Rodel, Sled or Tobogan?

I thought sledding was for kids, little kids, at Christmas, down a small hill maybe 50 meters or so, in soft snow so that when they inevitably fell they didn’t get hurt. Not so. Sledding, otherwise know in Germany as Rodeling or in some places as Toboganing can be adrenaling inducing stuff, especially at Wallberg, where rather than a small hill you head down 6km of snow-covered, hairpins included, access road.

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Pinacle of Wallberg looking North-North-West to Tegernsee

Wallberg bahn Web-cam

To be clear, I’m not talking about ‘Cool Runnings’ style bob-sledding, luge or skeleton, where you travel down a semi-enclosed and embanked track. I’m talking about a basic wooden sled with two runners approximately 1m in length, maybe with some kind of woven seating or a cushion if you are lucky, and some rope between the two runners at the front to hold onto. Your feet serve as both brakes and steering assistance. Theoretically you should steer by transitioning the weight in your bum. Good luck with that.

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Pinacle of Wallberg looking South-South-East into the Austrian Alps

The end result is a hell of a lot of fun, a trip or two over the mountain side, a sore backside, a few near misses, some harmless bumps and quite a bit of fun. So much fun, we went back for more a few days later! Check out the 1 min clip below for some of the thrills and spills!

Nozawa Onsen snowboarding

It is a year since I first went snowboarding with Arnault at Nozawa Onsen. During January and February 2013 we made numerous trips into the deep fluffy snow on the north west slopes of the Torogi pass in Nagano Prefecture. Arnault, a university friend of Nicks’ from Singapore has been a regular at Nozawa onsen for the past 7 years and returns year on year for the ease of access from Tokyo, deep powder, often unused off-piste trails, and local, non-touristy feel that the place has. He stays at the same family Ryonkan each year, and they view him as a favoured son. Ina ddition, the town is historic, with 17 public onsens scattered throughout the tiny town, it is one of few places  where these public onsens are still maintained, free of charge.

We had blue skies for 2 of the three visits, which is apparently pretty rare, and good snow. On one occasion, we had almost too much snow! Check out the gallery and two video clips I have put together below. Unfortunately, both times I went off-piste with Arnault and Delphine, I crashed too many times to make sure the camera was operating appropriately! One of those occasions I managed to get a little air just prior to hitting a tree at pretty decent speed, so a good thing it is not on camera!

Click to see the pictures in large format.