Well, snowshoers asked and Andrew Nugara has delivered. The not-so-long-awaited Beginners Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, which has come hot on the heels of Nugara’s more advanced guide Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, is now available through Rocky Mountain Books.
If you own a copy of Nugara’s first guide you might think, at first glance, that the preliminaries are the same in the beginner’s guide but that’s not so. Of course some sections are almost unchanged such as weather, technique and etiquette as these don’t change whether you’re a beginner or expert. But other sections, such as types of snowshoes, are much more detailed in the beginner’s guide and include photos, product names to look up to get started and a weight chart.
The beginner’s guide just makes a reference to mountaineering tools such as ice axe and crampons as well as spends less time on avalanche information compared to the advanced guide. Instead, more time is spent on how to snowshoe with young families including how to transport children under three and what types of trails are best for different age groups. A bonus is appendix C which lists all the family friendly trips in the book.
A special section on lakes has been added in this guidebook since Nugara points out that over 50 percent of the trips in the book require the snowshoer to cross lakes, streams or rivers. A very important section especially in shoulder seasons in the Rockies.
Another great section which Nugara included is Beyond Beginner Snowshoeing and is full of great information as to what experience a snowshoer should gain once they’re ready to go beyond the beginner stage. Mountaineering courses, avalanche training and rock climbing lessons are listed along with websites to get you started.
Trips are listed with level of difficulty, elevation gain, trip time and distance as well as map references. There are a lot of great beginner trips such as the Sundance Trail near the Banff townsite and the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail with its classic stunning scenery. One thing to note is that some of the trips in the beginner guide are in the same areas as the advanced guide so a group of advanced and beginner snowshoers could easily all show up at a trailhead and take different routes according to their level but still meet up at the end of the day. One example is Burstall Lakes in the beginner guide (Page 193, trip 42) and Burstall Pass in the advanced guide (Pg. 202, trip 32).
Again, Nugara offers a series of appendices which lists trips according to levels of difficulty, trip combos if you find your kids or friends had way more energy than you thought, Nugara’s favourites as well as info centres in various areas. Included are small maps to help you find your trip destinations and awesome photos as usual.All in all a great little guide to have and I’m glad to have this one join Nugara’s advanced guide for endless snowshoe trip ideas in the Canadian Rockies!