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dave norona/for metro vancouver
Snowshoeing has become one of the biggest wintertime outdoor sports throughout North America. I can’t believe how many people I see snowshoeing on a regular basis on the North Shore Mountains.
This year, mother nature has dumped huge amounts of snow throughout the Lower Mainland and snowshoeing is one of the easiest, simplest and most enjoyable ways to get outside and explore. If you have not tried this winter sport yet, then here are some ways and places to entice you to give it a go.
All three local mountains, Cypress, Grouse and Seymour, offer incredible terrain and trails for you to experience snowshoeing in a safe and fun environment. You can also head off to your favourite backcountry hiking areas for free. However, you will need to have experience, avalanche safety gear and great backcountry safety knowledge to handle the terrain,
My favourite place to snowshoe is the Mundy Alpine Park on Grouse Mountain. Here, just steps from the tram, you can experience undulating terrain filled with tons of fresh powder overlooking the gorgeous city of Vancouver. If you own a yearly Grouse Skyride Pass for your summertime Grouse Grind Adventures then you can use that same pass to get you up the mountain for snowshoeing free of charge.
All three local mountains offer excellent high-end rental snowshoes at a very low price, so you don’t have to own. This is also an excellent way to try different brands and models before you buy.
If you’re looking to buy, then choose a snowshoe that is small and lightweight. The smaller snowshoes that are used for running are ideal — even if you’re just walking — since they allow you the best mobility and are easy to lift in the deep powder snow. Look for a simple binding that accommodates your footwear easily and one with a good crampon system that provides traction in all conditions.
Dress for snowshoeing like you would for a wintertime hike or run because when you’re moving you will remain quite warm. To keep your feet warm and toasty use Seal Skin Gore-Tex socks which keep the cold snow away from your skin. I prefer Gore-Tex running shoes as well as they allow you better mobility and are lighter weight. Don’t forget to load your pack up with extra gloves and warm clothing to put on when you stop for some trailside hot chocolate.
Some people prefer using poles to help them up steep terrain and for extra balance on the way down. This is purely preference and if you use poles for summertime hiking then chances are you will like them for winter snowshoeing. Just make sure that if you do decide on poles to get a pair that breaks down so that they can fit into your pack. The Black Diamond Flicklock Poles are the perfect pole at only $53 at MEC.
Now you’re ready to hit the mountains and explore. See you out there!
Icebreaker Women’s Olympia Crewe
Description: Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 base layer is the ultimate weapon against the cold winter weather while snowshoeing. Super comfy and very breathable, this top will keep you dry and warm in all conditions.
Where to find it: www.icebreaker.com
Atlas 1025+ Snowshoes
Description: The 1025+ snowshoes from Atlas are the perfect all-around snowshoe for any outdoor enthusiast. Lightweight aluminum, super-grip crampons and spring-loaded suspension provide a natural foot position on varied terrain.
Where to find it: www.atlassnowshoe.com
Black Diamond Deploy 3 Shovel
Description: Keep your backcountry snowshoe gear light and efficient with Black Diamond’s Deploy Shovel. The ergonomic handle, stiff, trapezoidal shaft (that will not rotate) collapses into the back of the blade for easy transport.
Where to find it: www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Columbia Titanium Zephyr XCR Shoe
Description: Keep your feet warm and toasty with Columbia’s Zephyr XCR lightweight shoe. The waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX XCR membrane will keep your feet warm all day while out snowshoeing.
Where to find it: www.columbiasportswear.com