cross country ski or snowshoe New Hampshire from Intervale to North Conway NH in Mt. Washington Valley at Mt. Washington Valley ski touring and snowshoe foundation

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Going Up  Breaking Trail  Downhill  Ski Poles

Going Up . . .
When going up on gently sloping terrain it is easiest to climb directly up the hill facing forward. As the slope increases in grade or the soft snow depth increases it will then become easier to traverse at a 45 degree angle to the slope. Illustration for Traversing Steep Open Slope on Snowshoe Reprinted from Snowshoeing, 3rd Edition, by Gene Prater, The Mountaineers, 1988)
Do short swichbacks for steep and narrow slopes and longer switchbacks on wider expanses. Make sure to maintain a steady angle upwards and avoid traversing straight across the fall line of the slope. Snowshoes do not traverse well in this manner. On narrow trails sometimes the only option is to ascend straight up. This requires some practice and technique. In soft snow pick the toe up and plant it forward evenly while gradually loading it with your weight.

This can be difficult in soft snow. Use care to try and maintain the Illustration of Step Kicking Up Soft Snow Slope (Reprinted from Snowshoeing, 3rd Edition, by Gene Prater, The Mountaineers, 1988)new track for snowshoers following. Other techniques for climbing may include sidestepping, kick-stepping side-kicking and herringbone stepping.

Breaking Trail . . .
When snowshoeing in a group it is most effective to share trail breaking duties. Use short strides and start steps with the tail of the shoes to prevent the toe from loading up with snow. Trade off leading the snowshoe party every few minutes depending on the depth of soft snow and the grade of the trail. Taking turns breaking trails allows the entire party to move faster over the trail.

Downhill . . .
Going downhill can be the most fun you'll have all day. Plan your descent based on snow cover, angle of the slope and the density of the forest around you. You can take longer strides and almost glissade down a slope with soft snow cover. Be careful not to lean forward to allow snow to build up on the toe of the snowshoe or you'll nose-dive! Consider others who may ascend your trail. Try to avoid damaging the trail platform you have left and if you can glissade down try to pick a path of fresh snow away from your ascending trail. Other snowshoe parties will be very grateful.

Ski Poles . . .
Many snowshoers use ski poles for maneuverability and balance. Besides helping work out the upper body, they help provide support while stepping up or down. They can be used as a brake while descending and be used as an aid in getting over obstacles like logs, fences, stone walls or at stream crossings.

Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation PO Box 646 Intervale, NH 03845
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