Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps
Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Powder Playgrounds: Top Sledding Destinations in Switzerland
With its towering snow-capped peaks and picturesque alpine villages, Switzerland is a winter wonderland tailor-made for adrenaline-pumping sledding adventures. From family-friendly bunny hills to extreme avalanche runs, the Swiss Alps offer exhilarating sledding for thrill seekers of all levels. Grab your sled and get ready to hit these top destinations for an unforgettable downhill ride.
The car-free resort town of Davos is a magnet for sledding enthusiasts, boasting over 8 miles of dedicated sledding tracks. Test your skills on the 5-mile Parsenn Derby Run, winding through pine forests and barreling down the mountain at speeds over 40 mph. The Sunniberg Speed Run is another heart-pounding Davos highlight, plunging 1,675 feet in just 2.5 miles. Families flock to Rinerhorn in Davos for milder sledding slopes and plenty of cozy mountain restaurants to refuel après-sled.
In the Bernese Oberland region, sled down 7 miles of pristine wilderness from the Schilthorn summit. Adrenaline junkies can reach speeds over 40 mph on the panoramic Inferno Run, Switzerland's longest downhill sled track. For more family-friendly sledding, Wispile is a charming village with gentle slopes overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley's dramatic cliffs and waterfalls.
The Lucerne-Lake Lucerne Region also offers EPIC sledding, from the 7.5-mile toboggan run down Mount Rigi to the twists and turns of the Engelberg-Titlis mountain. Here you'll also find family-friendly runs like the Klewenalp-Stockhütte sledding hill, with its own conveyor belt to pull you and your sled back up the slope.
In Graubünden's Arosa-Lenzerheide, slalom down miles of prepared runs and wooded trails. Adrenaline seekers take on the infamous 5-mile Heidi Derby between Arosa and Lenzerheide while kids perfect their sled skills on Arosa's family hills. Grab an old-fashioned wooden sled for that true vintage experience.
What else is in this post?
- Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Powder Playgrounds: Top Sledding Destinations in Switzerland
- Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Hold on Tight! Safety Tips for Extreme Sledding
- Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Sledding 101: Picking the Right Gear for Alpine Adventures
- Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - From Snow Plows to Speed Demons: Sled Types and Techniques
- Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Fuel Your Descent: Après-Sled Dining in the Alps
Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Hold on Tight! Safety Tips for Extreme Sledding
When it comes to extreme sledding, speed and thrills go hand-in-hand with safety. While experienced sledders live for the adrenaline rush of steep slopes and dizzying speeds, taking the proper precautions is crucial. After all, sledding accidents and injuries do happen, especially when sledding becomes extreme. From concussions to broken bones, injuries can quickly turn your winter adventure into a nightmare.
The first key to safe sledding is wearing a helmet, which protects your noggin when you inevitably wipe out. Look for safety-certified helmets designed specifically for sledding and skiing - forget bike helmets, which offer less coverage. Goggles or sunglasses are also must-haves on sun-drenched slopes. Thick snow gear like ski pants, warm jackets, gloves and snow boots provides protection when you bail. Leave the jeans and hoodies at home!
When riding sleds or toboggans, make sure you have handles or grips for holding on tight during bumpy descents. Strapping into sleds or toboggans with a seatbelt harness adds critical safety, keeping you contained if you hit a tree or rocks hidden under the snow. For tubing, pick tubes with handles to grip not only for safety but for steering ability too. Don’t just cling to the side with your bare hands unless you want to look like Jack from Titanic by the end of your run.
Scoping out sledding hills beforehand also prevents injuries. Stick to designated sled hills that are free of obstacles like trees, rocks and fence posts. Watch out for bumps, jumps and drop-offs that could send you flying. And pick hills with flat, open run-off areas at the bottom - hills ending abruptly in trees or creeks spell disaster.
