Andrew at WTA blog wonders if all these new converts to snowshoeing realize all the dangers inherent in winter backcountry fun, such as:
Take those pesky and fatal avalanches, for instance. Popular summer hiking trails such as McClellan Butte, Granite Mountain, or Snow Lake become deadly avalanche hotspots in winter, and should never be considered as snowshoe destinations. Nothing like a crushing avalanche to ruin a seemingly pleasant snowshoe stroll. Don’t assume an easy summer day hike will make a good snowshoe trip. Consult a guidebook to find the best low-risk snowshoe routes. And remember that there are other snow risks beside avalanches–getting stuck in a tree well (the hollow in snow at the base of a tree) is a surprisingly common cause of fatalities in winter recreation. Learn all you can about avalanche safety and equipment before you head out snowshoeing.
Skiing seems like a much more rational alternative most of the time — sliding on snow being so much more efficient than tromping through it — but it requires quite a bit more cash and skill. (Let’s see if WildeBeat Steve takes the bait and expands on this point).