Used for walking on the snow, “ciaspe” or “ciaspole” (snowshoes) are a winter accessory with a long history that are extremely popular today because they allow you to walk easily across the snow. Suitable both for simple walks and for competitive activity, snowshoes can be used by people of all ages, offering the opportunity to make your way through fairy-tale landscapes, respecting the silence of the sunsets and the magic of sunrise, or even during night-time walks in the light of the full moon, listening out for the breath of the Dolomite forests.
For those who love genuine, close contact with nature, walking on snowshoes offers a complete, experiential approach, well away from the crowds.
However, this sport also requires a close eye on safety, and it is advisable to consult an authorised Alpine Guide or study the routes, the difficulty and the weather forecast carefully, avoiding particularly difficult stretches or areas where there is a risk of avalanches and landslides.
The assistance of an expert guide will give you the chance to enjoy this experience safely, weighing up the routes based on your level of training, and above all savouring a fabulous outing in the moonlight, or a meal in an alpine hut or refuge.
A little history…
The story of snowshoes goes back a very long way. Initially, the “ciaspe” were made of a ring of wood, bound inside of which were strips of leather or cord, strung rather like a tennis racket.
The earliest evidence we have of their existence dates right back to prehistoric times, with cave drawings depicting hunters able to “float” across the snow thanks to large appendages on their feet.
The ancient Romans are also said to have used them during their military campaigns, to cross snow-covered mountain passes, and a number of sources – taken from ancient Greek writings by Xenophon – mention the use of similar instruments to the ciaspole on the part of the Greeks, who used them when crossing the snow-covered mountains of Armenia in the 4th century BC.
The British armed forces are believed to have used them during the American War of Independence, in the province of Quebec, between 1775 and 1781.
At the end of the 19th century, they were used by the troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the Alta Pusteria/Hochpustertal area. This system of moving across the snow was also adopted from WWI by the alpine troops of the various European countries. In winter 1916, six metres of snow fell on the Alps, which made the use of showshoes essential for walking through the narrow trenches and did not take up much space when hung from the soldiers’ backpacks.
Snowshoes also appeared in “White Fang”, the legendary adventure novel by Jack London, in which the US writer tells of the adventures of the Klondike gold rush and the men who moved across the snow with ciaspole on their feet.
Take a look to the appointments of the winter season with Ciaspolate outings in the Val del Biois accompanied by our Alpine Guides.
For info please contact:
PROMOFALCADE DOLOMITI Tourist Consortium office: :
Enjoy your winter vacations on the snow and stay tuned on our experience page for discovering all the activities BEYOND SKI !
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Snowshoes, an ancient aid used by the mountain folk throughout history to cross the snow-covered woodlands and slopes of the Biois Valley, accompanied by the cool breeze of the Dolomites and the sounds of nature. Discover our itineraries, suitable for everyone.