Do you fancy a winter holiday in snow-covered mountains but don't ski? We have the answer - a guided winter walking snowshoeing holiday in the Picos de Europa!
We could just say that snowshoeing is simply walking on snow without falling in, but that would be boring. Instead, with the help of our models Rachel and Alan, we thought we'd delve into the "art" of snowshoeing. You can click on any of the thumbnails on this page for larger images and a closer view of exactly what snowshoeing in the Picos de Europa entails. But first a few words about the necessary equipment.
When most people think of snowshoeing they imagine an unwieldy, tennis racket-like appendage strapped to the foot, possibly with the odd husky or two bounding alongside (or, more likely, miles in front). Modern snowshoes are actually much smaller than they imagine, narrow with bindings similar to those used for ski touring. You stick the toe of your boot into the front of the snowshoe where there is also a strap to tighten. The binding can be adjusted lengthways to fit the size of your boot. Your heel slots into the back where there's another strap to tie around your ankle so you don't lose the shoe if anything untoward happens! The back of the binding is free to move up and down as you walk, and to save stretching your calf tendons when walking uphill there's an added bonus of an optional "heel" which you can clip up. A bit like sticking on a pair of stilletoes. This simply clicks back down when the slope levels out. On the front underneath there's even a crampon for icy conditions. This slideshow shows snowshoes in more detail..........
Back to our models, let's have a closer look at what the well-equipped snowshoer is wearing this season. The observant among you will already have spotted the poles, essential for maintaining balance, helping to keep up a rhythmic pace as well as for testing the snow depth. Sensibly, Rachel and Alan have included gaiters in their personal clothing. (We can only assume that those rather large "day sacks" are carrying their fleeces, snowproof jackets and warm gloves). Our intrepid pair are obviously planning on making a summit or two, the ice axes strapped to their packs rather giving that game away. They may also be carrying their own flasks or water bottles of course, but shouldn't be carrying much food as we know their photographer/guide porters most of that. Here we can see that Rachel and Alan have escaped the "hordes" at the top of the cable car and are enjoying the tranquility of the Picos in winter. They've easily mastered the snowshoe walking style of keeping their feet a little more apart than usual and can relax to soak in the views of this miniature, though magnificent, European mountain range.
Our strategically placed base near the old town of Potes allows for easy access to the main Cantabrian mountain chain, the Cordillera Cantábrica, when we want a change from the Picos themselves. Here the landscape is softer with a more Scottish feel. As with ski touring, snowshoeing has little, if not no, impact on the environment. We are much more likely to encounter indigenous wildlife than human while enjoying the isolated tranquility of being at one with nature. On the left, Rachel takes in the view under the south face of Peña Prieta, at 2,538m the highest peak in the Cordillera Cantábrica.
Sometimes there's just no stopping a snowshoer from heading off ........
See more of our snowshoeing images on the Picos Galleries.
The price of 750€ pp. per week includes equipment (snowshoes and poles), 6 days guiding, transport and full-board guesthouse accommodation. It does not include snacks and drinks in bars or cable car tickets (@ 15€ pp. return).
For dates and availability go here.
Please send us an email to enquire
or call 0034 942732010 or text 0034 660551307