Winter Can Be Unforgiving. So Be Safe.
Snowshoeing is an extremely safe sport. It is also one of the only winter-specific sports that do not depend upon sliding or speed. The manageable and maneuverable nature of modern aluminum-framed snowshoes and the soft forgiving nature of snow combine to make the risk of injury while snowshoeing very low. Snowshoeing involves a natural motion similar to walking, to which the body is accustomed, and is very low impact due to the cushioning of snow.
However, any wintertime outdoor activity has its risks and snowshoeing is no exception. Take care to avoid the following hazards:
- Go With A Friend: The “buddy system” works, especially if one of you gets in trouble. And nature was meant to be shared.
- Thin ice: Do not walk over frozen water unless you are sure of its safety. Even after a long freeze, a body of water may have thin spots. Be careful!
- Hidden obstacles: Beware of barbed wire fences, holes, or uneven terrain under the snow. Tread lightly!
- Getting lost: You can usually follow your tracks out but beware of storms and wind that can cover them up. Always let someone know where you are and when you expect to return.
- Wildlife: Please keep your distance and respect their environment. The critters out there in winter have a rough enough time as it is!
- Frost bite: Protect all exposed appendages, especially as the temperature drops or the wind increases. Insulated gloves or mittens and thick hiking socks will keep those digits toasty, and a mask or balaclava can keep your nose from growing icicles.
- Hypothermia: Staying warm means keeping your body dry inside of your clothes and out. Dress properly for your time outside. Wearing a damp, sweaty, cotton t-shirt outside in the winter time can be just as chilly as falling in open water. Know your limits, stay hydrated, and bring extra layers on long outings in isolated areas.
- Altitude sickness: Higher elevations may have better snow, but bring the risk of altitude sickness. Stay within your limits, keep well hydrated, and ascend gradually.
- Avalanches: Familiarize yourself with the terrain and potential dangers before you depart. If you travel in areas where avalanches are a possibility, it is strongly recommended that you seek proper safety and rescue instruction and carry the appropriate equipment.