Skiing not for you? Try tobogganing – in the Bavarian Alps they take it seriously!
For people from less northerly climes, tobogganing – or sledging – is something you did as a kid on those fleeting days where snow lay on the ground. But in places like the Bavarian Alps, where snow is a feature through the winter, tobogganing is serious business. There are apparently around 100 clubs whose 6500 or so members regularly compete with each other. And many of the slopes they careen down are not for the faint of heart…
Karma Bavaria is just a two-hour drive from Germany’s tallest mountain – Zugspitze, where you are pretty much guaranteed snow during the winter season. Besides the ski and snowboard runs, there are a number of runs specifically for sleds and toboggans. Well, technically a toboggan doesn’t have runners – the base of the toboggan slides directly across the snow, whereas a sledge generally has two blades. But these days the terms are largely interchangeable.
There are gentle slopes for beginners and younger thrill seekers of course – but things get seriously high octane on some of the steeper, longer runs. The trick with tobogganing is not only to change direction by shifting your weight from one side or the other, but to use your feet as well. You dig one heel or the other into the snow to steer – not too deep or you’re liable to end up face first in a snow drift.
The longest run of all is not on Zugspitze however. – it’s in Wallburg, a short 45 minutes drive from Karma Bavaria. A whopping 6.5km in length, the run takes you through a picturesque landscape of snow covered pines, the mountains and valleys unfolding around you as you descend. You can choose to take a €10 ride to the top of the run, or if you’re feeling game, it’s a two hour hike.
If you don’t have the gear, toboggans, sledges and helmets can be hired both at Wallburg and Zugspitze. It’s a great day out for kids and grown ups alike and you don’t have to deal with all the paraphernalia that comes with skiing and to a lesser extent snowboarding.