3 good reasons why you should try snowshoeing in the Alps

Snowshoeing is the ultimate in winter walking, giving access to the most privileged of experiences off the beaten track. Snowshoes distribute your weight evenly over a greater surface area so you don’t sink in (as much!!). This simple application of science makes the snowy wildernesses of the Alps accessible to walkers and the technique is easy to master. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! It is one of the fastest growing winter sports in the Alps and it’s easy to understand why!

Snowshoeing

Discover a winter wonderland that you never knew existed

For many of us our knowledge of the Alps is limited to ski resorts with bustling bars, clubs and restaurants and groomed and managed ski pistes. Venture away from these hubs of activity, and a whole new world opens up to you.

The Alps has a strong agricultural and cultural history stretching back way before the first ski lift was invented and it is still very much in evidence. Tiny alpine hamlets, sometimes cut off by avalanches, with their snow-laden rooftops, pointy church spires and traditional alpine architecture mark the gateway to a rustic mountain wilderness, only accessible by foot.

As you snowshoe along the valley, scan the cliffs towering above you and if you have an eye for wildlife, you’ll spot the chamois and the ibex watching you.

Wildlife

You will notice the red berries of the rosehip bush stand out against the pure white backdrop and remark that the lower branches have been nibbled.  Its for you to guess by which animal! Top tip –  the clues are in the tracks around the bush! Decipher the tracks further and discover the stories behind the animals that live here in these wild, remote mountains.  A fox and a hare – which one went first? Was the fox chasing the hare or is it coincidence that their paths have crossed?

You’ll get fit without even realising it

It is well known that walking is good for you. Add in the clean fresh alpine air and the slight increase in altitude and snowshoeing climbs an extra notch up on the good for you scale. The altitudes you would reach on an average snowshoeing trip in the Alps would generally be between 1000m and 3000m. Nothing that will require oxygen but maybe enough to generate a few extra red blood cells to take back home with you.

Snowshoeing

There is technique involved with different snow conditions that will work muscles you didn’t know existed and keep the brain cells ticking: the flat footed walking on eggshells walk when you are trying not to break the snow crust, the knee up chicken walk when ploughing through deep powder and the sideways skidding for maximum propulsion downhill.

Walking with snowshoes is fun so it is easy to forget how long you have been snowshoeing and clock in extra miles.

Snowshoeing is good for the soul

We all need a break from our hectic lives to take a step back and forget all our worries. Wandering off the beaten track in a quiet, snowy wilderness far away from people and traffic, with the rhythmic and methodical sound of your snowshoes traipsing through the snow is almost meditative! It is a perfect environment to empty your head.

Add to this the humbling experience of being slightly out of your comfort zone in wild and unfamiliar territory and open the door to those pertinent soul searching questions you never have time to think about! Pure tonic for the soul!

You’ll come back from snowshoeing with new vision and inspiration to take on the world!

Sally Guillaume is Director at Undiscovered Alps.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Penny Walker says:

    This is a great summary of my own experience showshoeing. It has to be my favourite winter activity for all the reasons that Sally describes. You can keep your skiing!

  2. Thanks Penny – though I quite like skiing too!! In fact I like anything that is outdoors – am easy to please! But yes snowshoeing is quite special!

  3. Rae Morgan says:

    When I clicked on it, I didn’t think you would convince me, but then you started talking about getting away from everything and man… You got me. You got me.

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