When going up on gently sloping terrain
it is easiest to climb directly up the hill facing forward. As the
slope increases in grade or the soft snow depth increases it will
then become easier to traverse at a 45 degree angle to the slope.
Do short swichbacks
for steep and narrow slopes and longer switchbacks on wider expanses.
Make sure to maintain a steady angle upwards and avoid traversing
straight across the fall line of the slope. Snowshoes do not traverse
well in this manner. On narrow trails sometimes the only option
is to ascend straight up. This requires some practice and technique.
In soft snow pick the toe up and plant it forward evenly while
gradually loading it with your weight.
can be difficult in soft snow. Use care to try and maintain the
track for snowshoers following. Other techniques for climbing
may include sidestepping, kick-stepping side-kicking
and herringbone stepping.
Breaking Trail . . .
When snowshoeing in a group it is most
effective to share trail breaking duties. Use short strides and start
steps with the tail of the shoes to prevent the toe from loading
up with snow. Trade off leading the snowshoe party every few minutes
depending on the depth of soft snow and the grade of the trail. Taking
turns breaking trails allows the entire party to move faster over
Downhill . . .
Going downhill can be the most fun you'll
have all day. Plan your descent based on snow cover, angle of the
slope and the density of the forest around you. You can take longer
strides and almost glissade down a slope with soft snow cover. Be
careful not to lean forward to allow snow to build up on the toe
of the snowshoe or you'll nose-dive! Consider others who may ascend
your trail. Try to avoid damaging the trail platform you have left
and if you can glissade down try to pick a path of fresh snow away
from your ascending trail. Other snowshoe parties will be very grateful.
Ski Poles . . .
Many snowshoers use ski poles for maneuverability
and balance. Besides helping work out the upper body, they help provide
support while stepping up or down. They can be used as a brake while
descending and be used as an aid in getting over obstacles like logs,
fences, stone walls or at stream crossings.
Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe
Foundation PO Box 646 Intervale,
Nonprofit (501 (C)(3) Organization
603-356-9920 (seasonal) E-mail: