Basic Snowshoeing Course - Foothills - 2018

Snowshoeing Course

Basic Snowshoeing Course

Intro to snowshoe. Learn how to get out into the winter wonderland confidently and safely on snowshoes.

Want to learn to snowshoe? This course is designed for those with no or little experience who want to learn the basics of snowshoeing. Whether you are new to snowsports and want to have fun in the winter outdoors, or yearn to extend the hiking season to include winter adventures, this is the course to get you started. This course will cover basic balance, maneuvering on snowshoes, going up hill and handling downhills, through a combination of lectures and field practice. Topics will include selection and use of proper equipment, renting equipment, choosing a trip based on conditioning and skill level, winter clothing and winter travel safety.

Students will be eligible to participate in Easy and Easy+ rated snowshoe trips with the confidence of having a solid foundation in snowshoeing.

The course consists of the following:

  • Course Lecture;
  • Avalanche Awareness;
  • Course Field Trip.


Sign-up procedure

Important note: To fully register for the Basic Snowshoeing Course you need to sign up for the 3 separate components:

  1. After you register for the Basic Snowshoeing Course and pay the course fee, then sign up for an available Course Lecture. This is a 3 hour class on a weekday evening. Also note that attendance at the lecture is mandatory in order to attend a Field Trip. There are NO exceptions.
  2. Sign up for an Avalanche Awareness seminar. The course includes avalanche awareness education provided by the Northwest Avalanche Center, and graduates will be awarded an Avalanche Awareness Badge. We use the first 30-45 minutes of the session to review student snowshoeing gear, so it is highly recommended it precedes the Field Trip. Please bring your winter boots, snowshoes, gaiters and poles, an important step in preparing for the Field Trip. If you already have an Avalanche Awareness Badge, this seminar can be optional, but you must sign up first, then let the leader know you plan to opt out.
  3. Sign up for an available Field Trip that follows the Lecture. This is a full day of field practice on a Saturday or Sunday at Commonwealth Basin at Snoqualmie Pass.

Space at lectures, field trips and regular trips is limited, so please sign up early to ensure you get the dates that work for you.

Link to Mountaineers Financial Assistance Program.

Things to consider before signing up:

1) While this is an introductory course, snowshoeing is a great aerobic exercise, and a moderate level of physical conditioning is necessary. A typical field trip will involve approximately 3-4 miles of travel round-trip and up to 600 feet total elevation gain on snowshoes. This is the equivalent of a summer hike of approximately 6-8 miles and up to 1,200 feet elevation gain wearing hiking boots on trail.

2) If you are new to the outdoors and the Ten Essentials, expect a moderate level of investment in equipment and clothing ($200-600 for new or mostly new items). Used quality gear and clothing is a good way to begin building your inventory. It is also always wise to rent or borrow snowshoes before investing in them. Check the Required Equipment list in advance to begin preparing for the items you will need for this course and for snowshoeing in general. (We will also cover clothing and gear in detail during the lecture).

Graduates of this course are eligible to join Easy and Easy+ snowshoe trips. Those desiring to join Moderate and/or Strenuous snowshoe trips, which require additional skills and knowledge, must take the Backcountry Snowshoeing Skills course offered in late January, in addition to this course.

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

A large part of the classroom evening is devoted to gear and clothing, how/why to choose it and where it may be purchased or rented. We suggest that those new to snowshoeing refrain from purchasing new equipment until after the classroom session, or try borrowing it from friends before you spend money.  This will probably avoid a few of the missteps of overpurchasing or purchasing inadequate gear.  One thing to remember, NO COTTON.

 Important note: Some people's feet get colder more quickly than others, and everyone's feet are different. Students should wear winter boots with insulation for snowshoeing.  If you're bringing a pair of boots that you wear in the summer, they're not warm enough. The guidance we give for snowshoeing is to wear insulated, waterproof Winter Boots. They have thick soles, rubber/leather uppers and insulation. If you're not sure, Winter Boots are made to wear in snow and are too warm to wear in summer.


A limited number of MSR snowshoes will be available for students to rent. If you're interested in this option, please contact the leader for more information.


For  the  field  trip,  and on regular trips, you  must  bring  your Clothing & Equipment and  Ten Essentials.

Ten essentials

Map (provided to you), compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra clothing, emergency shelter, headlamp/flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife, extra food and water. Sun protection is a must. Snow reflection is highly damaging to eyes; UV damage and sunburns are common if proper protection is not used.


  • Winter boots (insulated)
  • Gaiters
  • Snowshoes
  • Backpack (large enough for all winter gear)
  • Ski / trekking poles with snow baskets
  • Clothing layers (adjustable to your activity level and the weather - No cotton)
    • Base layer: Wicking liner socks, glove liners, synthetic or wool long underwear that wicks away moisture, insulates well and dries quickly. Lightweight or midweight versions are available; pick a thickness based on the temperature and your activity level. A zippered top lets you adjust body heat as you stop and go.
    • Insulating layer: Wool socks, synthetic soft-shell pants, Polartec® or Primaloft® polyester mid-layer jackets. "Active Insulation" clothing makes a good mid-layer since it retains heat when wet and breathes as you exercise.
    • Outer layer: A waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants that keep you dry and fend off wind.
  • Hats, Gloves and Accessories (to prevent loss of body heat/protect from sunburn)
    • A wool or synthetic hat, headband or balaclava retains heat; a wide-brimmed hat or a ball cap can shade your eyes on sunny days or keep snow out of your eyes.
    • Waterproof ski gloves or mittens are a must to keep your hands dry and warm. On cold days, combine shells with fleece mittens or gloves. In milder conditions, glove liners may be all you need.
    • A scarf or neck gaiter is a must especially on windy days, or if you tend to get cold easily.

Additional  Recommended  Equipment:  

  • Foam sit pad
  • Hand and toe warmers
  • Pack cover
  • Toilet paper, sealable plastic bags, and hand sanitizer
  • Dry clothes and shoes in your car for the trip home
  • Garbage bags in your car for wet gear
  • Camera and extra batteries, if desired
Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.