Snowshoeing using the latest lightweight equipment has opened up a whole new world to those who previously thought mountain walking was only a summer activity. Snowshoeing is neither technical or complicated and allows access to a wonderful snow covered playground. You don't need any prior experience to snowshoe in the Alps, just some warm clothes and a sense of adventure! With a little guidance you can soon pick up the skills: we regularly see whole families wandering through magical snow covered forests or across high meadows enjoying the views normally only afforded to mountaineers or skiers. There is also the myth that it's all hard work. Indeed, if you happen to have to break the trail it’s a bit of a workout, but if there is a trail already there, and there often is, then it's really no harder than normal hill walking.
It’s often overlooked that we have been snowshoeing far longer than we have been skiing - historians generally believe that snowshoes were invented around 6,000 years ago in Central Asia. A little closer to home, inhabitants of the Caucasus used to attach flat leather under their feet and the Armenians used round wooden surfaces. The aim of course was to travel on the surface of the snow pack rather than sinking knee or thigh deep.
A century ago snowshoes looked a little like something you might use for an early game at Wimbledon, and I do have friends who constantly tease when I suggest I am off for a spot of snowshoeing. 'Oh, getting the tennis racquets out then?' But snowshoes have come a long way since the French first referred to them as raquettes. Today's snowshoes are made of modern lightweight materials and come in many shapes, sizes, and colours. They are a pleasure to wear and without doubt a fantastic way to move around a snow covered landscape. For the fashion conscious you can easily tailor your snowshoe collection (let's face it, one pair’s never enough!) to match your winter wardrobe.
In the Alps snowshoeing has been credited with being the fastest growing winter activity. In France alone the latest figures show two million people snowshoeing on a regular basis. More people in the Alps have taken up snowshoeing than any other winter sport, with annual sales now at 140,000 snowshoes each year. Snowshoeing with Tracks and Trails is the perfect way to explore the mountains and valleys of the Alps - a magical experience of silent forests, beautiful mountains and stunning view. Join us this winter and enjoy fabulous snowshoeing in Chamonix or try one of our explorer trips to Italy or Switzerland.
Find out more about our snowshoe trips this winter here.