Peter Greenberg | Downhill from here: No snow? No problem


Keep calm — it will snow! We hate to think of winter as a time to stay indoors, but rather as a time to slip on those snowshoes that have been gathering dust in the closet, click into our skis or take a hike on a snowy evening with a full moon.

In general, we love to be outdoors, weather permitting, making our hearts pump a little harder, and then ending it all with a cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea and maybe some kind of sweet treat. Making sure to get outdoors in the winter, whether there is snow on the ground or not, is a very important way to resist seasonal depression and help keep you healthy, support your immune system and strengthen your body.

I am a skiing fanatic and without skiing I feel lost. During the 2010-2011 ski season, I managed to get out on the slopes more times than I can count from December through the beginning of April. So far this year, I have tallied a total of 0 days on the hill and it is the beginning of January. Unfortunately, I have had to cancel things, such as snowshoe hiking, which you obviously cannot do without snow. But you can still have many excellent experiences if the weather doesn't cooperate. So what does one do during a minimal snow winter season?

Here are some things to avoid:

Are you buying more stuff? Seriously? Enough is enough! If you cannot ski you do not need more gear to clutter up your home. Unfortunately, as this year's off season continues, it seems to go on and on, and some new toy just appears on the market to grab your attention. My advice is to avoid it. Don't spend the money because you are bored to death.

Also, don't check the weather forecasts more than once a day. I always believed if you check the forecast at least once an hour, maybe a new breaking forecast or miracle will happen — I have learned not to get my hopes up with this delusional thinking!

No snow? No problem! OK you can't ski, snowshoe, skate outdoors, make a snowman, but you can with some imagination keep busy outdoors.

• Hiking is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter without snow, as a family or with friends or on your own.

• Rock climbing is a great way to get outdoors also, although rock climbing does involve some equipment and skill. There are many places to go rock climbing locally. It is also a great way to keep in shape in the off season. There are also places to go rock climbing indoors, if the weather is prohibiting you from going outdoors. In Pittsfield, Mass., you can go to Berkshire Nautilus. They have a climbing tower with six routes, and children's programs.

• Go adventuring and explore unknown territory. First, get a clear vision of what the word "adventure" means to you. Take some time, put on some stimulating music, get excited and think about an adventure. Overcoming one's fears is half the fun of adventuring.

• Skating can be done outdoors if it is cold enough. There are plenty of lakes and ponds in this area. Make sure they are frozen. Unfortunately, this year so far most of the local lakes and ponds are not frozen yet. Skating is a great way to keep in shape for skiing as the movements are very similar to skiing.

There are plenty of activities right here in the Berkshires and Shires of Vermont during the cold winter, even if there is no snow to go skiing, to keep yourself and your family busy, whether you live here or are just visiting.

Peter Greenberg leaned to ski at age 3, and is an avid skier who has taught skiing in the Berkshires for more than 30 years. Email him at


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