Winter Skills Course (4-day)
The Winter Skills Course is designed to teach you the essential skills necessary in a cold weather environment. This 4-day/3-night course could be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime. The skills taught are not necessarily limited to the Northeast, they can be applied to other cold weather locations as well. Many of the skills are transferrable to fair weather outings, as well.
Northeast winters can be particularly challenging and offer a unique chance to learn and test your skills in that challenging environment. The experience gained here will give you confidence in your ability to handle other difficult situations that you may find yourself in later. There is no substitute for actual experience, and cold weather “dirt time” is just as important, if not more so, than fair weather.
Cold weather does come with unique challenges when it comes to providing for your needs in the wilderness: Core Temperature Control, Hydration, Calorie Consumption, Rest, First Aid, Navigation, Signal, and Tools. You can expect to learn how to provide for those needs in that setting during this course.
Students will learn:
- Winter Gear Recommendation
- Cold Weather Clothing Choices
- Winter Tinder Resources
- Fire Lays to Maximize Efficiency
- Fire Craft
- Building Effective Winter Shelters
- Procuring and Disinfecting Water in the Cold
- Food Processing and the Importance of Fat in Winter
- Cold Weather Environmental Risks of Exposure
- Regaining Mobility in Deep Snow
- Navigating Across Ice and Snow-Covered Terrain
- Emergency Signaling
- Axe Selection, Safety, and Use
- Saw Selection, Safety, and Use
Students for the Winter Course MUST have completed at least the Wilderness Skills Course prior to enrolling in this course. Due to time constraints, cadre will not have time to bring students up to speed for this course if they do not arrive with the skills taught in that foundational course.
The Winter Skills Course is part of the GB2 Instructor Program. Registered Instructor Candidates will receive credit for this portion of the program upon completion.
This course is a “field course”. Students should expect to be immersed in a wilderness setting for the duration of the course. Restrooms are primitive and on-site. There is no electricity or running water. Vehicles will be parked in a student parking lot and are not accessible while taking the course. Students will sleep in shelters that they themselves construct and cannot leave the premises to stay at a hotel, sleep in their vehicle, or go to town for food.
Food and water will be provided during this course while you are out in the field. Please do not bring any food or snacks. You will be cooking meals yourself using techniques taught during the course. There will be no breaks for lunch. If you have a medical condition that requires it, you may bring snacks for conditions like blood sugar regulation. If you have any food allergies or other dietary restrictions you will need to bring your own food for the course. The diet provided is heavy in fat and red meats for the best calorie-per-gram ratio. If you cannot digest fat (have had your gall bladder removed, for instance) or red meat (tick allergy) you will also need to bring your own food for the course.
The course uses a “crawl, walk, run” method of instruction. Students will first be taught by cadre, followed by the student being required to demonstrate proficiency on their own. This culminates in being able to then perform these skills under various stressors to ensure proficiency.
Students should expect cold, wet weather, and primitive field conditions. Cadre and staff will ensure safety at all times during the course. You should arrive in reasonable physical shape with the required equipment list. Expect to walk several kilometers per day carrying all your equipment in addition to natural resources that you collect that are needed for individual classes. For safety reasons, students must continue to train and apply themselves to remain in the course. If you do not quit on yourself, we will not quit on you. However, if a student chooses not to continue training, the student will be escorted back to their vehicles immediately and must depart the training venue. There will be no refund or credit given to take the course at a later date.
852 New Portland Road, Embden, ME 04958
Course Packing List can be found HERE
Winter Skills Course Preparation
All students must read, agree, and sign a Liability and Release form for GBGB and the venue prior to attending the course. No student will attend training without forms being on file.
Recommended Reading: Surviving the Wild, By Joshua Enyart
Recommended Instructional Video: Winter Skills, Starring Joshua Enyart
There will be no camping available at the Maine Location prior to the start of the course or after the course has been completed due to insurance restrictions.
Winter Skills students will not have access to vehicles for the duration of the course. There will not be access to electricity or running water. Shower facilities are not available. Students will be required to stay in temporary survival shelters that they construct for the nights during this course. Tents, hammock systems, and coolers with food are not authorized at the Maine Campus as all gear must be carried from the Student Parking area to the Base Camp, and students will not be returning to vehicles until completion of the course. Students will not be permitted to leave the campus and stay at a hotel or purchase food while attending the course. No exceptions are made unless you leave the course entirely.
What gear do I need?
Please click the Packing List link above for details.
Is it cold?
Well, yes, it's a Winter Course. There's no bad weather only bad clothing choices! Past students regularly mention this was their best course experience, despite the cold.
Are we walking on snow the whole time?
Yes. The ground is normally several feet below the snow line which is essential to Winter Skills training. Snowshoe techniques are taught and used often during this course.