‘Is that the thing where you wear tennis rackets on your feet?’ This is the usual response we get from people when we mention what we do out in the Alps each winter. And the answer? ‘Um… kind of.’ Snowshoeing is basically just going for a walk in the snow with specially designed devices strapped to your feet to spread your weight out and give you more traction on snow and ice, using metal spikes on the bottom. Their resemblance to tennis rackets has pretty much disappeared as the modern generation of snowshoes has been developed.
The reality of snowshoeing is that it is one of the most wonderful and enjoyable ways to spend time in the snow. It’s easy to learn, doesn’t require a high level of fitness, it's cheap and accessible to all and allows anyone to access the snowy wonderland of the mountains in winter.
So why should I go snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is growing in popularity and becoming interesting to people of all ages and fitness levels, not just as a backup for those who don’t want to ski or can’t ski anymore. Essentially, snowshoes allow you to go for a stroll down a snowy path, trek across vast snowfields to reach a wintry summit, access the best off-piste runs with your skis strapped to your back or explore the forests, ridges and valleys looking for the perfect view or a rare wildlife sighting. Snowshoeing is silent, majestic and breathtaking.
Who goes snowshoeing?
Our clients have ranged from 70 year old ex-skiers who no longer trust their knees, expectant mothers not willing to risk skiing and parents with children as young as 3, to 20-somethings looking to improve their fitness whilst having a great day out. Snowshoeing can be relaxed, exciting or a real workout, depending on what you want to get out of it.
Why hire a guide?
Snowshoeing is not difficult, and you can hire snowshoes from a local ski hire shop for around 15 euros per day. Getting used to having big bits of plastic strapped to your feet takes only about half an hour or so of trying them out, so you might think 'Why can’t I just give it a go?' You certainly can, and if you live in a snowy environment I’d really recommend it. But if you are on holiday in a snowy area and want to get the best out of your day, it really does pay to hire someone to take you out for a half day or day. An experienced snowshoeing guide will know all the best routes, won’t get you lost, can take you to much more remote and exciting areas without risk, will understand and know how to avoid avalanches and can predict and avoid rapid and potentially dangerous changes in weather. We’ve spoken to people who hired snowshoes but no guide. They found they didn’t really know where to go, so just wandered around on well-marked trails which didn’t offer them the views and excitement of the real thing. For the full snowshoeing experience, we'd always recommend hiring a guide.
In conclusion, snowshoeing is an exciting, up and coming winter sport which is fun and accessible to all, so why not give it a go this winter?
For more information on Snowshoeing holidays, great places to go and hiring an experienced guide, check out the Snowshoeing Holidays website.