School Activities


The Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School is the oldest climbing school in the East, and has been offering technical rock climbing instruction outdoors since 1968. The School is fully accredited by the AMERICAN MOUNTAIN GUIDES ASSOCIATION (AMGA) and all of our climbing instructors are AMGA-Certified as Single Pitch Instructors, or higher. EMS CLIMBING GUIDES have technical knowledge and experience to deliver the most up-to-date instruction, but they never forget that your satisfaction and enjoyment come first. As much as they love repeat customers, their true measure of success is when they encounter former students enjoying the crags on their own.

Our most popular rock climbing class is Rock Climbing 101. This intro level rock climbing class is perfect for anyone interested in climbing outdoors for the first time. Whether you’ve climb indoors at a gym, or never climbed before- this class is perfect for you. Classes take place outdoors on real rock at some of the best climbing crags in the East including Cathedral and Whitehorse ledge in North Conway and the Gunks in New Paltz. We teach you everything to get started including selecting and fitting equipment, safety around the climbing site, climbing commands, proper belay technique, climbing technique, and of course plenty of actual climbing time. If you are looking for a more comprehensive class then check out our two-day Fast Track to rock climbing course. This two-day class combines Rock Climbing 101 and Rock Climbing 201 into two back to back days. Rock Climbing Fast Track is a great course for those who are serious about picking up the sport of rock climbing. Once you’ve got some climbing under your belt be sure to come back for a Top Rope Setup course or Learn to Lead course.

ROCK CLIMBING is available seven days a week by private arrangement, or you can join a scheduled class on select dates. Gift Certificates for rock climbing lessons and guided climbs are also available.

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Each rock climbing location offers a slightly different lineup of classes. Please select a location to view programs in your area. NORTH CONWAY, NH NEW PALTZ (GUNKS), NY LAKE PLACID, NY BOSTON AREA CONNECTICUT


Our winter climbing programs range from basic single day ice climbing and mountaineering instruction to technical multi-day mountaineering workshops on the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If you are training for a climb of MT. RAINIER (14,410FT), or simply want to give ice climbing a try, we’e got a full line up of programs that will challenge and inspire you.

Our most popular winter climbing programs include Winter Climbing 101, Accelerated Mountaineering and the classic winter ascent of Mt. Washington (6,288ft) in New Hampshire. These programs require no previous ice climbing or mountaineering experience and all technical climbing equipment is provided at no extra cost. Equipment provided for all programs includes plastic mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axes, harness, helmet, and all climbing hardware. Equipment is checked by your EMS guides and replaced when needed on a regular basis to ensure you are using the most up to date gear for your climbing lesson.

Training with the EMS Climbing School will give you a the necessary skills to embark on any technical climbing adventure. Each season we are joined by climbers traveling to snow covered peaks all over the world including MT. RAINIER (14,410FT) in Washington, MT. MCKINLEY (20,320FT) in Alaska’s Denali National Park, and the MATTERHORN (14,692FT) on the border between Switzerland and Italy in the Alps. Most of these climbers are from the east coast and are looking for a cost effective way to learn necessary technical ice climbing and mountaineering skills before their trip. The mountains of the Northeast are not the tallest, but they do provide easy access to some of the most extreme winter conditions in the world.

Climbing is available seven days a week by private arrangement, or you can join a scheduled class on select dates. Gift Certificates for climbing lessons and guided trips are also available.

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Each climbing location offers a slightly different lineup of classes. Please select a location to view programs in your area. NORTH CONWAY, NH NEW PALTZ (GUNKS), NY LAKE PLACID, NY CONNECTICUT


In 2006, we accepted our responsibility to our students and the winter adventure community as a whole by offering nationally recognized AMERICAN INSTITUTE AVALANCHE RESEARCH AND EDUCATION (AIARE) courses. AIARE is a nationally recognized curriculum for avalanche education in the U.S., so you know you can trust the information and techniques we teach in the courses below. We are proud to be the largest provider of avalanche training in the East with an AIARE 2 course leader and four AIARE 1 course instructors on staff.

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We offer an assortment of free-heel and touring programs for everyone from backcountry veterans and first-time skiers to die-hard Alpine skiers seeking new challenges. Lessons and guided ski trips are available in the Mt. Washington area of New Hampshire from our North Conway Climbing School, and at WACHUSETT MOUNTAIN SKI AREA in eastern Massachusetts.

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Kayaking is the second largest program at the EMS Schools. We offer instruction and guided tours from locations in Lake Placid, the Boston Area, and Rhode Island.

Kayak instruction programs range from three-hour paddle strokes lessons and ocean kayaking, to multi-day ACA Level 5 open water kayak instructor certification courses. Our most popular classes are the one-day Kayak Strokes and Rescues class and two-day Open Water Fast Track course. These programs are great for paddlers who have not taken any formal kayak instruction and are looking for coaching from ACA certified kayak instructors. Classes are kept small, usually between three and six participants, and instruction is very hands on.

In addition to lessons we also offer a wide selection of tours at locations outside Boston and throughout the coastal areas of Rhode Island. Tours are fun for any skill level and are a great summer activity to do with the family. All equipment is provided for each person including kayak, paddle and PFD. All you need to do is show up with proper footwear (no sandals), pack a snack and water and dress appropriate for the weather. We take care of the rest!

All of our paddling instructors are certified by the AMERICAN CANOE ASSOCIATION (ACA). The ACA is the accepted governing body of paddle sports in the U.S., because it provides the most consistent and comprehensive instructor training and certification programs. Roughly translated, when you learn from us, you learn from experienced paddlers who are current on the latest techniques and best practices. Most important, our guides and focus on helping you have as much fun as possible in a sport that you don’t have to be superstrong or ultrafit to enjoy.

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The sport of Paddleboarding (aka “SUP”) has taken the northeast by storm and it’s here to stay. As a Schools we caught on quick and have been enjoying the sport and perfecting our teaching skills to deliver superior service. We purchased our first board in 2010 and have expanded our programs to include lessons for beginners, fitness classes and tours. All of our paddleboarding instructors are certified through the American Canoe Association (ACA) and are first aid and CPR certified. When they are not teaching you will most likely find them out surfing the waves in Newport or on a long fitness paddle off Wickford Harbor in Narragansett Bay.

Paddleboarding is a sport for everyone and is great for kids and adults. You don’t need to be super fit to paddleboard and with a few quick pointers you will be on your way to having fun in any type of condition. Our paddleboarding programs include intro classes which focus on getting you acclimated to the board, balance, paddle strokes, and becoming more efficient with each stroke you take. Lesson are held at various locations throughout Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts, and Lake Placid New York. Paddleboard tours are also available and most trips do not require any previous paddleboarding experience. Tours are also available in Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts. In 2013 we added a fitness component to our paddleboard lineup. With a few certified fitness trainers on staff who have a passion for paddleboarding, we were able to launch ourselves into the world of SUP Fit. If you love to exercise and love to be in a fun group environment, you must try our SUP Fitness classes. They are great for any skill level and are sure to make you sweat! Classes available in Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts and are taught by certified ACA SUP/ Fitness Instructors.

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Hiking is an excellent, low impact way to enjoy the outdoors. Access has been made easy by conservation organizations who work hard to ensure future generations have access to wild areas throughout the east. while we don’t offer many hiking trips, we have teamed up with some great organizations to bring to you unique hiking and snowshoeing opportunities.

CLICK HERE to view all Hiking & Snowshoeing.