Austrian Night Sledding: My Second Attempt at Death Today

| January 7, 2015

I started writing this last night while sitting in a tiny lodge partway down a mountain, drinking hot chocolate with amaretto, contemplating, for the second time that day, requesting helicopter assistance so that I would not be forced to finish something I started.

The current endeavor: night sledding (Nachtrodeln) in Austria.  We booked an outing through the military-run Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.  They bussed us there, outfitted us, and provided a little bit of guidance.

The most telling piece of advice from  the guide was, “if you need to stop, put both feet down. It will slow you down…{{really long pause}}…to a degree.”

austrian night sledding

If you want to experience the same effect without traveling to Austria, have someone drive you to the top of a mountain and toss you off of it while someone else flying in front of you sprays a fire extinguisher filled with crushed ice directly into your face for 23 minutes.

austrian night sledding

The bullet points

-It is a 13-minute ride up the gondola to arrive at the top of the sledding course, which lies on beginner and intermediate ski slopes

-Although it takes an average of 15 minutes to get down the slope, my first pass was 23 minutes of being sprayed in the face with snow, while flailing down a mountain at speeds that ranged from uncontrollable to stuck

-It’s about 19 minutes of screaming “shiiiiiiiiiiit” – Which, after my second time up the gondola, I realized people can hear from quite a distance

-The spray will freeze your hair and face

like my frozen curls

like my frozen curls

and my despondent child's frozen hair

and my despondent child’s frozen hair

and my husband's whole head

and my husband’s whole head

-If your body is like mine, it will, regardless of your steering efforts, continually head left–which would be fine, if “left” were not the edge of the mountain

-It’s scary as hell the first time you see bright red flashing lights warning you of the 90-degree turn–particularly when your sled is uncontrollably careening toward the snowbank

looking back at one such light

looking back at one such light

-What goes fast: the unmanned sled whizzing past me and flying over the side of the track.
-I lost Paul and Sequoia not even halfway down the big fucking  mountain.
-I fell off my sled once on my first pass, twice the second.

Looking down on the sledding track from the gondola

Looking down on the lit sledding track from the gondola

-Sequoia and Paul found me on my second frantic pass down the big fucking mountain
-Sequoia and Paul went another round; then Sequoia, after her third pass, met me at the lodge at the bottom of the mountain.  Two passes were enough for me. Paul continued sledding while Sequoia got an eyeful in a club atmosphere at the main lodge–strobe lights, fruity smoke machine, loud adults singing along to louder music, dancing, drinking, a disco ball…Because that’s the better alternative.

austrian night sledding
-I wiped out walking back down from the lodge to the bus

-Boarding the bus at 9:30pm, I heard young people talking about going back to the hotel and getting cleaned up before they headed out to the bars.  I’m going to the hotel to get in the bathtub and then go to bed. When did I get so old?

Oh. And when we first arrived, I got myself and my sled stuck in the turnstile.



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Category: Activities, Austria, Europe, Family Travel, Shits & Giggles, Travel, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (2)

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  1. It certainly was…comical.

  2. Jacki Reese says:

    Oh, I so wish I had been there.