Paul Ridge. Photo: Stephen Hui
Paul Ridge. Photo: Stephen Hui

Snowshoeing season is in full swing — and that’s keeping search and rescue teams busy. After North Shore Rescue reported a hectic Family Day, CBC News invited me to share some tips for staying safe on snowshoes.

We headed up to Hollyburn Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park for the interview, which aired on TV (CBC News Vancouver at 6) and radio (The Early Edition). The resulting CBC News article also quotes Coquitlam Search and Rescue’s Michael Coyle, a contributor to 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia. Here’s an excerpt:

Stephen Hui, hiking expert and author of soon-to-be-released 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, offered some tips on the dos and don’ts of snowshoeing:

  • Don’t tie the snowshoes too tight.
  • Check the latest avalanche forecast before heading out.
  • Avoid tree wells, under the base of a tree, which can be covered in loose snow and into which you can easily fall.
  • Stick to the middle of the path.
  • Be cautious about speed and check for obstacles, like rocks or trees, before glissading.
  • Going down steep sections, put the weight on your heels so the back of the snowshoe bites into the snow, but avoid falling backwards.
  • Practice proper outdoor bathroom etiquette — don’t litter on the trails.
  • Know what time the sun sets.
  • Use adequate gear: wool socks, gaiters and microspikes if necessary.
  • Carry the 10 essentials for survival.

In addition to the usual essentials, AdventureSmart (a national program funded by Public Safety Canada) recommends snowshoers bring the following gear:

  • Warm, waterproof jacket & pants
  • Thermal underwear
  • A second layer for warmth on colder days
  • Warm gloves, socks & hat, with extras of each
  • Waterproof hiking boots or shoes
  • Snowshoes
  • Hydration system
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Winter/ski poles (optional)

On his search and rescue blog, Coyle offers additional commentary on the hazards of snowshoeing.

105 Hikes is available now at bookstores everywhere. Buy the book today.

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