“When life gives you snow, go snowshoeing.”
Hello and Happy New Year to you!
Last blog was all about hiding your Xmas extras, but that is of course a temporary solution. (Re)starting a healthy diet and exercising are ways to ensure lasting results. That’s why this week I’d like to promote a healthy activity that will bring you much while not costing you or the environment a lot: Snowshoeing!
In case you are a fan of winter wonderland, when you like relaxing your brain while exercising, when you love enjoying nature and respecting it at the same time plus when you are looking for having the time of your live for just a tiny bit of money, you should definitely go snowshoeing.
Read on to find out the many more advantages snowshoeing offers.
Having lived in Switzerland for quite some years now I have had my fair share of skiing, hitting the slopes each winter weekend, over Xmas and in my winter sports holidays (what’s in a name, right?). In the course of the years the following three things have slowly made me get more critical about skiing as my winter sports:
- It’s bad for the environment🙁
- There are more people on the slopes each year, so it gets really crowded and the queuing for the lifts is taking longer and longer😴
- I get older and though I am a good skier, not everyone is and with crowded slopes, accidents lie around the corner and recovery, you can image or may have experienced yourself, simply takes longer when you get older🤔
While these thoughts were circulating in my mind, a friend of ours invited us for an evening snow shoe walk, followed by a traditional Swiss cheese fondue in a remote mountain cabin. We did not know what to expect, but were ready to give it go. It was fabulous!
Slowly but steadily we were walking through still forests, the only sound the crispy snow under our feet. The trees around us were romantically lit by moonlight, the snow sparkling softly. It was like a fairy tale and I was sold, 100% sold.
The day after we bought snow shoes and slowly but steadily snowshoeing has taken over skiing completely. Why? Well, for a number of reasons:
1. Snowshoeing means walking amidst nature
To facilitate skiing big parts of mountain areas have to be “adapted” to prepare perfect slopes and huger and huger lifts are built to allow more and more skiers on these slopes. A beehive is quiet compared to some skiing areas!
To facilitate snowshoeing you only need a single snow shoe trail and a few signposts and soon you find yourself walking amidst nature, far away from busy slopes and noisy lifts.
Following the trail, you realise that you are a guest in the area and that the mountains, forests and animals kindly welcome you, but also ask you to respect their natural habitat. And you automatically do. Finding yourself in the middle of nature makes you lower the volume of your voices spontaneously and makes you voluntarily stay on the trail because you know your hosts need their winter sleep.
2. Snowshoeing can be done in any weather
I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of cloudy, snowy or foggy weather when skiing. Even clouds make the experience less fun, since it’s so much harder to judge the ups and downs of the slopes.
To be honest, snowshoeing on a sunny day is my favourite type of snow shoe walking too, but cloudy, foggy or snowy days have their own charm. They turn nature into a mysterious fairy tale landscape and make you feel like a daring explorer.
3. Snowshoeing means being away from the crowd
Due to the many and larger ski lifts that get built everywhere, slopes tend to become busier by the year (not to mention the queuing for the lifts). This development is one of the reasons we have been looking for other ways of enjoying winter sports. It is supposed to be a relaxing outdoor activity. Somehow these huge crowds take away the relaxing element of winter sport rather fast.
Snowshoeing is still a quiet affair, since less people do it. Remember that you are off piste and thus further away from restaurants and the like, so you will automatically leave many people behind⛄️
Being aways form restaurants has got its own charm. We always take a picnic blanket with us (one with plastic on one side, so we stay warm and dry), hot herbal tea and fresh bread from the bakery and enjoy our lunch on a sunny & scenic spot somewhere on our way.
4. Snowshoeing is good value for money
Skiing is an expensive sport: the material you need is costly and you have to pay a lot for the lifts.
Snowshoeing is so much cheaper. Your material is far less costly and you need no lifts at all. Your legs really do all the work!
In contrast to skis, that need their ski binding adapted for each individual, snow shoes can be shared easily. Every walker just places his or her mountain boots or snow boots on the snow shoe, adjusts the straps and is ready to go. This means you can invest in a pair of snow shoes and use them yourself as well as offering them to others to enjoy a winter walk. We have bought some extra shoes, so we can easily take our Dutch family and friends snowshoeing. They all love it!
5. Snowshoeing is safe
The busier ski slopes make accidents happen easier and faster than ever. With snowshoeing on the contrary, you really have to do your best to get any type of accident at all, since your speed is slow and your shoes have crampon cleats.
That said, you have to consider your capabilities and knowledge when you go snowshoeing. When you are unfamiliar with avalanche dangers or not confident walking on steep slopes, you should stick to the easier and saver trails. Show Shoe Trails are marked blue, red and black (like the ski slopes) to indicate the physical condition, technique and mountain knowledge needed for the trail. This is something you should take seriously and when doing so, you will enjoy a very safe winter sport.
6. Snowshoeing is easy to learn
Snowshoeing is not only safe, it is also super easy to learn. When you can walk, you can snowshoe too. Strap on your snow shoes, take your poles in your hands, walk with your legs slightly apart and you are ready to go!
7. Snowshoeing is a great cardio
Being amidst nature means that you will have no lift taking you to the top: you will have to do all the work yourself. You can choose the pace, sure, but up you go and that means that snowshoeing is a great cardio!
It’s also lots of fun when you go running instead of walking (see the photo under number 4) and trust me when I tell you that having that kind of fun is the best interval training ever!
I love snowshoeing and I am positive I have convinced you of its many advantages too, so you probably can’t wait to go snowshoeing yourself. That’s why I have collected some useful links for you, which you can find at the end of this blog post.
Thank you so much for reading and wishing you a fabulous week with hopefully some great (snow shoe) walks!
Useful Links for Snow Shoe Walks in Europe:
- Many snow shoe trails and winter walks (for which you do not need snow shoes) in Switzerland: click here.
- In the Black Forest (Germany) there are over 100 snow shoe trails. A selection can be found here.
- For snowshoeing in Tirol (Austria) you can click here.
- When you want to know which other areas in Austria are great for snowshoeing, you might want to browse through this website. It also offers practical information about snowshoeing.
- In case you want to try out snowshoeing with a guide, Chamonix (France) is a perfect place to start. For inspiration what kind of guided tours you can choose from, you can click here.