Cover Stories

Try Some Off-beat Winter Adventures

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Skating, skiing, sledding: if you’ve lived in the North for a few winters or more, you’ve done them all. If the typical winter activities have worn as thin as your 20-year-old mittens, try these more unusual adventures.


Whether participating just for a day or for a season-long team membership, curling is a challenging winter sport. The ancient Scottish team sport combines elements of bowling and shuffleboard on a sheet of ice. Players try to advance their teammate’s “stone” towards the goal by sweeping a clear path on the ice. The opposing players take turns throwing their stones towards the goal with a side objective of knocking out opponents’ stones. Rochester Curling Club (, 585-235-8246) is the place to go to learn about how and where to play.

Zipline riding

Although ziplines are spectacular for leaf peeping, they’re also a fun way to soar through the sparkling winter mountain scenery. While securely strapped into a safety harness, zipline riders get a bird’s-eye view, along with the adrenaline rush of flying through the treetops. At Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures ride seven ziplines measuring a total of more than 5,000 feet. At Greek Peak Mountain Resort, guests can take a two-line ziplining tour that lasts approximately 2 hours.

Ice fishing

Even if you’re not an angler during the warmer months, ice fishing can offer another reason to get outside during the winter. Ice fishing spots abound in the Rochester area ( Of course, ice fishing requires dressing in layers, starting with a moisture-wicking layer that’s not cotton and ending with a moisture proof layer, as with any other outdoor activity. But it’s also vital to wear cleats to improve stability and to bring extra pairs of gloves to always have a dry pair available. Ice should be a minimum of 4 inches thick for walking safely. For driving a snowmobile or ATV, it must be 5 inches. Vehicles require 8-15 inches.

Ice climbing

Elevate your winter experience through ice climbing. Even experienced climbers can tackle all-new terrain each winter as frozen waterfalls and rock-glazed ice is never the same. Sometimes, a location changes within the same season as the ice thaws and refreezes. Rochester Rock, Ice & Snow Climbing Club ( can help you get started. A few places to find ice climbing venues include Angel Falls in Hi Tor’s Conklin Gully near Naples, which is 120 feet. Another is Clark’s Gully on South Hill on the southern end of Canandaigua Lake that offers a 120 drop. The book 200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York: A Finders’ Guide by Rich and Sue Freeman (available on and Waterfalls and Gorges of the Finger Lakes by Derek Doeffinger and Frank H. T. Rhodes offers more suggestions.

Fat biking

Avid cyclists or even occasional cyclists don’t have to forgo pedaling for the winter. Fat bikes are made to accommodate tires about 4 inches wide. They provide better grip on the ice and offer improved traction. They’re also good for sand and mud and softer mountain biking trails, so it’s not just a “winter bike.” Check out The Bike Zone (585-225-7960), Bert’s Bikes & Fitness (585-424-2777) and Growler Bikes (833-328-8473), all in Rochester, for gear. Ride fat bikes anyplace open to bicycling, from bike lanes to trails.