A Walk in the Snow with David Walp

November 16, 2001

David Walp’s experience and expertise in outdoor activities covers a broad spectrum; interestingly, he suggested that snowshoeing has unique benefits. If one can walk, one can snowshoe — no special physical skills are required and it can be done at ease while admiring the surroundings.

However, David made it clear that proper attention should be given to equipment and technique for best experience. His views on the latter were contrary to much popular belief. He thinks poorly of contemporary designs of snowshoes and prefers to use a variety of traditional shoes (wide and long) to fit the conditions of the snow and the total weight of the load. David also feels that crampons and poles are unnecessary and indeed that the use of poles breaks the stride and that most falls involve the use of poles. He sometimes carries one pole, especially when bushwhacking, primarily as a probe. Learning to make proper contact with the snow avoids the need for crampons.

It would appear that the best way to learn proper technique would be to go on a trip with an experienced leader (Eugene Parks & Recreation, LCC and Campbell Senior Center arrange such trips). Incidentally, David said that there are many good snowshoeing areas that are unfortunately not readily accessible from roads. The SnoParks are geared primarily to access for skiers. He has actively campaigned to change this situation.

David emphasized the need for attention to proper preparation for outdoor winter activities. His experiences in county search and rescue team work has led him to feel that “most people that get into trouble are in trouble before they leave town”. So, if you are planning winter trips please read page eight of the last issue (Oct./Nov. 2001) of the Obsidian Bulletin that tells what to wear, what to carry and trail etiquette.

Bep Fontana

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