/ Are Snowshoes any use ?

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SethChili - on 02 Dec 2012
I tend to do a lot of long distance day walking over mainly non technical ground in the winter with the intention of covering lots of ground rather than climbing gullies or ridges . I have an ice axe and know how to use it and have walked a lot in the winter in scotland the lakes and the peak district - I am fairly confidant on my feet . This winter I was thinking about getting some 4 season boots and crampons but this will set me back a heck of a lot for something I have always managed without .
Are the more technical snowshoes any use in the uk ? They usually seem to have a the equivilent of the front points of a crampon built into them but the main advantage for me would be not sinking into the snow .
I know that snowshoes are used a lot on the continent and in the US but are they of pratical value here .
Cheers as I dont really know what I am talking about when it comes to winter kit .
Ron Walker - on 02 Dec 2012
In reply to SethChili:
If you are sinking into snow you won't need crampons but if it is hard and icy then crampons will be essential. The crampons on snowshoes are not suitable for really hard icy snow.
I live in the Cairngorms and have snow shoes though rarely use them compared to my crampons and an ice axe.
They can be useful on the rare occasion but 4 season boots and crampons are pretty well essential if you are into regular winter hillwalking on the higher Scottish hills.
Tim Chappell - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to SethChili:

Skis are much better.
Ron Walker - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to SethChili)
>
> Skis are much better.

...and much more fun!
Carolyn - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to SethChili:

Agreed - I used them for a while, until I could ski just well enough not to be in danger of killing myself....

They do stop a lot of wallowing in knee deep soft snow, but you'll still need to carry seperate crampons to deal effectively with some icy bits.
WrekinMC - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to SethChili:
I have a pair of MSR Lightning Ascents. For romping over the Cairngorms I think they save me 10mins in the hour compared to walking in in just boots. I could overtake most people walking into Coire an t-Sneachda without much problem and it made the walk to Ben Macdui a lot faster.

The Ascents have a good heel lift for making steeper ascents easier and they have sharper edges than some snowshoes so traversing a slope is OK as well. The crampon front points help on steeper ground and dig in quite well.

I still carry crampons on some walks in case there are tricky bits but that depends on your route choice. For walking in soft or deep snow snowshoes are great fun.

Ski's are much faster.




davidbeynon - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to WrekinMC:

I have a pair of TSL 325s that were pretty useful in deep snow last year.

Agreed that skis are quicker, but snowshoes have the advantage that anyone can just stick a pair on and use them reasonably well with no practice and there is no special difficulty in using them roped together.

Reasonable compromise option IMHO.
Tim Chappell - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to WrekinMC:


I got a pair of snowshoes in Canada in 2003, and tried using them the next time I walked in to Sneachda. After ten minutes of floundering ridicule, I abandoned them and just walked in like everybody else. Fortunately they only cost C$15.

There may be a specialised technique to walking in snowshoes. I don't know, and I'm never going to find out. What's certain is that, for my part, I don't find skis any harder to use: the contrary, in fact.

And what happens if you're in snowshoes and it gets really icy? Of course if you were on skis, if it was bad enough, you'd still have to switch to crampons and axe, even in descent. But I reckon you can ski things that are a lot icier and steeper than you can snowshoe.
davidbeynon - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Maybe it's down to using $15 snowshoes.
George Ormerod - on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to WrekinMC)
> And what happens if you're in snowshoes and it gets really icy? Of course if you were on skis, if it was bad enough, you'd still have to switch to crampons and axe, even in descent. But I reckon you can ski things that are a lot icier and steeper than you can snowshoe.

You'd have to be a pretty good skier to ski the icy slopes you can easily stroll down in snowshoes. All proper snowshoes have a metal crampon type arrangement on the bottom and are good on surprisingly steep slopes.

Having said that, I would't bother in the UK. There's seldom enough snow.

In reply to Tim Chappell:

> There may be a specialised technique to walking in snowshoes.

Not really, they just work much better in some conditions than others. http://www.vimeo.com/37548869 I wouldn't have thought in Scotland that there is so much flat, thick snow areas where they pay off. In thick brush forest they can be a total 'mare for example even when there is lots of snow. Rocky terrain like the walk into Snechda I could imagine would be similarly crap unless there was tonnes of consolidate snow.

Snowshoes can be really quite different too - the MSR Lightenings are MUCH better on icy hard snow than most other designs for instance because of the nature of their frame.
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SethChili - on 03 Dec 2012
I would love to ski but cant afford the gear or tuition ( I usually swear by trial and error but I have been told it would be suicidal )
. The MSR Evo Ascent was sort of the thing I was thinking about as they seem to have an very aggressive crampon/spike system underneath which whilst I am not suggesting would be any good for seriously steep ground , it looked like a cheaper and lighter alternative to the usual 'B2 boots and 12 point crampons' that people recommend - overkill for my sort of walking .

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