Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Last night I had my first snowshoeing class.  From what I understand, learning snowshoeing is a 21 step process.

Step 1: Strap on snowshoes.
Take 20 steps.

Woohoo!  You can now snowshoe!

The actual process of snowshoeing is not the problem.  It's the being safe while you snowshoe that's the problem.

Things I learned last night:

1)The avalanche triad: terrain, weather, and snowpack.  (For the record, when they talked about how wind could fill up a couler, everyone nodded knowingly.  I wouldn't admit it, but I was lost until I came back and tried different spellings until Wikipedia could help.  Because of course I couldn't ask what it was when everyone else was so matter of fact about how obvious it was.)
2) Likely places to sunburn: the bottom of your chin, the inside and bottom of your ears. Because of the reflection of the snow.  Never thought of that.
3) Use a wide mouth water bottle, not a narrow one.  It's less likely to freeze shut on you that way.
4) The difference between the windward and leeward side of the mountain.  Just so you know, it's safer with regards to an avalanche to be on the windward side.
5) Snow blindness is actually a sunburn of the retinas.  Ouch!  All the burning and the itching, but nothing that you can do to relieve the symptoms.

Wednesday I get to learn about the snowshoe gear itself, then Thursday or Friday I can go broke shopping for all this stuff.  Saturday we hit the snow!  I can't wait.  And I'm glad we'll be with several instructors that know what the heck a couler is and can keep us safe while we fumble around in the snow.

(Ahem.  Note to instructors: Certain people who may get a little caught up in the rules at times would like to make sure that they have the proper "10 Essentials" gear.  When you get to the "Emergency Shelter" essential, perhaps you could be a little more specific than "bivy sack, reflective tarp, etc." "Etc."?! What the heck does that all include??  I need to know what "etc." is!! Thank you.)


  1. Wow! I am super impressed! I can't remember the last time I tried something new and exciting like this.. maybe when I learned to ski in 6th grade? Have a blast learning!

    Oh, and since I'm completely ignorant about this stuff, would you mind explaining a "couler" to me? That'll save me some time on google... 0:-)

  2. Well, not going to lie, I didn't get a very good idea of what it was. Just that it is generally a depression or dip in the terrain of some sort from water drainage. Even though it's not too specific, I can nod knowingly with the best of them next time! :)