Do I Have To Learn How To Snowshoe?
The idea of the snowshoe is to spread your weight so you don’t sink into the snow; or at least not nearly so much, giving access to places impossible on foot. Going up hill is made easier with the use of a heel lift feature which means there’s less strain on your calf muscles. Grip is provided by small metal spikes (crampons) under the snowshoe that will stop you slipping on hard snow or patches of ice. At the front there are “claws” or “front points” which provide grip when going directly up steep slopes
About Advanced and Basic snowshoes
Ski or Trekking Poles
A pair of ski poles / trekking poles with large “snowbaskets” can aid your stability and also provide additional impetus to your stride.
You don’t need special boots; a pair of good walking boots / snow boots is ideal, with gaiters or a pair of trousers with a snow cuff the ideal companion to avoid snow entering the top of your boots.
No special clothes are needed. Warm clothes e.g. fleece jackets, wind/waterproof jacket, hat, gloves as you would wear for walking in the winter.
Don’t forget your sunglasses and some sun cream! A small rucksack is also recommended to carry an extra warm top, a drink and snacks.
Our trips in 2021 and 2022
Week: Winter Walking & Spa Week – 7 Days, 5 Days Snowshoe
Long weekend: Snowshoe and Champagne mini break
Days and Half days: Snowshoe, ski and more, family winter fun
When to go
You can go snowshoeing anywhere there is snow! In ski resorts, you will often find waymarked “raquette” paths, which are especially good for beginners. On paths and tracks you don’t need much depth of snow, however, going through woods it’s best with a bit more that covers obstacles like tree roots, pine cones and stones. Snow comes in varying depths and quality so you will gather experience moving across the different types, for example exposed slopes may be more compact than in a beach forest.
The ground can be flat, undulating or even steeper. The world’s your oyster!
Snow-shoeing doesn’t have a steep learning curve, but a few tips will soon have you moving around confidently enjoying a new-found freedom. On icy ground the metal spikes come in handy to enhance grip.
Snow-shoeing On the Flat…
Your style of walking will need to take account of the width of the snowshoe and to avoid stepping on the other snowshoe. It’s best to start out on a level path or track whilst you get accustomed to them. Turning around is best accomplished by turning in small steps until facing in the new direction or doing a ‘kick turn’.
Going downhill is easiest, and the most fun, in deep powdery snow. Raise the toe slightly allowing the tail of the snowshoe to come into contact with the snow first. Try to walk confidently with a good transfer of weight from one foot to the other. The snowshoe may slide forward a bit but avoid the temptation to lean back. You can use your pole to provide extra balance but avoid using them directly in front of your body. On firm snow place the snowshoe flat on the ground so that the crampons can ‘bite’.
Unless it’s a very short distance, ‘zig-zag’ up the slope using the terrain to best advantage. This puts less strain on the legs and you’ll gain height surprisingly easily. If you encounter a very steep bank you can use the ‘claws’/‘front points’ of the snowshoe.
This is easiest in soft snow conditions where you can still place the snowshoe down normally. When the snow is firm you will need to roll the ankle to allow the snowshoe to lie flat on the slope, thus allowing the crampons to bite.
Pole length and adapring your snowshoes to the angle
Your guide will help you get the most out of your equipment by making adjustments to take strain off your carves or make the most comfortable position possible and length of your ski poles which can not only drive you up the slope when shortened but can be lengthened down hill or used as stabalizers when crossing a slope.
If you’re snow-shoeing avoid walking on prepared ‘pistes’ for cross-country skiers as the railway like ‘tracks’ are damaged by walking on them. Skiers may also approach fast and you don’t want to be involved in a collision. In ski resorts try and avoid the pistes but if you have to, cross quickly or walk up or down the edge of the piste.
Naturally if you go into more mountainous terrain you should be aware of the risk of avalanches. You should then carry normal avalanche equipment (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe) and most importantly know how to use it. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be ba]
Stop and Listen
Experience peaceful nature, water or snow falling fro trees, a sign of a winter animal, absorb it, in a perfect setting.
Take a drink bottle rather than a bladder in winter due to issues with freezing.
When booking a trip we ask you to acquire insurance to cover you for the following:
Mountain Rescue Insurance
It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical expenses, injury, illness, death, mountain rescue, cost of repatriation and personal accident risks. Please ensure that your insurance covers you to the maximum altitude given on your trip itinerary. The maximum altitude for any trip can be checked on the ‘At A Glance’ box on each trip page. Most of our trips have a maximum altitude of 3,000 metres. If you are unsure or are joining a bespoke trip, then please ask us for specific details.
Trip Cancellation/Curtailment Insurance
You should also have insurance to cover trip cancellation and curtailment. Please note that your deposit and balance payments are non-refundable, unless it is Tracks and Trails who cancel the trip due to a failure to reach the required minimum numbers. In this case we will offer you a refund or the option of transferring to another trip if one is available. We also advise that you should have insurance which covers baggage loss/equipment damage as Tracks and Trails will not be held responsible for loss/damage to baggage/equipment.
As well as medical cover, we recommend that you have appropriate travel insurance so that if you fall ill and test positive for COVID-19 prior to (or during) your trip, you will be financially covered for cancelling your trip. You should also consider booking a policy that covers you if you have to cancel or curtail your holiday because you have to self-isolate. If you choose to cancel, cancellation charges will be payable, but if the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges. Please read the clauses below detailing trip cancellation and curtailment.
Travel Insurance covering COVID-19 is now available from a number of suppliers, Campbell Irvine, Trailfinders and Staysure.