This is the 20th year of our mountain guides School in Arco at Lake Garda Dolomites Alps Italy. According to our guests' opinion these are the highlights of trekking climbing canyoning trips and courses
Excursions with snowshoes in the winter are beginning to draw more and more attention and interest for a large number of persons as they are offering the possibility to encounter nature even in the cold season without too much physical exercise and without the use of complex equipment. The dinner in company with your friends in a warm and cozy mountain inn or in a mountain lodge situated in a lonesome valley which is easily accessible by hiking in the snow under the moonlight, will make you live a very special and different weekend.
This type of trekking requires a basic physical condition. Some sense for adventure, training and flexibility are necessary for the overnight stay in the mountain lodge.
Parking-lot at highway exit: autostrada ROVERETO SUD on Saturday at 10 hrs. - you can park your car there and from there we are leaving with our mini-vans to the starting point of the excursion.
From the meeting point we reach with our mini-vans a typical mountain inn (30 min. drive) and we occupy the rooms which we have reserved for you. The trip on Saturday reaches the "Busoni": there are interesting forts, trenches and tunnels dug into the rocks by Austrian soldiers during the World Wear I (torch indispensable). The excursion will take us about 3 hrs time of walking. For the trip on Sunday we follow a path between the "malghe" (malga = alpine farms, typical Italian cow shelter). We will walk ca. 4 hrs. on nice, undulated snow fields.
From the meeting point we reach with our mini-vans a typical mountain village (40 min. drive). Everyone puts on his show-shoes and we are starting with the ascent to the lodge which we will reach after ca. 3 1/2 hrs time of walking (slowly) on an easy path. You will be served a set dinner but you will have the option and possibility to choose between some typical local dishes which you agree upon with the other participants. Soft drinks, beer and wine, available as you like. Accommodation: 'mountain-lodge-style' which is dormitory-like: all in one large room. Although a great number of blankets is available, we recommend to bring a sleeping-bag. On the following day, on Sunday, we will try to reach the mountain top "Col Santo" (2.100 m.) in an appx. 1 hrs. walk with the snow-shoes. Descent back to the village through easy and panoramic snow fields in ca. 3 hrs. walking time.
After dinner we are suggesting to everyone who is interested a small night excursion in the moonlight or under the stars.
We will provide you with the snowshoes and one pair of hiking poles upon arrival at the starting point of our tour.
For further info: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Warm and solid hiking boots - wind- and waterproof winter-jacket (possibly with hood) with warm lining or down-jacket - skiing pants or similar -hat/cap and gloves - backpack (big enough to fit your belongings) - drinking bottle/thermos with drink - torch - one pair of hiking sticks (if you do not have any, you can get them from us) - The mountain lodge provides sufficient blankets for everyone - in any case we recommend to bring along a sleeping bag.
Snowshoes are footwear for walking over snow. Snowshoes work by
distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot doesn't sink completely into the
snow, a quality called "flotation". Traditional snowshoes have a hardwood frame with rawhide lacings. Some modern
snowshoes are similar, but most are made of light metal while others are a single piece of plastic attached to the
foot to spread the weight. In addition to distributing the weight, snowshoes are generally raised at the toe for
maneuverability. They must not accumulate snow, hence the latticework, and require bindings to attach them to the
feet. While nowadays they are mainly used for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their
hobby in wintertime, in the past they were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or
living depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall. Even today, snowshoes are
necessary equipment for forest rangers and others who must be able to get around areas inaccessible to motorized
vehicles when the snow is deep.
When putting on snowshoes, left is distinguished from right by which way the loose ends of the binding straps point: always outward, to avoid stepping on them repeatedly. Snowshoes function best when there is enough snow beneath them to pack a layer between them and the ground, usually at a depth of 8 inches (20 cm) or more. Snowshoeing can be done anywhere there is sufficient snow. There is no need to go to a special area of any kind, although such areas may offer some amenities not found in the typical woodlot or golf course.
It is often said by snowshoers that if you are able to walk, you can snowshoe. This is true, but snowshoeing properly
requires some slight adjustments to walking. The method of walking is to lift the shoes slightly and slide the
overlapping inner edges over each other, thus avoiding the unnatural and fatiguing "straddle-gait" that would
otherwise be necessary. A snowshoer must be willing to roll his or her feet slightly as well. An exaggerated stride
works best when starting out, particularly with larger or traditional shoes. New snowshoers find the learning curve
to be quite steep. It helps that accidental, humiliating and potentially injurious falls are far less common to
snowshoeing than other winter sports.
