Snowshoe Techniques

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,379
    Kevin Hinds, a Snowshoeing Cross-Country Skiing Instructor at L.L. Bean, discusses the technique of snowshoeing.

    Kevin Hinds: I am Kevin Hinds; a Snowshoeing Cross-Country Skiing Instructor here at L.

    L. Bean. First thing we're going to start to do is show you some techniques for snowshoeing. We're going to start with turning. One of the first turns you can make is you can keep the tips apart and the tails of the snowshoe together like this.

    Another way you can turn is you can go ahead and keep the tips together and the tails apart like this. If you're going in one direction, from off in this direction, and want to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction, you can open your poles up, plant them, turn one shoe a 180 degrees and then lift up the second shoe and pull and continue on your way. Then the one last way to turn is you can do little hop turns if you want to.

    So next we're going to talk about walking forward. When you're walking forward on a hard packed surface like we have right here, you just want to make sure to lift your foot up enough, so that your crampon doesn't drag, and when you step, you push down on that crampon. As you push down on that crampon, you'll get better traction and have better footing. As you get off trail, off of a packed snow, more of a powdery snow, you are going to want to lift in these a little bit higher, and you'll also be sinking down into the snow a little bit; maybe 8-10 inches down. But, you're not going to sink maybe to 4 feet of snow down that you have on the ground already.

    Now we're going to learn how to back up. Sometimes when you're snowshoeing you can get into a tight spot and you need to back out of it carefully. You're going to use your poles for balance and rotate the snowshoe to the outside, just the tail of it and take small steps backward with each foot, continue to use those poles to balance. The other technique that you can use down a packed powder condition or a much deeper powdery snow is to use your poles to put light pressure on the tip of the snowshoe thus bringing up the tail of the snowshoe and take small steps backwards.

    Next we're going to talk about falling. You know what, everybody falls. There is only two categories; those that will fall, and those that are falling and we all end up in that second category. So it's no big deal as long as you learn how to get up properly and take care of yourself and as long as you get up one more time, then you fall, have a great time and enjoy it.

    Now that you've fallen, let's talk about getting up. First thing you want to do is take your poles off and put them just to the side. You want to make sure they're out of the way and that we're not going to try to use them at first. Then, what I am going to do is get on to my back, bend my knees in towards my chest, and hold down to the tips of my snowshoes. Once I get those, you're going to go ahead and roll back and forth until you can get enough momentum to roll all the way over onto your knees in your snowshoes.

    So now step forward with one leg and then step up on the other leg, and now you're ready to go. So now we're going to talk about going downhill and uphill. There are a variety of ways to do that, and it all depends on the steepness of the slope. So we're going to show you those three ways.

    It's a real gradual hill, going downhill. I can just walk forward, making sure with each step to really stop down with my crampon to grip the snow and use my poles for balance. It gets a little bit steeper. I can start traversing going back-and-forth to sort of make that less steeper as I go down.

    Then if it gets even steeper, I can also side step down a hill one step at a time, using my poles for balance. If there was a long distance I could also extend the downhill pole and shorten the uphill pole. Now to go up we're going to use the same three methods. Since I am at the steeper part here I'll start with side stepping, then I'll do the traversing, and then I'll go straight back up the hill.