What to do if you can’t ski
Whilst on our annual ski trip in Mayrhofen this year, a friend of mine fractured his arm, meaning he couldn’t ski for the remaining two days we were there.
When we sat down the next day and asked him what he was going to do with his day, he said ‘not sure’.
That got me thinking:
If you can’t ski, don’t ski or won’t ski, but want to enjoy the mountains and the après scene, what alternative winter ski resort activities are there? Well, it turns out there are plenty (for those who don’t have a fractured arm)…
- Snowmobiling – when I was in Whistler a few years ago, we took a day off to do some trekking, but ended up spending the morning snowmobiling around Whistler’s back country, jumping over mounds and racing over snow covered frozen lakes. Fear not, you don’t have to go all the way to Canada to try snowmobiling – Levi in Finland and Courchevel in France are two of the European resorts that offer the activity.
- Tobogganing – there are quite a few resorts that boast of having ‘Europe’s longest toboggan run’, but to be honest, you can take your pick, as they are everywhere. Val Thorens, Bergun and Gstaad in Switzerland and the Zillertal Arena (Mayrhofen) all boast great toboggan runs.
- Ice Driving – yes, you read correctly. Ice driving. Like a skid pan at high-altitude, you’re certain to come away with a few driving skills that you’re unlikely to use on the UK road network. Still, it’s good fun at the time. You can give this a try in Val Thorens, Flaine, Tignes and Alpe d’Huez all over ice driving sessions.
- Ice Karting – the little brother of ice driving, ice karting allows you to race your friends around an ice-laden track. Just as fun, and cheaper than ice driving, you can try ice karting in Tignes, Val d’Isere, Verbier, Saalbach, Serre Chevalier and Cervinia all offer ice karting.
- Ice Diving – have you dived down under the ocean to explore tropical fish and plant life? Well, this is completely different. A friend of mine did this in Tignes a few years ago and said it was a great experience. It doesn’t matter if you’ve dived before or not, just be comfortable wearing a drysuit. You can try ice diving in a lake in Tignes, or into a glacier in Zermatt. You can read more about ice diving in the December/January issue of Ski + board magazine.
- Paragliding – for those of you that ski or snowboard regularly, the sight of a brightly-coloured parachute drifting around in the afternoon sun is a common sight in most resorts in Austria and France. You can give paragliding a try in Tignes, Mayrhofen, St. Anton, Les Deux Alpes, Serre Chevalier, Verbier, Chamonix, Courchevel and more.
- Sleep In An Igloo – in fact you can simply have a beer in an igloo if you wish. The White Lounge at the top of the Ahorn mountain in Mayrhofen pumps out relaxing tunes during the day and provides igloo seating inside, and deckchair seating outside. If you want to sleep in an igloo at 2,000m above sea level, the White Lounge provides a ‘Basic Package’ for four people, and a ‘Romantic Package’ for two.
- Dog Sledding – whilst this is mainly a Scandinavian activity, there are a few resorts in France and Austria that offer dog sledding. So if you fancy saddling up, whipping those reigns and shouting ‘giddy-up!’ to a pack of huskies, head to Alpe D’Huez, Tignes, Courchevel, Flaine, Banff, Breckenridge, Chamonix, Serre Chevalier, La Plagne, Meribel and more.
- Hot Air Ballooning – call me a romantic, but taking a hot air balloon ride over the Alps at sunrise or sunset sounds awesome. What better way to see the snow covered mountains in all their glory? You can take a hot air balloon ride in Courchevel or La Clusaz in France, or further afield in Aspen.
If you’ve done another alternative winter ski resort activity that’s not in this list, let us know in the comments below!
Simon has skied for the past 13 years, across Canada, Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the USA, and his favourite resort is Whistler. When he’s not skiing you can find him drinking craft beer and blogging over at Simon’s JamJar. Follow him on Twitter @MrHeyes.