Frequently Asked Questions

Reservations & General Information
Rock Climbing
Ice Climbing & Mountaineering
Paddling

Cancellation Policy

Payment is due in full at the time of booking to secure your reservation.  Events run rain or shine.  Eastern Mountain Sports Schools reserves the right to cancel or reschedule events for low participation, weather, or safety concerns at any time.  We will try to give as much advance notice as possible but may not always be able to give much advance warning, especially for weather cancellations.

Requests from our guests for cancellations or schedule changes more than 14 days prior to the program start date will be fully refunded or credited with no penalty.*  Cancellations from 8 to 14 days from the program start date will not be refunded, but scheduling changes to reservations may be granted based on availability.  Cancellations or reservation changes within 7 days will not be refunded and you will not be allowed to reschedule or carry over deposits to future events.  Please mark the last day to cancel on your calendar after making your reservation.

Cancellations due to weather are determined only by EMS Schools and the guides – we will not make a weather cancellation at a guest’s behest.  Please note that forecasts change frequently and are rarely accurate more than a day or so out.  If it is determined a program needs to be canceled based on weather, we will call and/or email you prior to your reservation.  This may not always be far in advance of your reservation, so we suggest purchasing travel insurance if you are coming from afar.  If we do not reach out to you, your program will run as scheduled.  A full refund or rescheduling option will be available for those canceled due to weather.

Please remember that if you are joining a pre-scheduled group lesson/tour, your reservation will be pending sufficient enrollment.  If the minimum number of participants is not met, we will offer you the option of upgrading to a private lesson, or we will reschedule or refund you.  NOTE:  If you do not arrive on time for a group lesson/tour, we reserve the right to start without you and you will not be rescheduled or refunded.

We highly recommend looking into travel insurance if you are at all concerned that life events may get in the way of your ability to come out with us.  If you have any questions, please call 845-668-2030.  We will be more than happy to review our cancellation policy with you.

*NOTE:  Some of our programs have a different time frame for cancellations.  If you are booking with a large group or organization, are taking our AMGA or AIARE courses, or are doing our MWOBS overnight trip, cancellations and schedule changes can only be made more than 30 days prior to a lesson/tour.  Your confirmation email will contain policy information specific to these courses.

Reservations & General Information

– All outings with EMS Schools are smoke, drug, and alcohol-free.  And although we love our furry friends, please leave all non-human animals at home.  Thank you!

Q: How do I make a reservation?
A: Reservations for pre-scheduled group classes can be made online any time or by calling 845-668-2030.  Private, organized group, and family programs can only be booked over the phone (845-668-2030).  All bookings must be paid for in full before the reservation is confirmed.

Q: Where are your Schools located?
A: The EMS Schools operates programs all over the northeast.  Our main office is located in North Conway, NH.  We also have offices in New Paltz (Gunks), NY and Lake Placid, NY.  To reach our Schools between the hours of 8:30am and 4:30pm, please call 845-668-2030.

Q: What if it rains or the weather is bad?
A: Events run rain or shine.  However, we reserve the right to cancel for any reason, including hazardous weather conditions.  If severe weather is foretasted for your day, we will notify you the day beforehand to cancel and reschedule, if possible.  There is no penalty to you if a cancellation is made on our end due to weather.  You are welcome to a full refund if we cannot reschedule you.  Please note that weather cancellations are determined only by EMS Schools.

Q: I made a reservation but did not receive a confirmation.
A: A confirmation email will be sent to you the same day your reservation is made.  If you’ve made a reservation but have not received a confirmation email, please call 845-668-2030 or email [email protected] to verify your email address is correct.  We would be more than happy to send you a new copy.

Q: How do I redeem my 10% off EMS shopping discount?
A: Upon making a reservation, you will be emailed a 10% off EMS shopping discount.  This discount can be used up until 30 days after your program.  Please present the confirmation email to an EMS associate at any Eastern Mountain Sports store at time of checkout.

Q: What if something comes up last minute and I need to cancel?  Do I get a refund?
A: If you need to cancel please do so within the specific time frame allowed for your lesson.  No refunds will be given for last-minute cancellations; changes to reservations may be granted based on guide availability.  Please mark your trip date on your calendar.  Travel insurance is also highly recommended.