Walking skills are easily transferable to straightforward snowshoe travel, but this is not always the case with turning around. While a snowshoer with space to do so can, and usually does, simply walk in a small semicircle, on a steep slope or in close quarters such as a boreal forest this may be impractical or impossible. It is thus necessary in such circumstances to execute a "kick turn" similar to the one employed on skis: lifting one foot high enough to keep the entire snowshoe in the air while keeping the other planted, putting the foot at a [180 degree angle] and parallel to the other (or as close as possible for the situation and the snowshoer's physical comfort), then planting it on the snow and quickly repeating the action with the other foot. This is much easier to accomplish with poles. Kick turns do, however, put considerable strain on the hip muscles, and if many have to be made during a snowshoeing trip, these can be very sore the next day.
While the cleating and traction improvements to modern snowshoes have greatly enhanced snowshoers' climbing abilities, on very steep slopes it is still beneficial to make "kick steps," kicking the toes of the shoes into the snow to create a kind of snow stairs for the next traveler to use. Alternatively, snowshoers can use two techniques borrowed from skis: the herringbone (walking uphill with the shoes spread outward at an angle to increase their support) and the sidestep.
Once a trail has been broken up a mountain or hill, snowshoers often find a way to speed up the return trip that manages to also be fun and rests the leg muscles: glissading the trail, or sliding down on their buttocks. This does not damage the trail, and in fact helps pack the snow better for later users. Great distances can be descended by glissading, and any number of methods to control one's speed and direction are available to the experienced snowshoer: the shoes, poles, hands (if properly gloved), body English and self-arrest techniques. In situations where they must break trail downhill and thus cannot glissade, snowshoers sometimes run downhill in exaggerated steps, sliding slightly on the snow as they do, an option sometimes called "step sliding." If carrying poles and properly experienced, they can also employ skiing techniques such as telemarking.
On newfallen snow it is necessary for a snowshoer to "break" a trail. This is very exhausting (it may require up to 50% more energy than simply following behind) even on level terrain, and frequently in groups this work is shared among all participants, sometimes in shifts as short as three minutes. It is thus not recommended to snowshoe solo, particularly up a mountain, without a broken route. A trail breaker can improve the quality of the ensuing route by using a technique, similar to the hiking rest step, called "stamping": pausing momentarily after each step before putting full weight on the foot. This helps smooth the snow underneath and compacts it even better for the next user. A well-broken trail is usually a rut in the snow about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) deep and 2 feet (61 cm) wide. While it may appear after heavy use as if it is possible to "bareboot" or walk it without benefit of snowshoes, this practice is frowned upon by serious snowshoers as it leads to "postholing," or roughening of the trail from places where boots have fallen through (initial appearances to the contrary, the snow in a broken trail is not sufficiently packed to support the more concentrated weight of a foot).
Snowshoeing expands the potential for exercise available in the wintertime. As of 2006, at least 500 American schools, mostly but not exclusively in the Northeast have started offering snowshoe programs in their physical education classes to help combat obesity. It had the added benefit of being gentler on the feet than walking or running the equivalent routes, since snow cushions the foot's impact. For the same reason, it is less detrimental to the environment, since the snow likewise buffers the earth against the impact of so many hikers and campers, cutting back on trail erosion and other effects of heavy use. While the cold creates its own safety risks, there is less chance of a hiker getting lost on snowshoes, since they can follow their own trail back. Snowshoeing makes even familiar hikes different and new. If the snow is deep enough, obstacles such as large boulders and fallen logs can be more easily bypassed. Winter transforms familiar forests into something wonderful and strange, and clearer, bluer skies in winter often afford more sweeping, longer-range views from favorite lookouts than are available in summer situations. The stillness of the air, quiet and snow cover give nature a pristine feel that is sometimes lacking at other times of year. As Florence Page Jaques put it in her book, Snowshoe Country, "I love the deep silence of the midwinter woods. It is a stillness you can rest your whole weight against ... This silence is so profound you are sure it will hold and last."
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