675 due February 15)! 

The actual cost of this trip would be approximately $1400 or more - this is a GREAT deal! We prioritize our UML students getting new and adventurous experiences, so that's why we price it so affordably. 

Person hikes across a frozen lake backlit by sun.

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Description of the Trip

This trip is focused on Winter, Winter, Winter FUN! It's a Winter Extravaganza! We plan to have a great time in the snow and introduce participants to what may become life-long sports! Each day from Monday through Friday, we will do one of each of the main activities: ice climbing, downhill skiing, fat biking, cross country skiing, and winter hiking. (Descriptions follow.) There is some time to enjoy the Olympic Museum and a wander around the fantastic town of Lake Placid, as well.

As an added bonus, participants may choose to try optional winter camping on the grounds of the hostel!! You want to say you've tried it, this is your chance! We'll have all the gear, supplies and knowledge. It's a great experience, enjoying the sparkle of the snow in the moonlight, the silence of the winter woods, and discovering that you're up to the challenge and it's actually possible to stay warm and cozy! (And if you're worried you'll wake up cold, know that you can always retreat back inside.)

Worried you'll be cold?? Don't be! We have knowledge, layers and warmth to share. Our staff will make sure that everyone is set up with all the resources they need, supplementing your own clothes and gear with items to borrow from the OAP, like fleece and down jackets, snow pants, and extra gloves, mittens and hats. There are some tricks to staying warm in the winter -- wearing the right clothes the right way, keeping up your activity, and keeping yourself fed and hydrated are all keys. Our staff is here to help you and the whole group have a great time, even if you're nervous about the cold! Remember, every night we will be back at the hostel, so you can be sure to have good warm rest and dry out any layers overnight.

One person climbs on a large wall of solid ice. Image by DJ Cremin

Ice Climbing

We will be ice climbing for a full day with High Peaks Mountain Guides. From their website: "The Adirondack Mountains are home to some of the best ice climbing in the United States. Each year the park attracts ice climbers from all over the world. Our professional guides will teach you everything from the basics of tool placement and crampon footwork, to advanced techniques. All courses include professional guided instruction, equipment rentals, and scenic views!" It is a really unique opportunity! All gear (ice climbing axes, mountaineering boots, crampons, harness, helmet) along with a guide service will be provided as part of the trip. For more information on the activity, look at our OAP Ice Climbing page.

A group in downhill skiers smile at the top of a snow covered run.

Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding

There's nothing quite like zipping down a run on a bluebird day, practicing your turns and feeling the breeze on your face (or goggles!). Whiteface Mountain, New York's fifth highest mountain at 4,867 feet has the greatest vertical drop in the East. However, if you're not up for the most experienced runs, Whiteface also has great beginner trails and everything in between. All ski or snowboard gear (boots, skis/board, poles, and helmet) as well as a lift ticket will be provided as part of the trip. If you have your own gear, you are welcome to bring it. For more information on the activity, look at our OAP Downhill Skiing page.

Two people travel on bikes with fat tires on a snowy path in the woods Image by MatadorNetwork

Fat Biking

Fat biking is fun, accessible, and easy on the body - perfect for those looking for a low impact sport. It’s just like mountain biking on dirt but way cooler! The large volume and low pressure of fat bike tires provide excellent floatation making them ideal for winter adventures. They also act as shock and vibration absorbers giving them a smooth comfortable feel, and making them perfect for beginners and casual riders who don't want the high impact discomfort of a conventional mountain bike. Participants will need to come already knowing the basic skill of how to ride a bike. On our fat biking day, we will do a half day of biking, then we will go to town to visit the Olympic Museum, and visit the town of Lake Placid. An optional in-town dinner is possible if desired ($ on your own).

Three people cross country ski up a small hill in the woods.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing is one of the best ways to get outside, get full-body exercise, rejuvenate yourself with the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and also have a great time! Along with moments of adrenaline while gliding downhill, cross country skiing is a chance to learn how to efficiently ascend gentle hills on skis and wend your way through the woods while you appreciate your surroundings. The main difference from cross country skiing to downhill skiing is that cross country skis have some texture on the bottom that gives a bit of grip for going forward but still allowing glide. It is welcoming for beginners and is a great lifelong sport. We will start from the Mount Van Hoevenberg trails, and can even return to the hostel for a lunch break. All ski gear (boots, skis and poles) along with instruction will be provided as part of the trip. For more information on the activity, look at our OAP Cross Country Skiing page.

