When you’ve got just one week in the resort with some of the best skiing in the world you might not think about alternative activities. You might only have one ski-vacation planned for the whole year so it's understandable to make the most out of it. But are you sure you are not missing out on anything by staying on the slopes? We decided to give snowshoes a chance. And it was definitely worthwhile!
Equipment is everything
In order to be able to hike in the mountains during winter-time, you can either randonnee or walk with snowshoes (or stayan the paved roads of course). In the village of Champoluc you can rent snowshoes at a few of the various ski-rentals. We choose one right next to the ski-lift station and got excellent help and great quality equipment.
Snowshoes look and feel a bit like having tennisrackets attached to your feet, but once you’ve tried walking with them on snow you immediately understand its charm. Compared to trying to hike on snow with normal boots it is almost like having a supernatural power, or know the magic for how to become weightless.
Other than the snowshoes it is comfortable to have poles, good boots (to attach the snowshoes on), and appropriate hiking clothes.
The snowshoes are easy to use and work a little as bindings on tour-skis. You have your heel detached while walking on slopes and can choose to attach your back-end boot when needed.
Exciting and varied environment
After a coffee at one of the only two bars in the last village in the Ayas Valley: St. Jaques (1686m), we were ready to hit our trek. There are special snowshoe-trails but we decided to follow a regular hiking-trail, from the church in the middle of the village all the way to the Blue Lake.
The trail was a winding upslope until we reached Pian di Verra where a fairly large plateau gave us some time to walk horizontal for a while and rest a bit before the last uphill. There was plenty of snow but since the past weeks had been warm the snow sometimes dropped a bit under our feet. On the steepest parts it was crucial to walk with small steps in order to distribute our weight evenly.
Lago Blu - 2211 metres
After a couple of hours we reached our goal – the blue lake right under the 3000 metre-mountain ridges and impressive glaciers. This time of year the lake was covered in ice, but its bright blue color shined through the ice in the corners.
It was just us, the mountains and a probably some animals like well camouflaged mountain-goats or marmots who surely sat and looked down at us from the cliffs above.
Resting next to the glacial lake, eating our sandwiches and talking about our great achievement gave us strength to practically race back down to the valley. It took a third of the time to get down as it took us to get up. In less than an hour we were back among other humans. We were satisfied and completely sure that a snowshoe-hike was worth ‘missing’ one day on the slopes for!