Snowshoeing in Steep Terrain

Snoqualmie Mountain - Snowshoe "bowling" after a step blew out. Luckily (?), he crashed into a tree.
David Shema David Shema
December 08, 2014

December 30, 2012 - Snoqualmie Mountain

Injuries: Sore Shoulder
Cause: Wearing snowshoes while descending steep slope.



We had two incidents of a person falling and sliding while wearing snowshoes. In one fall, the person slid about 30 yards and toppled another party member before stopping.  

In the second incident, we were retreating from a slope that was too steep. While moving down, one person started sliding. He knocked over several other party members, then slid down further before stopping. That person said he hit a tree and complained of a sore shoulder. When we regrouped and became aware of an injury, the group decided to retreat. All made it back to the parking lot.   

Some thoughts come to mind:

  • The group should not have attempted the pitch that caused incidents and turned us around, but rather contoured around the feature. 
  • The group should not have set a track straight up the fall-line, but rather done more angle lines and switch-backing.  Once a step "blew out", the path became a chute with lower climbers in harm’s way. 
  • When caught in steep terrain, consider removing snowshoes despite post-holing. The last person to fall was down-climbing with snowshoes. The person above him removed his snowshoes before successfully kicking steps on the way down. 

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