Snowshoeing is simply walking / trekking in the snow. The people of snowy countries the world over have been using snowshoes for centuries to ease their progress on foot. So the ones we use are modern descendents of those original pieces of equipment. Wearing snowshoes makes the walking easier by stopping us sinking in soft snow, and providing grip if the snow is hard or icy. The snowshoes adjust to almost any boot size, and are very easy to walk in. Consequently, after a quick fitting, most people are comfortable on their snowshoes and ready to go in around 10 minutes.
Like summer hiking, we can make things as easy or challenging as you wish. Small group sizes and a flexible approach ensure we accommodate everyone’s needs and abilities. I like to talk about these when you make contact. Along with consideration of weather and snow conditions, I can then plan the perfect itinerary for you. One of the beauties of snowshoeing is that it is non-technical. That is to say that unlike skiing for example, almost anyone can do it. In other words, you don’t need technical instruction, natural aptitude or time spent practising. However, snowshoeing gives us access to remote landscapes that go way beyond the limits of most skiers.
People of all ages and abilities enjoy snowshoeing. With our small groups we can adjust distance, pace and terrain according to your interests and aspirations. Wandering the spectacular mountain environment surrounding us, usually well away from the bustle of the main ski areas, enthralls those with a love of open spaces, fresh air and the natural world. Snowshoeing is ideal for summer hill-walkers, non-skiers, or those seeking variety, adventure, or peace and tranquility during their ski holiday. The Chamonix Valley is a great snowshoeing venue. That’s because it offers everything from mellow forest trails between picture postcard villages to awesome high mountain wilderness. Firstly I like to understand your experience level, interests and aspirations. Then I use my knowledge of areas, weather and snow conditions to tailor the right itinerary for you.
The season for snowshoeing roughly mirrors the skiing season. Generally we expect good conditions from start December to end April. Mid-winter normally has the most reliable snow conditions, but of course is cold.
It is possible for a beginner to snowshoe independently in the Chamonix Valley. There are some pisted, waymarked trails which can be followed, and equipment can be hired at local sports shops. However, there are some other considerations when snowshoeing in the Alps in winter which most visitors will be unaware of. The most serious of these is avalanche risk. Tens of people die in avalanches in the Alps every winter. That’s why it is a vital part of a leader’s job to assess the risk before and during the walk, in order to make good decisions that ensure the group’s safety. I am a fully qualified International Mountain Leader. IMLs have been trained and assessed in this skill. Weather and terrain in the Alps in winter are also unfamiliar to most visitors, and can pose problems of route-planning and navigation to the unwary. Consequently this can lead to difficulties.
In addition, as an experienced mountain enthusiast with a wealth of local knowledge, I aim to enhance the snowshoeing experience with knowledge about the local environment, history and culture.
Last but not least are the practicalities of sorting everything out. On all my snowshoeing tours I organise and provide just about everything you need. So you don’t need to worry about equipment hire, route choices and navigation, and getting to and from the walks. Therefore you can make the most of your time, and are free to enjoy the snowshoeing and surroundings. In contrast, independent snowshoers are likely to find themselves spending considerable time and effort figuring out logistics, not always with great results.