When Swarthmore Ski Club leader Jennifer He ’24 sent an email gauging interest in a downhill skiing trip to the mailing list of Outsiders, Swarthmore’s outing club, she expected a strong response. Still, the overwhelming level of student interest took her by surprise.
“We had around 180 sign ups for the trip and only 45 available spots,” said He. “So it obviously had to be a lotteried.”
He, along with fellow Outsiders member Matthew Gutow ’25, recently restarted Swarthmore’s Ski Club, which was inactive throughout the pandemic. On Saturday, Feb. 12, the pair organized a trip to Roundtop Mountain, a ski resort in Lewisberry, PA, around two hours by car from campus.
With a summit height of only 1,335 ft, Roundtop Mountain is less steep than more-popular skiing destinations in the Northeast and Midwest. But according to He, college skiers enjoyed mild weather and favorable conditions on Saturday.
“It was really nice weather, you could get away with just wearing a jacket, we had great conditions,” said He. “It was good that the mountain isn’t incredibly steep because we had a number of beginners and novices.”
Theo Grayer ’22, an attendee of Saturday’s trip, grew up skiing in Western Massachusetts and remembered the disappointment of not being selected for a similar trip during his first year at Swarthmore. For Grayer, Pennsylvania skiing was an adjustment but also a chance to make connections and leave the Swarthmore bubble.
“Pennsylvania is a little flatter than Western Massachusetts, but it is great to ski with friends and meet people I might not have otherwise,” he said.
Gutow and He had been discussinged the idea for a ski trip since the Fall 2021 semester but only began planning once they discovered that they could use the existing charter of the Ski Club to apply for funding. According to He, re-chartering the Ski Club was only a two-week process.
“I heard about Ski Club having been a club that had done ski trips in years past and so got going on getting Ski Club restarted this year with Jennifer,” said Gutow.
According to He, the group received seed funding through SBC to cover last Saturday’s ski trip, which ended up costing approximately $6,000 in total, along with a second one planned for Saturday, Feb. 26.
“It all happened incredibly fast; within the span of two weeks, we made sure the Ski Club was still chartered and applied for funding,” she said.
Gutow described the trip as a success but noted some COVID-19-related logistical issues that could be improved for next time.
“Overall, I think the trip went really well. We got out there and skied, which was the main goal, but taking the Swat vans was a little bit challenging given the current COVID-19 situation,” he said. “So that’s something to improve on, we’re also looking for someone at Roundtop to help us speed up the rental and ticket process.”
The Ski Club is planning a second trip on Feb. 26, and He says a third might be a possibility if conditions and funding permits.
“It’s going to be based on the conditions,” she said. ”The season is really almost over, but we’re hoping to continue doing this.”
Although the newly re-formed organization is mainly planning to organize snow-related activities such as snowboarding, snowshoeing, and both downhill and cross-country skiing, He is brainstorming other possible excursions for the group.
“I was thinking maybe about water skiing since it technically falls under the realm of skiing, “she said, laughing.
The Ski Club is planning future events throughout the semester. Those interested in joining the organization or receiving email updates can reach out to its leadership below:
Jennifer He (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Matthew Gutow (email@example.com)