Austria: One Exhilarating way to get down a mountain

26 Flares Twitter 4 Facebook 22 LinkedIn 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- Filament.io 26 Flares ×

by Jen

….. not including skiing or falling.

A word of caution to my children first. Do NOT copy your mother. WEAR A HELMET. Seriously, a helmet is essential.

Austrian winter mountain

The stunning scene that awaits above the clouds – Salzkammergut

Winter mountain scene austria

Another snowy scene on a walk (a sensible, beautiful walk which did not involve speed or hitting trees).

Austria is blessed with many beautiful mountains. But once you’re up you need to get back down. There are links to some summer hiking options below in Salzkammergut near Salzburg. This post is about speed. Sledging.

Sledge austria mountain

Have sledge, will travel.

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago in mid February at Hoch Imst, which is in the stunningly beautiful Tyrol, half an hour from Innsbruck. The bruises are almost gone now.

At Imst you can take a bus (there’s a free one too) or a taxi up to Hoch Imst and the foot of the cable car. Day passes are available but if you are sliding the 5 or 6km from the top of the mountain right down to Imst, you sure as hell won’t be wanting to do that twice in a day. Or ever again if your steering is like mine.

Hoch Imst chairlift

Chairlift to the mid-station.

The chairlift takes you mid-way up the mountain. It’s nice to stop for a Gluwein or an Aperol spritz or a hot chocolate before the 40 or so minute hike on foot up even higher to the Laschenhütte.  It was somewhere about here that someone commented on the quality of my borrowed sledge (you can hire one too from the base station).  “A fast one.”  Great I thought.

Skirun Hoch imst

Scary little people skirun

What is it with little Austrian people? They are only a couple of feet high and can race down a mountain on skis more expertly than most toddlers can toddle. You will see lots of 3-year-old ski experts on the way up.

At the Hütte, the food is really satisfying doughy-cheesy mountain fayre. Some dishes need to be ordered in advance – because all the ingredients need to get up there in the first place.  And there are some dishes you can choose when you arrive, like the doughy-cheesy Käse knüdeln – delicious,  and which  I fondly call in retrospect my pre-sledge-almost-last-supper.

Beer going up a mountain

How beer gets up a mountain

So now, belly full, and 1650 metres up, you need to get down. I am more grateful than I can express to the lady at the Hütte for suggesting we make it most of the way down before dark. The guy at our guest house had suggested we sledge down in the moonlight because the snow made it “light”. He was clearly mad.

Sledging down mountain

Ready for the ride down.

I set off in a flurry of snow, squealing like a kid. The snow was powdery, and although masses of the stuff slid right up my jean legs, there was a modicum of control, and I could slow down for the corners. Then it got a bit icy and just a tad scary. Then it got really icy and I wanted to cry.  This was at about the speed of a small racing car.   It was somewhere about here that I wished I had the slowest sledge in the world with rubber runners.

I made the decision to veer off the path into the soft snow to slow down – they only way to slow down frankly. I was, fortunately, going pretty slowly when I tapped the tree. Tapped was plenty enough to stop me wearing anything but jammie bottoms or leggings for a couple of weeks till the bruises went. But…. it was an adrenalin rush and a half.

Sledge run

Unfortunately not all trees are as well protected.

At the bottom there is a flashing light above a sign which says STOP (you are getting to a road). Entirely impossible if you are still on the sledge.  It might as well have said stop breathing, which I probably had done at the fast bit.  Fortunately by then I was walking cum hobbling cum sliding on bottom anyway.

And ta-da you’ve arrived right back down, almost to the centre of Imst and our little guest house, with the mad night-sledging man.

It was quite a trip.  Exhilerating, fast, scary.  Wear a helmet.

26 Flares Twitter 4 Facebook 22 LinkedIn 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- Filament.io 26 Flares ×