What they are
Snowshoes, better known as "ciaspe" in the Ladin dialect, are a kind of equipment that enables walking on snow.
From origin to present day
In the past large snowshoes were mainly used by hunters and farmers to move around with difficulty in snowy landscapes without sinking. Traditional snowshoes consisted in a hardwood circular frame with rawhide lacings. A wider leather lacing tied the shoe to the gear. At the turn of the century the army stationed in the High Puster Valley introduced new gear to get around in the winter and snowshoes were forgotten. A turnaround has been experienced in the past years: excursions in the snow have become fashionable again. Snowshoes turned out to be particularly suitable for slopes that are not too steep. Also, they can be easily used to walk in snowfields in the late winter. The material employed to make snowshoes has also improved: some modern kinds consist in a single piece of plastic, while others have an aluminum frame with a supporting surface in neoprene or polyurethane. Usually free-
No specific preparation or training is required for easier excursions, practicable by all age groups. A minimum training is required, as when summer hiking, for more difficult excursions. In both cases, you must always watch your step...
Walking or hiking boots and snow wear, including gaiters to keep snow out of your shoes, are usually ideal when using snowshoes.
Use snowshoes, but with caution
It is essential to underline that mountain excursions in the winter without the help of a guide can be risky if you are an inexperienced party. Excursions are often at high altitude, where the climate can change quickly. Avalanches are the largest threat. If you intend to go on serious excursions without the help of a guide, you must have a reasonable alpine experience: you must know the area well, and if you don't, you need to know how to read a topographic map and use an altimeter and a compass. You must always be informed about weather conditions and capable of planning the excursion based on your own capabilities. The itinerary has to be prepared beforehand, if possible. If you plan to enter risky areas you must own and know how to expertly use an avalanche transceiver, essential to search for avalanche victims, and you must always use it together with a shovel (to dig) and a probe (to search). You must naturally also be adequately equipped, and attired in winter clothing. So prudence before all: when in doubt, never hesitate to turn to trustworthy guides.
Watch the video below (Italian language) to see what snowshoes look like and what material and tips are necessary to experience this activity
Who should use snowshoes?
Snowshoeing is the natural progression from summer walking. People of all ages can undertake easy itineraries, even children between the ages of 8-
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