Q: Where should I stay?
A: North Conway Lodging OptionsNew Paltz Lodging OptionsLake Placid Lodging Options

Rock Climbing

Q: What is the difference between a private climbing day and joining a group class?
A: Private classes are custom tailored to the individual and are available any day of the week. Private reservations do not have to reach a minimum enrollment to run and are guaranteed to run barring rain and bad weather. Private reservations are great for those who wish to have more personalized instruction, who have a narrow window of availability or just want a guide to themselves without being matched with other climbers in a group. Joining a pre-scheduled group class: If you have a flexible schedule and don’t mind being matched with other climbers, then joining a pre-scheduled class is a great cost-savings option. Group classes require a minimum number of participants to run and may be cancelled by us if there is low enrollment. Joining a group class is a very popular option for new climbers. Class dates and prices can be found online, and reservations can be made online or by phone.

Q: What rock climbing equipment do you provide?
A: The EMS Climbing School will provide all participants with technical rock climbing equipment for each day’s climb at no extra cost. This includes rock shoes, harness, helmet, climbing hardware and ropes. If you have your own equipment you are more than welcome to use it (please note that it will be subject to inspection by the guide). There is no discount if you provide your own climbing equipment. Please see gear list for items you will be responsible for bringing.

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: A complete gear list is available online. Please read through the gear list before you arrive for items you will be responsible for bringing. In general you should be dressed appropriately for the weather, pack a lunch & water, have a backpack, and wear closed-toe shoes on your feet (no sandals).

Q: Where do we climb?
A: Your exact climbing location is usually determined when you arrive in the morning for your lesson. Guides make the decision where to climb based on knowledge of traffic at the crag, weather, and skill level of the group. This is all taken into consideration on the morning you arrive at the Climbing School.

Q: What is your guide to climber ratio?
A: Guide to climber ratio for a basic top rope climbing day is 1:6 (1:4 in The Gunks). Multi-pitch climbing days run at 1:3 guide to climber ratio. If you have more than the maximum number allowed in your group, additional guides can be added to satisfy the ratio requirements. Please contact us if you have questions about climbing ratios.

Q: How much of the day is spent climbing?
A: Most of the day takes place at the cliff. In the morning you will meet your guide, get outfitted with gear, then drive to the climbing site. EMS does not provide transportation so please be prepared to transport yourself and all group members to and from the cliff. Actual climbing time comes down to the size of the group and your willingness to participate. To maximize climbing time we recommend booking a full day private lesson and keep the guide to climber ratio small (1:2).

Q: My spouse/child wants to climb but I only want to watch. Is this okay?
A: If you are only along for viewing purposes and do not wish to participate then you must still register and pay in full to be with the group. Climbing guides are responsible for managing the climbing site and everyone that is there no matter if you are climbing or watching. This rule is in place for the safety of climbers and the guide. Special all-inclusive family rates are available for families with kids 15 years old and younger.

Q: Where do we meet our guide?
A: Groups typically meet at 8:30am (9am in West Hartford and Boston). Please refer to your confirmation email for meeting time and location. This was sent to you upon booking your trip.

Q: Can I request a specific guide?
A: Yes. If you would like to climb with a specific guide please let us know when making your reservation. We will do our best to match you with them. Check out our guides here.

Q: What if it rains?
A: We reserve the right to cancel for any reason, including rain and hazardous weather conditions. If heavy rain is forecasted for your climbing day we will notify you the day before to cancel and reschedule, if possible. There is no penalty to you if a cancellation is made on our end due to weather. You are welcome to a full refund or to reschedule. Please note that weather cancellations are determined only by EMS Schools.

Q: What if something comes up last minute and I need to cancel? Do I get a refund?
A: If you need to cancel please do so within the specific time frame allowed for your lesson (the specifics will be in your confirmation). No refunds will be given for last-minute reservation changes or cancellations. Please mark the reservation date on your calendar and purchase travel insurance if you are coming from afar.

Q: Are children allowed to climb?
A: YES, OF COURSE!! We encourage families with kids to get out and climb with the School as much as possible. In addition to great exercise, climbing challenges the mind, too. To make it easier on families, we have put together a discounted rate for families with any child age 15 or younger. This can be any combination of family and friends. The only thing you need to qualify for the family rate is for one person in the group to be age 15 or younger. The full day family climbing rate is $400 for up to 6 people (4 in The Gunks) and includes all climbing equipment. If you have more than the maximum in your group an additional $400 will be charged for an additional guide.

Q: At what age can you join a climbing class?
A: Our pre-scheduled group rock climbing classes are reserved for people age 16 and older. Please remember that if you are signing up your 16 or 17 year old child to climb, you must sign a waiver form on their behalf and you must be available to provide transportation to and from the cliff in the morning and at the end of the day. For this reason, we encourage parents with kids who do not drive and are not 18 to sign up with their kids or book a private lesson.

Q: Can I tip my guide?
A: Tipping is never expected, but always appreciated. If you enjoyed your climbing day and would like to thank your guide, please feel free to do so.

Ice Climbing & Mountaineering

Q: What is the difference between a private climbing day and joining a group class?
A: Private classes are custom tailored to the individual and are available any day of the week. Private reservations do not have to reach a minimum enrollment to run and are guaranteed to run barring poor weather. Private reservations are great for those who wish to have more personalized instruction, who have a narrow window of availability or just want a guide to themselves without being matched with other climbers in a group. Joining a group class: If you have a flexible schedule and don’t mind being matched with other climbers, then joining a class is a great cost savings option. Classes require a minimum of two participants to run and may be cancelled up until the day prior if there is low enrollment. Joining a group class is a very popular option for new climbers. Class dates and prices can be found online, and reservations can be made online 24/7.

Q: What if the weather is bad?
A: We reserve the right to cancel for any reason, including hazardous weather conditions. In the winter it’s rare to cancel a class because of weather unless road travel is hazardous. If we do need to cancel there is no penalty to you. You are welcome to a full refund or to reschedule. Please do not assume a class is cancelled unless you hear from us first.

Q: Is it necessary to show up early for my program?
A: No. The time listed on your confirmation is the time you should be at the door waiting to enter the Climbing School. If you arrive early please be patient and wait until one of our guides opens the door. You may see some activity inside prior to the doors opening as our guides need time in the morning to organize gear and get ready to start the day.

Q: What climbing equipment do you provide?
A: The EMS Climbing School will provide all participants with technical ice climbing & mountaineering equipment for each day’s climb at no extra cost. This includes plastic mountaineering boots, ice axes, crampons, harness, helmet, climbing hardware and ropes. If you have your own equipment you are more than welcome to use it. There is no discount if you provide your own climbing equipment. Please see gear list for items you will be responsible for bringing.

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: A complete gear list is available online. Please read through the gear list before you arrive for items you will be responsible for bringing. In general you should be dressed appropriately for the weather, pack a lunch & water, and have a backpack. Feel free to call us at 845-668-2030 and we’ll be happy to go over the gear list more thoroughly.

Q: Do I need everything on the gear list? What if I forget something?
A: ALL ITEMS ON THE GEAR LIST ARE REQUIRED UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. PLEASE READ OVER GEAR LIST CAREFULLY PRIOR TO ARRIVING AT THE SCHOOL. Depending on the item you forget we may be able to accommodate you before heading to the cliff. Not all School locations have access to a retail store so please do not wait until the morning of your program to purchase items on the gear list. If you are missing an item that we can not give you, you may be asked to sit out on the class. Click here for gear list.

Q: Do people usually buy their own boots or are most fine with the ones you provide?
A: Many of our climbers choose to use our boots, as new boots can be pricey. For a good all-around pair of ice climbing/mountaineering boots you should look to spend around $350-$450. These boots usually have a durable plastic outer shell and synthetic inner boot liner (similar to an alpine ski boot). If you plan to continue climbing it may be worth investing in a pair since rentals can add up over time. Having your own boots allows you to break them in to fit your foot and you always have them available for those last-minute adventures. Higher end boots ($600-$800) are often lighter, warmer, and more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Do your research and ask around before committing to a pair. You can also ask your guide what they recommend (or just look at their feet!).

Q: Where do we climb?
A: Your exact climbing location is usually determined when you arrive in the morning for your lesson. Guides make the decision where to climb based on a lot of factors including ice/snow conditions, weather, and skill level of the group. This is all taken into consideration on the morning you arrive at the Climbing School.

Q: What is your guide to climber ratio?
A: Guide to climber ratio for a basic ice climbing/mountaineering climbing day is 1:4. Multi-pitch and more technical climbing days run at 1:3 or 1:2 guide to climber ratio. If you have more than the maximum number allowed in your group, additional guides can be added to satisfy the ratio requirements. Please contact us if you have questions about climbing ratios.

Q: How much of the day is spent climbing?
A: Most of the day takes place outside. In the morning you will meet your guide, get fitted with gear, then drive to the climbing site. EMS does not provide transportation so please be prepared to transport yourself and all group members to and from the cliff. Actual climbing time comes down to the size of the group, weather and snow/ice conditions and your ability and willingness to participate. To maximize climbing time we recommend booking a full day private lesson and keep the guide to climber ratio small (1:2).

Q: My spouse/child wants to climb but I only want to watch. Is this okay?
A: If you are only along for viewing purposes and do not wish to participate then you must still register and pay in full to be with the group. Climbing guides are responsible for managing the climbing site and everyone that is there no matter if you are climbing or watching. This rule is in place for the safety of climbers and the guide. Almost all of our winter programs are reserved for those age 18 or older, so please call 845-668-2030 to talk to us about options for those under 18.

Q: Where do we meet our guide?
A: Groups typically meet at 8:30am (9am in West Hartford). Please refer to your confirmation for meeting time and location. This was emailed to you upon booking your trip.

Q: Can I request a specific guide?
A: Yes. If you would like to climb with a specific guide please let us know when making your reservation. We will do our best to match you with them. Check out all our guides here.

Q: What if something comes up last minute and I need to cancel? Do I get a refund?
A: If you need to cancel please do so two weeks or more before your lesson. No refunds will be given for reservation cancellations within two weeks of your program date and we will not reschedule you once we get within one week of your program date. Please mark this date on your calendar and purchase travel insurance if you are coming from afar.

Q: At what age can you join a climbing class?
A: Most of our winter climbing classes are reserved for adults 18 and older. 16 or 17 year olds may join some of our winter programs (please contact us for specifics). Please remember that if you are signing up your 17 year old or younger child to climb you must be present to sign a waiver form and you must be available to provide transportation to and from the cliff or trail head in the morning and at the end of the day. For this reason we encourage parents with kids who do not drive and are not 18 to sign up with their kids.

Q: Can I tip my guide?
A: Tipping is never expected, but always appreciated. If you enjoyed your climbing day and would like to thank your guide, please feel free to do so.

Kayaking/Paddleboarding

Q: What paddling equipment do you provide?
A: The EMS Paddle School provides all technical equipment for all programs. This includes appropriate kayak or SUP, PFD, and paddle at no extra cost. If you have your own equipment you are more than welcome to bring it along. Kayaks must be appropriate for the class you are enrolled for. If you have questions please call the School at 845-668-2030. Please see gear list for items you will be responsible for bringing.

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: A complete gear list is available online. Please read through the gear list before you arrive for items you will be responsible for bringing. In general you should be dressed appropriately for the weather, pack a lunch, snacks & water, and wear closed-toe shoes (preferably water shoes).

Q: What if it rains or the weather is bad?
A: We reserve the right to cancel for any reason, including heavy rain and hazardous weather conditions. If heavy rain/high winds are foretasted for your paddling day we will notify you the day beforehand to cancel and reschedule if possible. There is no penalty to you if a cancellation is made on our end due to weather. You are welcome to a full refund or to reschedule. Please note that weather cancellations are only made by EMS Schools and the guides – do not assume your class is cancelled unless you hear from the School.

Q: Do I need to know how to swim?
A: No. Swimming is not required for any paddle program unless otherwise specified. All paddlers wear Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) and your instructor or guide is always close by to help if you do go over.

Q: At what age can you join a paddle lesson or tour?
A: Paddle lessons and tours are reserved for those age 18 and older. Please see below for children 17 years and younger.

Q: What is your instructor to paddler ratio?
A: Instructor to paddler ratio for kayak & SUP lessons is usually 1:6. In some cases, like with our rolling classes, we keep ratios smaller, 1:3. Please contact us if you have questions about paddling ratios.

Q: How much of the day is spent paddling?
A: Most of the day takes place on the water. At the beginning of your program you will meet your guide, get outfitted with equipment, and then maybe do some quick dry-land instruction. For the most part we will be on the water.

Q: My child or spouse wants to paddle but I only want to watch. Is this okay?
A: If you are only along for viewing purposes and do not wish to participate, then you may do so from shore and away from the group, as not to distract the students and instructors.

Q: Where and when do we meet the group?
A: As meeting times and locations vary, please refer to your confirmation for where to meet and when. A confirmation email was sent to you upon booking your trip. Please do not wait until the last minute to map out a route to the meeting area and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Programs start promptly at the time listed on the confirmation.

Q: Can I request a specific guide?
A: Yes. If you would like to paddle with a specific guide please let us know when making your reservation. We will do our best to match you with that person. Check out all our guides here.

Q: What if something comes up last minute and I need to cancel? Do I get a refund?
A: If you need to cancel please do so two weeks or more before your lesson. No refunds will be given for reservation cancellations within two weeks of your program date and we will not reschedule you once we get within one week of your program date. Please mark this date on your calendar and purchase travel insurance if you are coming from afar.

Q: I have kids. What are my options for setting up a paddle lesson or tour?
A: If you are a family with children under 18, please give a call to 845-668-2030 to discuss a private family paddling day.

Q: Can I tip my guide?
A: Tipping is never expected, but always appreciated. If you enjoyed your paddling day and would like to thank your guide, please feel free to do so.

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