Southern Nevada Mountains Backcountry Region Including:

Spring Mountains, Mt Charleston, Lee Canyon, Redrocks, Sheep Range

Snowshoeing How To Basics Information

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Safety Tips for Backcountry

Snowshoeing How To Basics

Who can snowshoe?
The good news is that anyone can go snowshoeing. From young kids to senior citizens, we have a shoe for you. Depending on your age and weight range there will be a shoe that will fit your specific needs. Another consideration getting lots of active users is Randonee, Telemark, and Split Snowboarding.

What will you wear while snowshoeing?
The good news is you wonít need to buy a lot of expensive gear. Here is a list of what you could expect to wear on an average outing.

Warm layers-i.e. long underwear with a layer of fleece or wool over it with an outer layer of waterproof or windproof material. You can shed layers as you get warm and put them back on as it gets chilly.

Foot wear-warm socks (wool or polypropylene), waterproof hiking boots or winter boots. Consider buying a pair of gaiters, theyíre great for keeping your ankles dry in deep powder.

Hat and Gloves-both of these items are very important for any winter weather. Remember you lose a considerable amount of heat from your head. If youíre cold- keep your hat on.

Extras-Ski poles, carry hand and foot warmers, a small thermos of hot tea, snacks, a compass and map, first aid kit, headlamp, emergency lightweight bivy bag, sunglasses. These things can be carried in a fanny pack or day pack, or simply stick them in a pocket. Poles are suggested for beginners or when hiking in steep terrain and also probes, shovel, and beacons if in avalance prone region or steep slopes.

Where can I snowshoe?
There are many great places to try out your snowshoes including Mt. Charleston, 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas Nevada. City, State and National parks are a good way to get the hang of it. Once you feel comfortable ,you might want to try your favorite hiking trail or perhaps you might like to try out one of the many areas devoted solely to snowshoeing. These areas are great because the trails are often marked out according to their difficulty. There are also festivals and events at many locations throughout the winter, often times at your local ski area. For more detailed information regarding snowshoe events click on Events and Races.

When can I snowshoe?
Anytime you want! (as long as there is at least 4 inches snow on the ground ). Snowshoeing is a great activity by itself or combined with other outdoor pursuits like winter camping, snowboarding, sledding, or running. There are no more excuses for not getting out and enjoying winter.

Why should I snowshoe?
There are a number of reasons to enjoy the benefits of snowshoeing.

  • A fun and active way to visit the outdoors
  • Inexpensive
  • Simple to learn
  • An entertaining social activity
  • Good for your spirit
  • Another fun winter activity to add to your list
  • Great cardiovascular exercise
  • Everyone is doing it!

    How do I snowshoe?
    Everyone is a little nervous or intimidated when trying a new sport. Snowshoeing however is a sport that you can enjoy your first time out. Before you go on your first trip take a few minutes to become familiar with your snowshoes. We suggest getting acquainted with your new shoes in the warmth of a building and not out in the cold. The most important aspect is to become familiar with the binding attachment.

For most bindings follow these simple steps to make sure you have the proper fit every time.

  • Put the ball of your foot between the hinge rivets, over the hinge. Your toes should be hanging over the front of the foot bed.
  • Tighten the front strap first, followed by the heel strap and finish by tightening the strap over your instep.
  • The straps donít need to be overly tight. Just make sure they are snug. Itís that easy! Now youíre ready for your first adventure.

Whats the technique for snowshoeing?
The most important thing to remember is keep it natural. Donít try to modify your natural gait. There are really only two ways to use snowshoes, walking or running. Most often the terrain will dictate what your stride will be. On open and flat terrain you might want to try jogging. The steeper and deeper the terrain gets, the shorter you stride will become.

The main technique rule to remember when snowshoeing is to always try to avoid hitting your snowshoes against each other as they pass in mid stride and avoid over lapping snowshoes when planted in the snow. This can result in tripping, stumbling and falling. The solution is to simply concentrate on spreading your feet a bit further apart throughout your stride.
The following are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Use a slightly higher knee lift and/or a wider stance
  • Avoid dragging and shuffling your feet to prevent the claws from catching on firm snow.

Uphill/Downhill/Traversing in snowshoes
When engaging steep slopes good technique involves aggressive use of the front traction claws. Spread your feet a bit more and shorten your stride on steep ascents. The fastest way to the top is straight up but a more practical method utilizes a diagonal crossing of the slope.

When traveling downhill avoid leaning back whenever possible. Try to keep your weight forward, be aggressive in engaging the front crampons located under the ball of your foot.

When traversing side hills concentrate on leaning into the hill with each step keeping your weight forward and your crampons directly beneath you. Short even strides will help avoid slipping and ensure safety.

How do I snowshoe in Deep Snow?
Use a higher knee lift and shorten your stride. Total snowshoe floatation is a myth, you will sink based on body weight, snowshoe surface area, and snow conditions. You can sometimes improve floatation in crusty deep snow by stepping softly. When in deep snow it is important to pace yourself.

Intensity of pace.
The intensity level of snowshoeing is infinitely variable. From a slow walk you can increase intensity by going faster, running, using poles, going uphill, and/or by going through deeper and softer snow. The ease with which you can change the intensity level of snowshoeing is one of the keys to its great value in having fun and as a fitness option. At a minimum, snowshoeing will be a bit more intense than walking or running at any given pace or level due to the cold, weight of the snowshoes, resistance of the snow, etc.

Safety Tips

Snowshoeing is an extremely safe sport. It is also one of the only winter-specific sports that does not inherently depend upon sliding or speed. The manageable and maneuverable nature of modern aluminum framed snowshoes, and the soft forgiving nature of snow, combine to make the risk of injury while snowshoeing very low.

The chance of muscle, tendon and joint injuries among snowshoers is also quite low. Snowshoeing involves a natural motion similar to walking, to which the body is accustomed, and is very low impact due to the cushioning of snow.

Any outdoor activity has its dangers and snowshoeing is no exception. Take care to avoid the following hazards:

  • Thin ice-do not walk over frozen water unless you are sure of its safety.
  • Avalanches-familiarize yourself with the terrain and potential dangers before you depart. Click Here for additional AVALANCHE Information and here for DISCOUNT BACKCOUNTRY GEAR from beacons, shovel, probes, GPS, and much more!
  • Frost bite-protect all exposed appendages, especially as the temperature drops or the wind increases and carry disposable hand and foot warmers.
  • Hidden obstacles-beware of barbed wire fences, holes, or uneven terrain under the snow.
  • Hypothermia-know your limits, stay hydrated and carry extra clothing on long outings in isolated areas. A thermos of tea is also awesome.
  • Altitude sickness-higher elevations may have better snow, but bring the risk of altitude sickness. Be aware of the effects of elevation.
  • Getting lost-you can usually follow your tracks out but beware of storms and wind that can cover them up. Always let someone know where you are and when you expect to return. A headlamp may also prove usefull.
  • Wildlife-keep your distance, respect their environment.

Mt. Charleston Snow Storm 2-20-04