When sharing the hill, stay alert for other sledders bombing down from all sides. Call out "on your left" when passing to avoid collisions that could seriously injure both parties. Leave plenty of space between sleds at the top before zooming down. And get out of the way quickly at the bottom once your run ends so you don't get taken out by the next wave of adrenaline junkies.
Finally, know your limits. Just like skiing or snowboarding, start with beginner hills to hone your sledding skills before hitting advanced runs. Attempting steep slopes or high speeds as a newbie sledder is just asking for trouble. Build up your confidence and abilities gradually for maximum safety and fun. And make sure to take breaks to rest, replenish and prevent sledding fatigue which impairs your judgment and reflexes.
Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Sledding 101: Picking the Right Gear for Alpine Adventures
Sledding gear matters more than you think. The proper equipment keeps you safe and comfortable while enhancing performance, turning any old bunny hill into an Olympic bobsled run. Meanwhile, flimsy, cheapo gear makes for a miserable time spent wiping out, freezing and trudging back up the hill after every failed run. Investing in quality sledding equipment tailored to your alpine adventures transforms winter wipeouts into endless winter wonderland fun.
The sled itself tops the must-have list. From saucers to tubes, toboggans to snow racers, options abound. Hard plastic toboggans and steerable sleds with metal runners excel on prepared snow tracks, reaching Formula 1 speeds. Inflatable tubes float over bumps in supreme comfort and work well for small kids. Classic wooden sleds evoke old-school nostalgia. Sturdy plastic saucers or snow discs provide quick steering and stability for all skill levels.
Handheld snow tubes offer a thrill ride with their donut-like shape that sends you careening downhill. No matter what sled you pick, look for sturdy construction, smooth glide surfaces, and options to steer, slow down or stop. Test drive sleds first to find your perfect downhill ride.
Keep toasty in insulated, waterproof snow gear designed for hours outdoors in freezing temps. Synthetic or wool base layers wick away sweat while providing warmth. Look for snow pants and jackets with 10,000mm or higher waterproof ratings and fully taped seams to block wind and snow. Snow bibs keep you drier by covering more area. Target insulated gear or layer with a down or synthetic puffer jacket.
When buying snow jackets and pants, allow room for layers underneath - no one likes sausage casing limbs. But avoid an overly baggy fit which exposes you to cold air. For hands, snowboarder-style gloves with wrist guards beat basic knit gloves. And don't forget goggles or sunglasses and wool socks. A ski helmet or hard hat protects your head from collisions.
The right winter boots balance warmth, waterproofing and traction. Classic Sorel or Kamik duck boots with thick insulation and waterproof rubber bottoms excel for most sledders. Or opt for insulated and waterproof snowboard/ski boots for performance sledding or places with very deep snow. Look for boots with aggressive tread for grip climbing up hills.
Carry essentials in a hydration backpack or winter sledding bag. Pack an extra layer, snacks, phone, purse/wallet, hand/toe warmers, facemasks, dry gloves/socks, sunscreen, lip balm, and a thermos of hot cocoa. Some sleds feature storage pouches or clip-on bags too.
Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - From Snow Plows to Speed Demons: Sled Types and Techniques
Sledding may seem simple - just point downhill and enjoy the ride. But not all sleds or sledding techniques are created equal. The sled you ride and how you ride it makes all the difference between surviving a 200-foot bunny slope or blasting down a double-black-diamond avalanche run at 60-mph. Mastering sled-specific techniques gives you the skills to handle any alpine terrain.
Steerage sleds with metal runners put you in the driver's seat, allowing advanced directional control for slalom courses or tree-lined trails. Keep your center of gravity forward by leaning your torso ahead of your feet. Use subtle leg movements to initiate turns and tilt your sled’s nose left and right. Carefully shift your body weight to carve wide swooping turns. Stopping takes finesse too – drag your hands sideways in the snow to slow momentum.
Inflatable tubes keep the fun mellow and family-friendly. With no directional control, they purely rely on shifting body weight for steering. Lean back to pick up speed, forward to brake. Moving sideways within the tube turns its direction ever so slightly. For sharp corrections, briefly pop out a leg or arm to drag in the snow. Close your legs together and lift arms overhead to maximize acceleration.
