Right if the last lot of winter ideas didn’t pique your interest then get your mitt(en)s stuck into this lot.
A) So, you are in the mountains at a resort and don’t want to go to another location what can you do?
Loads of people head out mountain biking in the summer but how about adding that extra little twist and element of danger by doing in the snow and ice, downhill? Snow Mountain Biking has got a certain je ne sais quoi extreme ring to it doesn’t it?
I am all for a bit of downhill in the sun but unfortunately there are a couple of small modifications needed for your bike to take it out in the snow. First up you need to add some wide rims and then some fat tyres and possibly take a touch of air out to increase traction. The best place to do this is up in the US or its becoming ever more accessible in the Alps now too. If you are interested in doing it then check out Undiscovered Alps who can sort everything out for you in Orcieres. This guys will provide you with a bike so you can keep yours nice and warm and wrapped up at home. If you want to try it home after one of the current cold snaps then remember that an ice base with a soft, thin layer of snow on top. Easy!
B) Something else with a strong non ski essence that has been adapted is Snow Kiting.
Imagine kite surfing but on snow and in the mountains. Pretty cool if you ask me. A few months back I wrote an article about the TRAD Film Competition. One of the Athletes in that, Laurent Niol, has a penchant for Snow kiting and it looks wicked, although a touch tricky! Rather than the open spaces of the sea, you are a finite amount of space namely becasue of the scenery surrounding you (i.e mountains!).
You can be dragged along on either skis or boards but either way you are going to get to hit some serious speeds going downhill, or copy those kitesurfers and get some massive lift off on otherwise dull flat plateaus.
Once again Scandanavia is a top place to do it, more specifically Hardangervidda plateau in Norway with Fluid Feeling or in Switzerland the Swiss Snowkiting School can help you out too. Lastly if you want a specific snow kiting holiday then Snow Kiter can sort out a trip for you to the Langjokul Glacier in Iceland.
C) Any “alternative activity list” wouldn’t be complete with that classic activity of being dragged around by a few dogs would it now? Dog Sledding is that archetypal winter activity, especially if you are trying to get to the South Pole! Seriously though having been sledding it is great fun and very exhilarating, although I couldn’t help bit feel a little guilty about the effort the dogs were putting in! It is pretty scary grabbing hold of the reins for the first time but needless to say you get a fair amount of guidance as to how to look after and control the dogs.
However once mastered the feeling is exhilarating. the sense of raw power that you get from being pulled by the dogs is something unique and they really do fly along. Due to the accessibility options and the distances you cover these trips allow you to see parts of the the snowy wilderness you would never normally get the chance to experience. You can do dog sledding in pretty much every snow laced country and trips last from between 4 to 16 days. The typical countries tough are Finland, Sweden or several other Scandinavian options.
If you want to stay closer to home then check out the Cairngorm Sled dog Centre or other UK options
D) Last up then is something that is high up on my to do list. What with the winter Olympics on the way there is always one event that makes me sit up and say, ooh wouldn’t it be great to have a go at that. The main problem though is there aren’t that many places to do it. Not many resorts have their very own Bobsleigh run on the doorstep!
With speeds of upto 70mph, running at almost vertical angles left and right you could be excused the fear getting top you. however if you are still tempted then Innsbruck in Austria is probably the place to go. You can have go at being part of a 2 or 4 man team or, if you are really lost for things to do, take the 5 day course and learn to be a driver. For more information on how the UK are doing as well as competition results and of course the winter Olympics check out the official UK Bobsleigh team site.. There is always the added incentive that they are always on the hunt for fresh blood…I mean talent so you never know!!
I hope you enjoy these different options and of course stay safe.
Until next time