Snow Shoe Technique

a. General. There is little difference in snow shoeing compared to normal walking, except that the surface being walked on is inconsistent, and snowshoes are longer, wider, heavier, and consequently more awkward, than normal footwear. With standard military snowshoes, the stride is somewhat longer than in normal walking, but the shape of the snowshoe allows the snow shoer's stance to be a normal width, thereby reducing much strain and fatigue on his hips and legs. Its should be stressed that the snowshoer should walk in a relaxed, and normal rolling toe manner, and should only lift the snowshoe high enough to clear the surface of the snow.

b. Turning.

(1) The kick turn. This is normally the easiest way to change directions on level ground. One snowshoe is swung up to the front so that its tail is on the snow,

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then it is allowed to pivot towards the new direction. The other snowshoe is then brought around.

(a) On steep terrain. It is important to remember to step off with the uphill foot, when changing direction. For example: if making a turn to the right, shift your weight to the left foot, face down the slope, and swing the right snow shoe around to point in the direction of the next switchback. Then stamp the right snowshoe into the snow. Make sure the tail is not on the left snowshoe. Now, gently shift your weight to your right foot and swing the left snowshoe around so it is parallel with your right snowshoe.

(b) Each succeeding man. When using the kick turn technique on steep terrain, try and stay well above your previous trail. This trail has undermined the snow on which you are now building the turn. As each succeeding man uses the turn, it will tend to slough off on the shoulders, and the men toward the end of the column will have a hard time getting around. This can be prevented if care is used by each man in placing his snowshoes precisely where those in front of him have placed theirs. If there is only one way around an obstacle, this can be very important.

(2) The star turn. This can also be used to change direction by simply executing a series of half facing movements.

(3) Choosing a route. When climbing, plan to use the gentlest places on a slope for turns. Look ahead, and pick the route, using the terrain to your advantage. Avoid the steep terrain and don't hesitate to make short switchbacks.

c. Side Step. This is used when the slope is at a critical angle.

d. Herringbone. This is used when the slope is at a gradual angle.

e. Crossing Obstacles. Here are a few simple rules to remember.

(1) Always step over obstacles. Do this to avoid damaging snowshoes and losing balance.

(2) Never bridge a gap. Bridging a gap is when the snowshoe tip and tail are supporting your weight, while the center of the shoe is suspended.

(3) Shallow snow. In shallow snow, there is a danger of catching, and tearing the webbing on tree stumps, or snag, which are only slightly covered.

(4) Wet snow. This will frequently ball up under the feet, interfering with comfortable walking. This snow should be knocked off as soon as possible.

(5) Deep loose snow. Movement in deep loose snow is very exhausting if not on an existing trail. Trail breaking responsibilities should be rotated frequently if in a group.

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