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Snowshoeing in the snowy mountains

everything you need to know!

Snowshoeing is an accessible way to enjoy the incredible beauty of the mountains in Winter without skis or a snowboard. It’s easy to pick up and enjoy for a day or two on groomed areas, but for the more experienced, there are hundreds of miles to explore off the beaten track too. If you don’t fancy skiing or snowboarding, or the conditions won’t allow it, this might be your chance to give snowshoeing a go.

What is a snowshoe?

A snowshoe is made up of a deck - a sort of “platform” that you attach to the bottom of your boot - with a crampon of grippy teeth underneath. It works by spreading your weight over a wider area to prevent you from sinking too deep, with the metal teeth biting into the snow and ice to give you traction.

Snowshoes usually also have heel risers to help you when going uphill.

With a snowshoe, you will wear an insulated, waterproof hiking boot that is attached to the snowshoe by a harness. The types of harness and materials used vary by brand and type but there are lots of different options to suit different levels, feet sizes and preferences.

Your burning questions on everything snowshoeing
Where, how & what to do

What’s the difference between crampons and snowshoes?

Crampons are useful for traction but don’t provide the wide base/ deck that snowshoes do, and therefore won’t prevent you from sinking into the show. If you’re looking to hike in the snow, snowshoes are a better choice, providing grip and enabling you to “float” rather than sink.

Who can snowshoe?

The beauty of snowshoeing is that anyone can do it. From children to grandparents, it’s a great way to see the mountains (and get a workout in too!).

For newer snowshoers, we recommend sticking to trails and groomed areas however as you become more experienced you can venture off piste. The more experienced snowshoers will often head deep into the backcountry, enjoying the peace and tranquillity, as well as stunning views. Snowboarders who want to head into the backcountry but don’t have a splitboard will often take snowshoes too.

Where can I snowshoe?

Snowshoeing has seen an increase in popularity in Australia over the past few years. There are designated snowshoe trails at resorts like Perisher, but most skis resorts will also allow snowshoeing (as long as you stick to the rules, and stay on the edge of the piste).

More experienced snowshoes can head almost anywhere where there is snow.

You’ll find that many ski lodges or chalets have snowshoes on hand so you can head straight out of the door and enjoy the snow even when the conditions aren’t great.

Is snowshoeing hard?
You’ll work up a sweat while snowshoeing but the basics aren’t difficult to grasp, and you’ll pick it up quickly. It’s basically walking with two key differences:

  1) You’ll need to walk with your legs slightly further apart. Nothing too wild, just a little wider than normal so you don’t trip over the inside of your shoes
  2) You can’t reverse. Believe us, we’ve been there! If you need to go back the way you came, you’ll need to turn around otherwise, you’ll be on your back making snow angels. This is because of the way the snowshoes attach and move as you walk.

The other common mistake people make when they first start is walking on their tip toes, which means that you aren’t making use of the grippy crampon in the middle of your shoe. Just walk normally and make sure to place the middle of your foot firm and flat when ascending and descending.

That’s all there is to it, really!

How deep will I sink?

Your snowshoes will stop you from sinking too deep, but you will still sink in a bit on softer snow.

Trails tend to be well stomped down, so you will stay on top but on the edges you may occasionally sink in a bit.

If you’re in the backcountry, you will be on softer snow and sink deeper. It’s critical that you understand the topography before going off a trail. You can also use your pole to check if you’re unsure how well-packed/ deep some snow ahead is.

Can I go up ski lifts with snowshoes?

As with hikers or anyone without skis, you can take a ski lift while snowshoeing, but you need to remove your snowshoes before trying to get on.

What should I wear while snowshoeing?

You will get warm while snowshoeing but it’s important that you have plenty of layers and a waterproof coat and pants. We generally recommend a good pair of thermal bottoms and thin waterproof trousers for the bottom. On top you’ll want a baselayer, a midlayer and a warm, waterproof coat. We’d recommend packing an extra fleece too just in case. Layers are your friend while snowshoeing and it’s always better to have too many than too few.

Carrying a backpack while snowshoeing is a good option for your extra layers, food and water. If you’re heading out into the backcountry, you should take a personal locator beacon and safety equipment too.

You’ll also want a hat and (waterproof) gloves, and some sunnies. It’s always colder up the hill but the UV is higher, so remember some sunscreen too.

What are the best snowshoe brands?

While there are lots of different brands, we stock Tubbs, Atlas and MSR, with Tubbs & Atlas also in our rental snowshoes.

Should I rent or buy snowshoes?

We recommend renting if you’ve not tried snowshoes before. There are lots of places that do rentals and it’s pretty inexpensive overall. Snowshoes can be expensive to buy so it’s best to know if you like it before investing.

Ready to give it a go?

Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the snow. If you're looking to go snowshoeing in Kosckiuszko National Park, you can rent or buy snowshoes from us at Rhythm Snowsports. heaps of knowledge and experience snowshoeing, and will be able to tell  the best places to go. If you have any questions or aren't sure if snowshoeing is for you, feel free to get in touch to find out more. We're happy to help! 

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