Students line up and smile near top of mountain with blue sky.

Snowshoeing / Winter Hiking

Winter Hiking one of the Adirondack High Peaks is an experience you won't want to miss! Similar to our trips up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, our winter hike in the Adirondacks will offer some challenge and beautiful views. We will be prepared with our normal winter gear, including snowshoes and micro spikes for our feet so we are ready for different conditions. Depending on the conditions at the time, we have a few choices of mountains and trails; we will be considering Wright, Ampersand, Van Hoevenberg, or St. Regis mountains. For more information on the activity, look at our OAP Winter Hiking page.

The sunlit front steps and facade of the Lake Placid Hostel surrounded by snow

Lodging and Other

Where we are staying: We will stay at the popular and comfy hostel in Lake Placid, TMax-N-Topos Hostel. The hostel has a full kitchen, single beds for each person in shared bunk rooms, plus several individual use bathrooms with warm showers. There is a comfy living room where you can hang out or play board games during the evenings! There is also perfect outside space on the snow-covered lawn behind the hostel to camp in, if people choose to do so.

What to know about the weather: The Adirondacks Mountains of New York enjoy a long winter! Early March will be still be very wintry; averages for early March are low to mid-30s for the high (around 0 degrees Celsius) and teens overnight (about -10 Celsius). Snow or sun can be expected, and it is of course possible to see rain or ice potentially. The specific activity dates may vary depending on the expected conditions.

Who is leading the trip? Our trip leaders have solid experience leading Outdoor Adventure Program trips, including overnight excursions, along with Wilderness First Responder medical training. We will also hire Lake Placid-based professional staff for technical activities (specifically ice climbing).

a group of nine people on cross country skis poses in front of a covered bridge, all smiling and holding up their ski poles


$895, all-inclusive with van travel, your guides, gear and all food for these 7 days! $325 deposit will be due upon registration; remaining payment of $570 will be due no later than February 15. Spaces remain open!

Guests are welcome to register along with a UML student, faculty or staff! Your sibling, parent, significant other, spouse... all who are excited about the trip are welcome! Guest cost $1195. $525 deposit will be due upon registration; remaining payment of $670 due no later than February 15. 

The actual cost of this trip, including food, lodging and all the activities, would be approximately $1400or more-this is a GREAT deal! We prioritize our UML students getting new and adventurous experiences, so that's why we price it so affordably. If you want to come, but are worried about cost or need to make payments on a separate schedule, please send an email to Kate Ford at kate_ford@uml.edu to inquire about scholarships or payment options - we would love to help if we can!

The only additional potential costs would be any souvenirs or road purchases, and one optional in-town dinner.


Trip registration is now open! This trip is available to the UMass Lowell community (students, faculty and staff) as well as their guests. Group size maximum is 10 participants; group size minimum is 8 participants. Encourage your friends to join!

Register online: Spring Break 2024 Winter Extravaganza

Regarding the waitlist: When the trip is full, please register like normal and you will be placed on the waitlist. There is no financial charge to be placed on the waitlist. If/When a space opens, we will work through the waitlist in order of registrations and invite people individually, so sign up as early as possible! Do not delay, as you will have a better chance the sooner you register.

If you are waitlisted, please watch your email carefully: If you are offered a spot, you may have just a couple days to accept before we move on to the next person. Your deposit will be due at that time, or the full charge if after February 15. Depending on when a space opens, this may happen at any time up until the end of February.

Cancellation Policy

Due to the commitment and scope of the program, the deadline for cancellations with full refund of your deposit is January 2. After this deadline, participants needing to cancel will only receive a full refund if another participant assumes their place on the trip. As stated above, we will maintain a waitlist and will attempt to fill the space if at all possible. If the trip is cancelled by OAP for any reason, participants will receive a full refund of the trip cost.

skill-level&exertionSkill Level / Prerequisites

  • Overall good physical fitness. This will allow for a successful trip; please consider exercising at least 2-3x weekly to prepare.
  • Ability to be active for approx. 6-8 hours or more per day.
  • Being ready mentally for challenging temperatures in a cold, wintry climate, and to push yourself.
  • Ability to ride a bicycle at a basic level.
  • No previous winter activity experience required, just a good attitude to challenge yourself and try new things!
Hikers in the Snow Headed for a Mountain Summit.

Physical Exertion

Medium to significant, but varies with each activity. Each day will involve 6-8 hours. Much of these winter activities will use the whole body, especially including core and back muscles, and also a lot of legs. All of the specific trails and locations will depend on the specific activity and the group 's collective ability. Downhill skiing will likely see the group split up to do their own level of skiing; for the other activities, the group will generally stay as one or two groups. For more information on each activity, see above and click on our individual OAP trip pages about those activities.

Physical conditioning prior to the trip will be an important step to having a great trip, both for yourself and the group. The more you prepare, the better the experience will be. Since many of these winter activities are leg and core dependent, one of the best activities you can do to prepare is go hiking or running, as well as general fitness workouts in the gym with weight. UMass Lowell's Campus Recreation Facilities offer great access to excellent work-out equipment. Consider signing up for personal training sessions. Please speak with your doctor about starting any physical training regimen.

pre-trip-meetingsPre-trip Meetings

  1. Monday, January 22 at 5:30 p.m. An informational meeting is open to all at the Outdoor Center and Bike Shop (5 Lawrence Dr., Lowell, MA 01854) or on Zoom: - Pre-trip informational Zoom meeting for Spring Break. This meeting is for anyone, including students who have already registered for the trip, any students on the waitlist, as well as anyone else who is interested in learning more and potentially joining the waitlist. Topics will include:
    • Daily schedule: We will talk over the plan for each day of the trip, describing each activity and answering any questions. We will also talk over the travel plan.
    • Meals & Lodging: We will talk over meal possibilities; our menu will vary depending on the needs of the group (dietary restrictions, etc.). We will buy food at a grocery store, and bring it with us to the hostel in Lake Placid, TMax-N-Topos Hostel.
    • Trip Leaders: Come meet the staff leading this trip! Our trip leaders have solid experience leading Outdoor Adventure Program trips, including overnight excursions, along with Wilderness First Responder medical training. We will also hire Lake Placid-based professional staff for technical activities.
  2. Thursday, February 15, at 5:30 p.m. In this required preparation meeting, we will review the maps, menu, lodging, and travel information. We will go over the full personal packing list. You will leave this pre-trip meeting all the information you need and knowing what extra gear you can borrow, as well as any last items you may decide to purchase yourself. (If you can't join due to your classes, email kate_ford@uml.edu, and we'll get you covered!)
  3. Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. In this final preparation meeting, everyone will bring their fully packed winter gear and we will do a full gear shakedown with each person to make sure you have sufficient winter gear. You will check out any OAP gear you need. Duffle bags/suitcases can be left at the Outdoor Center overnight for your convenience.

trip-itineraryTrip Itinerary

  • March 3, Sunday: Drive from Lowell to Lake Placid, NY. Settle in at the hostel in Lake Placid, TMax-N-Topos Hostel. Enjoy a short winter hike, and maybe a campfire!
  • March 4, Monday*: Ice Climbing Day Trip, led by High Peaks Mountain Guides, full day.
  • March 5, Tuesday: Downhill Skiing at Whiteface Mountain, full day.
  • March 6, Wednesday*: Fat Biking on the trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Scotts Cobble Nordic Center for half day. Other half day going to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, with an optional in-town dinner.
  • March 7, Thursday*: Cross Country Skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, full day.
  • March 8, Friday*: Winter Hike up one of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, full day.
  • March 9, Saturday: Enjoy a last short hike in the morning. Pack up and drive back to Lowell. Clean and put away gear. Celebrate, reflect, enjoy the moment!
  • *The events may change specific dates due to weather needs.
  • At the end of each day, we will return to the hostel in Lake Placid, where the group will prepare hot food and enjoy warm showers and sleep inside. Breakfast is at the hostel, as well. Outdoor winter camping is an option on the grounds of the hostel.
Winter hikers making silly poses on a frozen lake.

Packing List:

The items on this list are strongly recommended for your winter experiences. Some items may vary depending on the specific activity by day. Since we will have a home base, we recommend having a bit extra so you can adjust your gear depending on the weather forecast and your thermal perception (i.e. if you generally feel cold easily or often feel hot). Being inside overnight also means you can dry out any damp gear overnight.

