Arno, a snowshoe guide in Samoëns
A little interview with AlpAdventures guide Arno, who works in the winter as a snow shoe guide in Samoëns:
How did this Dutchman end up in the French Alps?
Previously I lived in the urban jungle of Rotterdam. For years I dreamed of escaping the daily rat race to live in the mountains, closer to nature. In that time I started my travel organization AlpAdventures and we developed ourselves as the adventurous specialist in la Vallée du Giffre, also known as 'Dream Valley'. In the first years, guests often asked me to guide them around in our backyard, but lacking the obliged diplomes I was not allowed doing this. This is why five years ago I started training and studying to become an 'accompagnateur en montagnes'. Two years later I could call myself a french certified walking, snowshoe and mountain bike guide.
I still feel young and sporty, so I'd rather go skiing. How do you convince me to go with you on a snowshoe hike?!
Haha, me too, I am young and sporty and I also love skiing and snowboarding. But I dare to say that even on a thick powder day I'm not jealous of my friends who are riding the powder. Snowshoeing in waistdeep powder is also fantastic; it is a true adventure and an amazing feeling! There is also an advantage over skiing; it does not matter what kind of weather it is for snowshoeing. A blue sky is beautiful, but a cloudy and snowy day can be even better; you feel completely away from everything, dealing with the elements.
How can you describe that snowshoe feeling?
It is a great example of 'slow tourism' and the ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle. Even with a short halfday walk you can really get 'away from it all'. It is quiet and there is no rush to get the last skilift for example. It is just you and your snowshoe friends, exploring the winter wonderland of the backcountry. I love to take corporate business groups on snowshoe outings, proposing them a quick but valuable escape from the daily ratrace, to absorb and relax. Snowshoeing is very zen activity and goes very well with mindfulness.
What do you offer as snowshoe guide?
Besides walks of a half or a full day, I also organize a '24 hours in the mountains' snow experience. This involves a halfday hike up the mountain to arrive at our remote mountainhut for a dinner and sleep. Another great thing to do is igloo building; an amazing team-activity for business groups and families. True adventurers can even choose to spend the night in their own crafted snow cave! I also work for a colleague who has a Mongolian yurt and offers an evening-hour snowshoe trip including a fully catered dinner. If you wanna go out for even more than 24h, I offer adventurous multiple day trips like Rewild. On this trip we spent several nights in the mountains to get away from the daily comfortzone. We sleep in garded and non garded huts, we melt snow to drink water, cut wood to make fires and you learn more about snowsafety and orientation.
And what about the snowsafety trainings that you offer?
More and more people are moving off the beaten track to explore the backcountry on snowboards, (tour)skis and snowshoes. As many of us don't have an uncle or neighbour who is a mountain guide, I think it is important to make these people aware of the avalanche risk in the mountains. That is why I offer a Snow Safety Training Day. It's on snowshoes off course, 1 because I'm a snowshoe guide and 2 because it's fun en very practical to stop and chat about the things we notice around us. In the morning we talk about risk avoiding and after lunch we learn how to respond if an avalanche accident would occur. As soon as they leave (preferably with a guide) the beaten track, they know a little better how they should act in case of an emergency situation, or rather: prevent it! We are just tiny people in those big mountains; it's important to respect nature!
What do I need to bring and wear when I join you?
If we just leave for a half or fullday outing, you rather wear a ski-pant, a (not to thick)ski-jacket an in between later (wool or fleece) and some technical underwear. Most important are the boots; you need high ankle mountainboots/shoes, which are waterproof. Further that it is good to bring a snack and some water. Please also bring a hat, sunglasses and some suncream and you will be ready for the hike.
How to join you on a snowshoe outing?
You can book me as a private snowshoe guide for a half or a full day outing and I will take you out for a hike that suits you and your group best. Another option is sending us an inquiry for your ultimate mountain dream trip. This can involve some amazing snowshoe adventures, even including a night in a mountainhut or a self-built igloo...!