I usually hope that I’m wearing skis if I’m in a deep-snow situation, but snowshoes can be helpful as well, especially if the intent isn’t to ski, but to climb or simply hike instead. A few years ago, I shared a snowshoe-required adventure with my sister when we went ice climbing in East Vail. When we started out, the terrain was flat (at right), but it had been snowing steadily for the previous few days. We were able to hike in our mountaineering boots, but as soon as we started to climb upwards, we were post-holing in deep powder.
No worries…thanks to snowshoes. Here’s my sister smiling with her snowshoes on; in this deep section, she’s still staying afloat:
Finally, we were able to see our climbing objective. I’m still knee-deep in this section with my snowshoes on:
We geared up under the cliffs, and then I set off into chest-deep snow to set up a top rope:
I rappelled down, and then the real fun of the day began–with crampons and ice axes instead of snowshoes.
Snowshoes made our approach ascent possible on this day. Skis with skins would have been too heavy and unnecessary since we weren’t planning on skiing down. However, if we had set off with crampons alone, we likely wouldn’t have been able to make it up to the base of the climb so efficiently.
What if you get stuck in deep snow without snowshoes?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills site and learn how to make your own:
“Survival Snowshoes: How to Make Your Own Snowshoes”
Snowshoes are important winter survival tools because they allow your body to float on top of deep snow so that you don’t sink thigh-deep into your surroundings with each step. Snowshoes not only make walking on snow easier, but they also make carrying a backpack or pulling gear behind you on a sled easier as well…click here to continue reading…
Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.