Snow racers mimic racecar driving with their low profile and steering mechanisms. Turning techniques resemble skiing - initiate with subtle weight shifts using your hips, knees and ankles. Gently press the toes or heels of one foot forward to point the sled. For hairpin turns, rapidly alternate pressing each foot forward. Braking requires foot or hand drag techniques.
Pro-level steerable sleds demand aggressive steering and speed control. Carve swooping GS-style turns by aggressively rolling your knees and ankles to tilt the sled. Increase edge angles for quicker turns. Use your entire leg to deeply bend the sled into each arc. Ski poles can aid steering too. Drag hands in unison to rapidly shave off speed.
Even humble toboggans and discs become thrill rides in the hands of advanced sledders. Lie prone, shift weight forward over the front lip and raise your head slightly for max acceleration. Subtly move your torso side-to-side to steer tight turns. Plant hands in the snow like an ice luge for mega-fast but daring descents. Quickly swing your upper body sideways to whip the sled around hairpin bends.
Inflatable snow tubes seem tame, but experienced riders know how to hit that sweet spot of speed. Lie back with your head slightly propped on the rear tube lip. Arch your back, point your toes and keep legs locked together to eliminate drag. Extend arms straight overhead, Superman-style. Subtly shift your torso side-to-side to steer.
Ride the Avalanche: Extreme Sledding Adventures in the Majestic Swiss Alps - Fuel Your Descent: Après-Sled Dining in the Alps
After flying down snowy alpine slopes at breakneck speeds, sledding enthusiasts have earned some serious refueling and relaxing. Après-sled takes on a life of its own in the Swiss Alps, where roaring fireplaces, hearty cuisine and lively crowds transform simple mountain restaurants into essential après-ski entertainment hubs. Because let's be honest - half the fun of sledding lies in the food, drinks and socializing that follows an exhilarating day of downhill action.
Deciding where to spend your après-sled is an adventure in itself across the Alpine slopes of Switzerland. Upscale dining rooms like Walliserkanne offer regional wine tasting menus alongside stunning views. Cozier options like the Schatzalp restaurant in Davos allow lingering over Swiss fondue as the sun dips behind towering peaks. For authentic alpine ambiance, you can't beat the rustic timbered taverns of Graubunden's tiny ski hamlets. Places like Berghaus Ela lure sledders with local beer on tap, classic 16th century architecture, and live music that runs into the wee hours.
Nothing revives weather-beaten sledders like hot alcoholic punch. Signature Swiss versions like Feuerzangenbowle incorporate flaming rum for extra oomph. Vin chaud gives offMulled wine vibes with spices and citrus blended into hot red wine. Non-drinkers can warm up with tea punched-up by Swiss liqueurs like cherry kirschwasser. Heartier Swiss schnapps made from apples, pears or plums also deliver quick apres-sled buzzes.
Of course slope-side dining in Switzerland goes far beyond drinks. Restoring your energy reserves demands hearty Swiss fare like melty cheese fondue pots, tender veal in creamy mushroom sauce, or juicy bratwursts and knockwurst sausages. Don't overlook Swiss wine and beer either to perfectly complement the rich cuisine. Save room for Switzerland's legendary desserts too. Warm apple flambe with vanilla ice cream and crisp French-style beignets doused in powdered sugar make perfect endings.
For family-oriented après-sled, Switzerland dazzles with entertainment options beyond food and drinks that delight kids of all ages. Kids can blow off steam in massive indoor playgrounds and game rooms after exhausting days outdoors. Meanwhile parents decompress by the fireplace over a glass of wine. Older kids love the fast-paced action of snooker tables for friendly competitions. Live music from alpenhorns, accordions, yodelers or folk bands ramps up the apres-sled energy. And nothing beats mingling with newfound friends from around the world that you just shared the slopes with.