Thursday, 22 November 2012

How to become a Snowshoe Guide

Many snowshoe guides in Europe hold the International Mountain Leader (IML) qualification. This article is a guide on how to become an IML. If starting from scratch it is quite a long road, certainly a number of years, but it is a lot of fun! First of all you need your Mountain Leader (summer) qualification. For this you need to gain as much  experience as possible walking in different mountainous areas of the UK, some climbing and scrambling would also help. Joining a mountaineering club is probably the best way of meeting like-minded people.

 You then need to be trained and assessed for the ML, a high standard of navigation skill is needed for this. Go to the MLTUK website for further info

Once you have your ML you need to build up your international mountain walking experience  in Europe and further afield, ( in summer conditions) and also winter walking in either the UK or abroad. Once again being part of a club can help you find someone to go with. If you can add scrambling, rock climbing and overnight stays in mountain huts to your experience, then all the better. Also some experience leading groups is essential either as a volunteer or in your club or even with friends.

To then become an IML you have to go on a series of training and assessment courses (see MLTUK). To start on the first stage of this ladder you need to have gained 20 quality summer walking days abroad and 20 quality winter days which can be in the UK or abroad.

It obviously takes a long time to achieve all this but it is an exciting and adventurous road so don’t be put off, get going!

Further information on the IML qualification.

To be an IML you must have completed the training and assessment for the International Mountain Leader qualification as set down by UIMLA (Union of International Mountain Leader Associations).  This is an international association made up of a number of European countries with non-European nations from around the world starting to show an interest in joining. All countries agree to a common training and assessment platform, therefore ensuring that IML’s from any country all share the same high standard of skills. Each country has their own national association, this is a professional association and IML’s have to be members to be able to work, in Britain this is BAIML

"The IML qualification covers the competence, knowledge, skills and abilities needed for leading groups on any mountaineering activities where the techniques of alpinism are not required."

The aim of the qualification is to provide qualified professionals to lead walking parties on high altitude treks and mountain expeditions. IMLs can lead walking groups anywhere in the world. The qualification is now divided into a summer and winter section. To be able to lead people on snowshoe excursions you need the winter qualification.  IMLs can guide in mountainous areas that are not technically difficult and may only lead excursions on routes where it would not normally be expected to proceed roped together for safety, they  carry a rope for emergency use only. Routes that involve technical equipment such as ice axes and crampons or involve crossing glaciers are the province of the Mountain Guide.

In Britain IML training is carried out and governed by the MLTUK (Mountain Leader Training UK) if you would like further information get directly in touch with them.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


As a snowshoe guide in Morzine and Les Gets I am constantly seeing animal prints of all shapes and sizes criss-crossing the snow.  At times there are so many of them going here and there, around in circles, stopping and going back on themselves that I imagine a scene at night not unlike a market day. Except with animals instead of humans; coming out, having a chat, meeting up with their mates.  Of course the reality is quite different to this with various creatures cautiously going about their business trying not to get noticed by those who are likely to eat them!

In the deep fresh snow you see the prints of deer, chamois, wild boar, fox and hare. The smaller creatures often use the paths made by snowshoers as the snow is compressed and easier for them to walk on. I have seen badger, weasel, pine marten and squirrel prints.  It is rare to actually see these animals but when you do it is such a wonderful sight.  You often think to yourself: “How on earth do they survive the deep snow and freezing temperatures? Where do they live and what do they eat?” But whenever I have seen any animals they seem to be having great fun in the snow; just like us.  Up in the forest near Super Morzine I saw about 8 chamois, they were running and jumping about in gay abandon seemingly immune to the cold. They looked well fed and had thick warm coats to help them survive the extremes of temperature.
Another day I saw a weasel. He was very well camouflaged in his winter coat, all white with a black tip on his tail. Many animals use camouflage as a means of protection from higher predators in the winter.   He was having great fun running about in the snow. When he saw us he ran away at lightning speed and hid under a wood pile. When he felt safe he poked his head out and stared back at us. He lived next to a mountain restaurant so presumably managed to scrounge food from there.
I have never seen the wild boar but there is much evidence of them. Whilst snow shoeing on the slopes above Les Gets I saw a set of very large prints typical of wild boar and as the snow was so deep he or she had bored a furrow through it. They had obviously only recently gone past and I could smell them very faintly.  When the snows clear you can see where they have been churning up the soil in search of roots.
It’s one of the pleasures of snow shoeing: because you move at a slow pace you have time to take in the wonderful winter mountain environment.  You may not see the animals but it’s humbling to remember that this is their environment.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


We are really excited at IndieSnow as the new website is nearly up and will be ready for the new season with information about going for snowshoe walks,  catered snowshoe holidays, helpful advise about snowshoeing, articles and wonderful pictures. Visit the website it will take you to the wintery magical world of snowshoeing

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Lets go Snowshoeing!

Welcome to the Snowshoeing Europe Blog.

We are avid Snowshoers based in Morzine who are interested in sharing snowshoe info and stories as this incredible winter activity is showing no signs of slowing down and we want to be a part of this. Albeit having a long history, the last few years has brought a life to this pastime that has never existed until now, even bringing with it the classification change of Snowshoeing now being considered a serious sport!

We love snowshoeing because it is an activity that everyone can enjoy, from small children on shoulders to our older friends enjoying the later years of life. We are looking to increase our knowledge of fantastic routes and walks so please share any stories you have as we want to shed even more light on the incredible experiences that can be had.

We are also preparing for another exciting winter season that is only a few weeks away so very keen to build up a list of new place to go.

Here are a couple of pictures from last year of some of the beautiful places we went that would just not have been accessible without the awesome snowshoe! For more information regarding any of our adventures please see my website -

Pleney, Morzine

Pleney, Morzine

Freterolles, Vallee de la Manche, Morzine