Environmentally-friendly winter sports holidays
Snowshoeing has been growing in popularity in recent years with more and more people discovering what it has to offer as an exciting and eco-friendly alternative to other winter sports. Choosing an environmentally conscious ski chalet is an excellent first step to reducing the impact of your ski holiday but the sport itself has a long way to go before it can be considered a low impact activity.
Why Choose Snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is for the independent minded. It’s for those who want to strike out into the winter wilderness with nothing but their four limbs and a sturdy bit of plastic strapped to their feet, for those who want to hear nothing but the satisfying crunch of walking in snow and see nothing but mountains, trees and sky. Snowshoeing offers the chance to escape the crowds and set off along your own trail leaving nothing but footprints and taking nothing but memories as they say (or more likely, photographs).
Snowshoeing can be a bit of fun, a serious mountain adventure, a good form of cardiovascular exercise and a chance to get closer to nature. Snowshoes are also an excellent way for amateur naturalists and photographers to explore the winter landscape.
What Makes Snowshoeing More Eco-Friendly?
Snowshoeing does not require the use of cable cars and ski lifts to reach the mountain tops and only one return journey (often possible by bus) is required to access your walk. Whilst benefiting the local community financially, the infrastructure required for skiing and snowboarding has a huge impact on the landscape, environment and culture of the areas it affects. Just look at a photo of a ski resort taken at the beginning of the 20th century, to see the dramatic changes to the landscape skiing has had.
It is hard to appreciate much more than the tears streaming from your eyes, the pounding of your heart and the adrenaline thumping through your body whilst skiing at 30mph. Whilst making your own trail through the deep powder between the trees high up on some rarely visited alp on snowshoes you have plenty of time to appreciate your environment. When taking a guided snowshoe walk your guide will also be able to tell you all about the flora, fauna, culture and even geology of the area you are walking in, deepening your appreciation, and therefore respect, for the environment you are in.
Manufacture and tuning
Although I have no reliable data I think it is reasonable to assume that the smaller, simpler and lighter snowshoes have a smaller carbon footprint in their manufacture than skis or snowboards. Snowshoes also do not require maintenance in the form of edging or waxing and rarely require repair as they are simple and sturdy. Most brands of ski wax are also undesirable pollutants which remain in the environment after the ski season is over.
Compaction of snow
All winter sports activities cause some compaction of snow. This reduces its insulating properties and leads to damage to plant life with a knock on effect for animal life. Because fewer snowshoers walk the same route as each other, the amount of compaction of the snow on each route is reduced and the large surface area the snowshoe provides also reduces the environmental impact.
All in all, this exciting and eye opening activity is an ideal winter sport for those looking to try something new and with a lower carbon footprint.
To find out more about Snowshoeing, to book a holiday, hire a guide or for any questions, please contact Indie Snow, Snowshoeing guide & International Mountain Leader