Escape on snowshoes

Beyond the boundaries of heavily populated ski areas is a magical world of tranquillity, of undisturbed nature and uninterrupted views. On snowshoes, you are the motor, you leave behind shoe prints and support small businesses.

One of the great experiences on skis is when the solitude of the location really presents itself. When you can hear the birds overhead or the wind whistling off the rock and ice, or where you can stare far, far into the distance and see nothing but nature. These experiences can be the norm rather than fleeting moments when you step into the backcountry. Ever wondered why you see ski tourers embarking on trails than often begin at ski lift base station? It’s that need for escapism that you don’t get in Les 3 Vallées, Les 4 Vallées, the Arlberg or even the stupendous Dolomites.

The short-cut to the backcountry

Whilst ski touring requires a bit of training and specific equipment, the same terrain can be readily accessed on snowshoes. Lightweight and offering real freedom to navigate terrain that you couldn’t manage in just boots, snowshoeing is the short-cut to the backcountry for many. There are few mountain sports that require less training, snowshoeing is more an adaptation to equipment than the learning of new techniques.

Solitude is just over the ridge

The Alps can be a crowded place and yet beyond the marked boundaries of even the biggest ski areas, there are vast swathes of wilderness to explore. Escapism is seeing fresh tracks, undisturbed nature, views uninterrupted by humans and a silence only punctuated by the rhythms of nature. All these treasured moments are hard to recall in our busy work and personal lives. As a corporate event activity, snowshoeing routes can be as leisurely or demanding as required, and my god, lunch in a mountain hut tastes truly special when you’ve earnt it. Put on a pair of snowshoes, connect with nature, support a local business in the mountains and warm your hands on burning wood that was sourced metres from the fire.

A sustainable activity in the mountains

I recently came across a sustainable event programme in the middle east – the crux of it being litter collection of a desert area. It took a while to extricate my head from my hands and gather my thoughts. With a clearer head, here goes with those thoughts. To make sustainability programmes work in the events industry (and there is absolutely no other option) we need to get buy-in from the clients. Can you imagine the reaction when the event planner presents the concept for the corporate incentive trip to his/her colleagues – ‘we are going to desert and whilst there, we will collect litter.’ Unquestionably noble, and sure to make a difference to the environment, litter collection is both a hard-sell and does the sustainability brand a whole lot of harm. Sustainability is not one thing, it is numerous social and economic factors, the environment being a key consideration. But the idea of flying to the middle east, to exist in an air-conditioned bubble, where gender equality is light-years away and then to make it sustainable by hauling some plastic waste out of the desert is stuff of fantasy. The reality is that sustainability can be wholesome and life-affirming. In short, if a destination can't offer a sustainable solution, then they shouldn’t damage the cause by offering something that is beyond flimsy.

We will get there eventually - we'll have to!

Snowy walking trail at Birgitzeralm.
Mountain hut and terrace.
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