“Rough Guide to Alpine Snowshoeing” Published in Trail. Walkers and skiers don’t mix well, so is it possible to find a “snowshoe ski resort”? I did in Meribel, France.
Room For Everyone
The Alps in midwinter are for skiers and dedicated Alpinists. Right? Wrong, as I discovered when I took a day off from shredding the slopes to go snowshoeing. To those unfamiliar with the sport, you strap what look like tennis rackets to your feet, and bingo you can walk across fine, powdery snow – a great way of escaping the crowded, noisy ski slopes.
Parking up in Maribel, our guides, Laurent and Sylvain, dished out the shoes and ski poles. As I fiddled with the unfamiliar bindings, Laurent lashed himself into a sledge crammed with traditional Savoie cheeses, wines and sausages.
The going was easy, I just felt like a six-year-old clumping around in my dad’s size ten slippers. I wasn’t the only first timer and we laughed at each other’s ham-footed technique.
We were soon helped by those among us who’d spent the whole week investigating nooks and crannies hidden away from the pulsing ski scene. As we moved quietly into the dappled light of some woods we began spotting stoats, red squirrels and woodpeckers. Under the scorching sun, the sweet smell of rising sap and toasting pine leaves filled the air.
When the slope steeped, we began to zigzag up, relying on the shoes integral crampons. The soft swishing of my companions faded as our line gradually fractured, each of us settling into our own natural rhythm. It was only when we paused at the plateau that I noticed my lungs were having to work harder in the thin air.
We regrouped and Sylvain led us to our picnic spot looking up to the Glacier de Gebroulaz. Laurent laid out a suitable large blanket and covered it with food and, in typically French style, began dishing out copious amounts of wine – he’d bought a dozen bottles for every one of water. As if that wasn’t enough, to accompany desert, he concocted a hot toddy of coffee liqueur, which we passed around and drank from a wooden pot straight from the Brothers Grimm.
As you would expect after such a lunch the afternoon passed jovially and I have to recommend snow shoeing as a very civilized way of relaxing in the mountains.
So Yes, in the Alps, it is possible to find a snowshoe ski resort
Original Magazine Article: