Snowshoes in some form or another have been in use since time immemorial. Nowadays in the Pyrenees we use snowshoes made out of ABS plastic which are light and very strong. They are not very big and beginners get used to using them very quickly. They are fastened to ordinary walking boots using simple straps or bindings the same as snowboard bindings, which are quick to get on and off and easy to adjust. Most people are reasonably confident within an hour of starting to use snowshoes - it is not in the least like skiing!!!
Wearing snowshoes allows us to walk over snow-covered terrain without sinking in. The effort required is about the same as walking in summer over the same terrain, but we see the mountains in all their winter splendour. We can do walks of roughly the same length as in summer, to the same altitudes. However I normally select walks which gradually increase in their physical challenge whilst taking into account the shorter winter days, and above all, careful route selection to avoid the danger of avalanches.
You need to come equipped as if you were going winter hillwalking in, for example, Scotland.
- thermal underwear
- a couple of thin fleeces
- wind and waterproof jacket, preferably Goretex
- wind and waterproof overtrousers
- warm windproof walking trousers
- plenty of warm thick socks, at least calf length
- proper warm walking boots with a good tread and good ankle support
- a pair of walking poles
- ski gloves or similar and spares
- warm hat that covers your ears
- thermos flask
- plastic box for lunch
- a rucksack minimum 30 litres
- lip salve
- sunglasses, preferably type 5 CE marked (should have a warning on them about not using them while driving (because they are so dark))
- water bottle or camelback
- Your own snowshoes, but they must be of good quality and I suggest strongly that you test them thoroughly before coming.
- ski goggles can be useful in poor weather
- a scarf or
- binoculars to watch the vultures circling overhead
Needless to say you will not be wearing all those clothes all the time, and going uphill in the sunshine on a windless day most of them will be in your rucksack!
You do not need any prior snowshoeing experience. Part of the first day will be an introductory session. You should have done some hillwalking in the winter, preferably with snow on the ground. However if you are a fit summer hillwalker with warm gear and the right attitude that will be fine. It is good to be used to walking with walking poles as we will be using them all the time with the snowshoes.
To book a place on a trek please go to the booking page