Basic Snowshoeing Course - Seattle - 2024

Snowshoeing Course

Basic Snowshoeing Course

Basic Snowshoeing Course - Seattle 2024

The Basic Snowshoeing Course offers an introduction to safe and enjoyable winter travel for the beginner. It is designed for people who want to get a taste of snowshoeing and pick up solid foundational skills. Topics of instruction will include selection and use of proper equipment, conditioning, where to go, what to rent, winter travel, avalanche awareness, safety, and choosing an outing. Students will be eligible to participate in Beginner and Basic rated snowshoe tours with the confidence of having a foundation in winter travel. Beginner and Basic rated snowshoe tours have different strenuousness ratings varying from Easy to Moderate to Strenuous or Very Strenuous. Participation in more strenuous tours may be dependent upon your fitness level.

Course Expectations and Requirements

Important note: To fully register and graduate from this course you need to sign up for each of these 3 separate course components, and complete one other component outside of this course:

  1. Register for this Basic Snowshoeing Course and pay the course fee.
  2. Sign up for an available Lecture. This is a 2.5 hour Lecture on a weekday evening at the Seattle Program Center. Also note that attendance at the lecture is mandatory in order for you to take the Field Trip. There are NO exceptions.
  3. Sign up for the Field Trip Preview session. This is a one hour virtual session on a weekday evening. Attendance is mandatory in order for you to take the Field Trip.
  4. Sign up for an available Field Trip. This is a full day Field Trip on a Saturday or Sunday at the Grace Lakes area at Stevens Pass.  
  5. Successfully complete the Avalanche Awareness Course, a 1 - 2 hour class that is an introduction to understanding and avoiding avalanches. The Avalanche Awareness Course requirement can be completed before or after the Field Trip, but must be completed in order to graduate. The Mountaineers is hosting NWAC for several lectures this year and also offers an online self-guided option. 

Space  on the field 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 a foundational course, a moderate physical conditioning level is necessary. The field trip involves approximately 3-4 miles of travel round-trip and up to 600 feet total elevation gain on snowshoes. This is the equivalent of approximately 6-8 miles and up to 1,200 feet elevation gain if 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 but 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 Beginner and Basic snowshoeing trips., as described above. Those desiring to join Intermediate snowshoeing trips, which require additional skills and backcountry knowledge, must take the Intermediate Snowshoeing  course offered in January/February after completing this course.


There are currently no restrictions in place. The lecture and field trips will be held in person, and the trip planning meeting will be held remotely. Masks are optional. 

We encourage participants to carpool for the field trips, as parking can be limited. We do not facilitate carpooling, however course emails will include information on ways participants may  arrange carpooling amongst yourselves.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Every person's clothing needs are different. Some people get colder more quickly than others. Remember: NO COTTON.  If you don't have any of this gear, try borrowing it from friends before you spend money.

For  the  field  trip,  you  must  bring  the  Ten  Essentials  and  Clothing  &  Equipment. 

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 & 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.


  • Pack  (large  enough  for  all  winter  gear)
  • Snowshoes
  • Ski Poles/Trekking poles with baskets
  • Sturdy, lug-soled, waterproofed boots    
  • Clothing Layers (no cotton)

Inner  Layer:

  • Wicking Liner socks, 2 pairs (one pair worn, other pair carried)
  • Synthetic Warm Underwear, top & bottom, 2 sets (one set worn, other set carried)
  • Liner gloves,  (+extra set in pack)

Insulating  Layer:

  • Outer socks, 2 pairs (one pair worn, other pair carried)
  • Pants, synthetic fleece or wool. Soft-shell or sturdy hiking pants suffice for many.
  • Shirt or sweater, synthetic fleece or wool
  • Mittens or gloves, 2 pairs (one pair worn, other pair carried)

Protective  Layer:

  • Rain parka with hood – waterproof & breathable preferred; remember, coated nylon doesn’t breathe and traps moisture under the clothing.
  • Rain pants – waterproof & breathable preferred to avoid trapped moisture.
  • Long gaiters. Be sure they fit your boots correctly so that snow doesn’t crawl underneath. GoreTex or insulated gaiters are not necessary.
  • Hats (one for warmth; one for sun protection).
  • Wind jacket (which may be your rain parka). A fleece or wind stopper vest is also handy if it is warm.
  • Scarf or neck gaiter if you tend to get cold easily.

Additional  Recommended  Equipment/Supplies  for  the  Field  Trip:  

  • Foam sit pad
  • Hand and toe warmers
  • Toilet paper, sealable plastic bags, and hand sanitizer
  • Pack cover
  • 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