Yesterday, I went sledging. There was a howling gale and snow lashing down. My sister, my nephews and I were the only people out in it apart from the piste-basher drivers, and I think they thought we were pretty odd. Although on second thoughts, as we were in Zermatt, which has welcomed its share of British eccentrics over the years, perhaps they didn’t.
We were there to test out various types of sledge for an article I am working on, and to visit friends of ours who run a hotel there. After an uncertain start to the day – 80kph winds up top, no ski runs open, rain turning to snow – it turned out to be rather a success.
The tourist office had arranged for us to test the sledges at Trockener Steg, where the pisteurs had bashed us a nice smooth slope between the lift station and the (closed) Furgsattel chair, with a good run-out and even a bump at the end to stop us overshooting.
We spent an hour up there, calling it a day when we were all shivering and my camera was getting soggy.
But it was after we returned to Furi by cable-car that the fun really started.
At least 5cm of snow had settled on the grassy lower slopes, all the way down to town at 1,600m. We climbed back on board our toboggans and followed the ski run back to Zermatt, attracting baffled stares from the only other people around, groups of ski-testers taking a walk in the absence of open glacier lifts (they will have been pleased that the Klein Matterhorn and three t-bars opened today, in glorious sunshine).
I’m keeping our findings of the toboggan tests under wraps until the article is out – I’ll let you know where and when. But I will reveal that, thanks to the bonus run back to town, we identified one sledge that is truly brilliant for use back home – thanks to its amazing performance on the warm-ish snow we found, just covering an unpredictable mix of grass, stones, a few ditches and the odd manhole, which simulated British conditions perfectly.
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