Rules to play Snow Shoeing
A snowshoe is footwear for walking over the snow.
1. Getting started
Walking on flat or rolling ground is fairly intuitive when you first start out. Most snowshoes have simple strap and go bindings that fit a wide range of boot styles and sizes. Your stance should be wider than normal when youre on snowshoes in order to keep from stepping on the insides of the frames, so you may feel your hips and groin muscles ache after the first few times out.
2. Trail etiquette
Backcountry snowshoers will often be sharing the trail with cross country skiers. Try to make your own trail whenever possible, staying out of the tracks skiers have worked so hard to set. Skiers have the right of way on trail systems, since its easier for a snowshoer to step off the trail safely than it is for a skier to stop or go around. Always be polite to the folks you meet along the trail.
3. Going uphill
As you ascend hills, you use your toe or instep crampons for traction. Always place your feet firmly on snow, poles in front of you. Several techniques can come into play, depending on the conditions.In powdery snow, use the kick step technique. Pick up your foot and literally kick into the snow with the toe of your boot to create a step. Your snowshoes will be on the angle of the slope, with the tails hanging downhill behind you and the toes above your boots. This plants the crampons or cleats into the snow, directly under the balls of your feet. If conditions are such that a kick step ends up just creating a deep hole in the snow, then look for a different route.
On crusty, hardpack snow, you probably wont be able to kick step. Instead, youll be relying on your traction devices claws and poles. Walk up the slope, but if its too steep try to find an easier traversing route.
On moderate to steep slopes, flip up the heel lift feature also known as a climbing bar or Televator found under the heel on many snowshoes. This puts your leg in a more comfortable position for long ascents.
4. Going downhill
On descents, keep your poles planted in front of you, knees bent and relaxed, and your body weight slightly back. Walk smoothly and plant heel first, then toe. A few considerations:
Your instinct will be to lean back on the snowshoe tails. This reaction works well on models with angled crampons built into the heel, which are designed to dig in as you descend.
When wearing snowshoes without heel crampons, youll need to keep your weight over your feet, so your toe crampons will be planted firmly. Poles can provide a great deal more balance and control as you descend.
Avoid overswinging your leg as this can cause your tails to flip out in front of you. If the slope steepens, be sure to keep your weight back. If you slip, just sit down.
Traversing or side hilling is a common method of travel and can be used to avoid overly steep or difficult terrain. Keeping your balance is key.
Push the uphill side of each snowshoe into the slope to create a shelf as you move along. Keep your weight on the uphill snowshoe.
If possible, walk in the steps made by the person in front of you.
Use your poles. Extend the downhill pole and shorten the uphill pole until theyre even.
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