Winter clothing must be non-cotton. In winter, the saying is, "Cotton is rotten." In order to stay warm and comfortable during our outdoor excursions, you will need to wear non-cotton layers, from the layer closest to you to the outermost layer, including socks. Jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts are cotton and therefore not appropriate for this trip's outdoor activities. Wool, silk, nylon, polypropylene, fleece, etc. are all good; cotton at any percentage is not good. Please look at all your clothing's labels to make sure you have layers that they are anything except cotton. This is CRITICAL for your safety. Remember, we have some gear you may borrow. When driving in the van or at the hostel when we're inside, there's no problems wearing cotton.

Please plan to wear mostly the same layers every day that you are doing winter sports on this trip. We will all expect to wear the same shirts/fleeces/pants every day for days in a row - all part of the fun, and don't worry, the smell is dulled in the winter! You may bring two sets of base layers at most if you have them; if you have two different weights, that's great. The only exception is fresh underwear (briefs/boxers) for each day and if you have it, fresh wool socks for every day.

  • Outdoor Adventure online waiver
  • Personal Medications
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick/Lip Balm Sun protection
  • Sunglasses or Goggles Sun and Wind protection
  • Bandana Versatile: sweat rag, hankie, napkin, etc.
  • Gloves and/or Mittens Recommend both if you have them, one lighter, one heavier, especially if you have hands that chill easily
  • Thick Wool Socks: Keeps your feet warm when your body is prioritizing warming your core; an extra pair is advised; mid-weight or mountaineering socks
  • Snow Boots or Hiking Boots: these should keep your feet comfortable, warm, and dry; waterproof, insulated recommended; break them in prior to the trip. These will be worn for fat biking and hiking.
  • Balaclava, Buff, Face Mask, or Scarf: Warms oxygen entering the body and protects the face and neck from the cold air (non-cotton)
  • *Wool or Fleece Hat
  • Underwear (briefs/boxers, etc. and sports bras) Ideally non-cotton, wicks sweat off your skin.
  • Base layer (Top and Bottom) Closest to skin layer; wicks sweat off your skin; typically this is synthetic and long sleeves; no cotton (t-shirts will collect your sweat and feel cold and heavy).
  • *Middle layer Insulating layer; retains body heat to protect you from the cold; fleece and/or flannel recommended
  • *Outer layer Shell Layer; shields you from wind and rain. This is your winter coat and your snow pants. It should be easy to do a lot of physical activity in. (Down items or down-alternative will feel very humid and sticky when being active and are thus not recommended except as an extra outer layer.) More layers are better than one big fat layer, if you have several lighter weight options, that is recommended
  • *Extra outer layer Useful for when stopped on trail or mountaintop; down or down-alternative is ideal for this purpose, or a large fleece, and large enough so it is easy to add on, and easy to remove when moving again
  • *Headlamp smart safety addition
  • *2 Water Bottles Hydration
  • *Backpack to carry your extra layers, water and snacks
  • Extra dry socks and shoes Recommend having a dry pair of shoes and socks for the drive to and from activities, so you can start and end with dry and happy feet
  • Money For food on the road and/or possible souvenirs
  • *Gaiters ankle protection to keep snow and ice out of shoes
  • Optional: Camera (or camera phone). A protective case is highly recommended. Turn phone to airplane mode to preserve battery (and enjoy nature)
  • Optional: Lightweight book or journal Great for the van or down-time on the trip
  • Optional: Multi-tool or pocketknife
  • Optional: Lightweight battery pack & charging cables
  • Hostelclothes & slippers, etc. Additional clothes/supplies for the driving days and down-time in the hostel. These items may be cotton.
  • Optional: Winter Sleeping bag & tent for optional winter camping experience
  • **Activity Specific Gear Snowshoes, Micro-spikes, Gaiters, Hiking poles, extra layers upon request.

*All items with an asterisk are available to check-out and included in the cost of your registration.

Two people walk into the sunlight on a snow covered trail in the woods.

Any personal equipment you wish to bring will be reviewed by the trip leaders. If you have any personal equipment (skis, boots) that you would like to bring, please bring it to the first required pre-trip meeting so trip leaders can make sure it is appropriate for the needs of this trip.

OAP will provide all the necessary group items, including snowshoes, microspikes, food and cooking supplies, first aid kit, emergency communication device, and maps. All gear necessary for the activity will be rented by the OAP from the individual vendors in Lake Placid. No extra costs for any gear you use!

We will do a full gear shakedown the day before we leave, where we will go through every individual's gear, so each person is confident they have the right winter gear.

Check out our other upcoming trips on our Trips and Events Calendar webpage


Please ask us any questions you may have about the trip or the Outdoor Adventure Program!