The thrill of an unexpected frost and the serene beauty of a winter wonderland lure many people to snowy hikes.
But walking through the snow requires a lot more than a good pair of boots and gloves.
Snow hikes can be great fun, but require more technique and caution than regular hikes.
And in today’s article, I’ll show you how to progress safely and quickly.
Hiking in the snow is exhausting but fulfilling
The onset of winter doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your outdoor adventures – even if you’re not a skier.
Comfortable walking on snow is a new way of hiking, from winter forest walks to mountaineering destinations to crossing spring and snow fields on high peaks.
Successful snow hikes depend on the ability to understand the terrain and move efficiently within it.
These strategies will teach you how to move safely through the snow.
Before you climb a snowy slope, you should assess the risk factors.
Is an avalanche possible? Has the sun turned the snow into slush, or is it frozen solid with an icy crust?
Moving around is easiest on firm but not rock-hard snow.
In winter you should wait until the sun softens icy patches. In spring you should leave early before the slopes turn to slush.
“Nothing is as efficient as soft, crisp snow”.
Once you are certain it is safe to continue climbing, choose one of the following techniques depending on the slope and snow quality.
The Duck Walk
On easy to moderate slopes that feel slippery with regular walking, spread your feet outward so your heels are closer together than your toes.
This maximizes the surface contact between your shoe soles and the snow. Take long strides and step into the slope with the inside of your foot for better grip.
The American step
When the slope gets too steep for you to feel safe with flat feet, use this technique to keep going straight: rotate uphill, spread one foot out (like duck walking), and push the toe of the other toe. Switch sides if one leg gets tired.
The French technique
On a steep slope with hard snow, if you’re wearing crampons (see below), French stepping can save energy (and relieve your calf muscles).
Take long, curving strides and use a cross stride to avoid overloading your uphill leg. Point both feet slightly downward to ensure maximum surface contact between the crampon points and the snow.
Place the back foot uphill and in front of the front foot. Use an ice pick for balance.
The downward swing can make falls more dangerous, so it’s important to watch your steps when descending.
Before descending, watch out for loose straps, clothing, and shoelaces that you could trip over.
Before you set off, it’s a good idea to brush up on self-belay techniques so you can catch yourself in the event of a fall.
When going straight down in soft snow, face away from the slope. Drive your heel into the snow and point your toes skyward to avoid slipping.
On hard snow, spread your feet like you’re a duck walking and stomp. On steep slopes, change direction and face the slope if you feel unsafe.
stay in touch
The right equipment is important, especially in winter. Your normal hiking shoes are sufficient for crossing snow fields or moderate climbs. However, on very steep slopes you may need extra traction to avoid slipping on icy surfaces.
There are many opportunities; Here’s how to choose the best one for you.
Ice studs or overlays like Yaktrax are best for snowy trails or flat trails, especially if you’re running fast.
Chains generally don’t have the traction needed for icy hills, so for serious alpine use you should buy something sturdier.
For winter hikers, microspikes are good for terrain with lots of gentle slopes and safe drops.
However, micro spikes can give you a false sense of security and are not intended for steep, solid terrain. So be extra careful when wearing them.
Wear crampons with mountain boots and use an ice axe for extra protection and balance.
Learn basic mountaineering safety precautions and never walk too fast or too far away from others. If you feel exhausted or slip back, take a break and look for an easier route.
Take your time for the descent!
Questions and answers about hiking in winter
What safety precautions should you take when hiking in the snow?
When hiking in the snow, it’s important to be prepared for the cold and to stay safe. Make sure you have the right equipment, such as B. a hat, gloves and a jacket.
If you’re going to be out for a few hours or more, take food and water with you. You should also make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.
What safety precautions should you take when hiking with children?
Hiking with children can be a great experience for families. It is important to take safety precautions.
First, make sure the trail you hike is suitable for your children’s ages and physical abilities.
Second, make sure the weather forecast is good and it won’t rain or snow during your trek.
Third, make sure you pack enough food and water for everyone in your group.
Fourth, take a first aid kit with you in case of an emergency.
Fifth, bring a map of the path you will be walking. This will help you know how to find help quickly if something happens.
How much equipment should you take with you when hiking?
The amount of gear you take on a hike depends on the type of hike and the length of the hike.
If you’re going on a day hike, all you need is some water and some snacks. If you’re going on a multi-day hike, you’ll need more food and water. You should also bring a map or GPS device with your phone in case something happens.
Are there any special features of winter hiking?
Winter hikes are often not done, but can be just as rewarding as summer hikes. One of the main differences is that winter hiking requires more preparation and equipment than summer hiking.
Winter hikers should always dress in layers, for example with the right sportswear to regulate body temperature.
You should also take extra food and water with you on longer tours as it may take longer to find accommodation.