Story by Ronnie Juhans
Featured image by FS Stock / Shutterstock.com
As Old Man Winter will be visiting us soon, the skiers and snowboarders are anxiously awaiting the opening of resorts all over Europe to enjoy the winter wonderland. For those of you preferring a more slow-paced approach to outdoor winter fun, we have just the right option for you: Grindelwald Schlittelbahn, or Grindelwald sled run.
Sledding is normally associated with taking the kids on a small hill, riding down for a very short time and having to schlep back up over and over again, which can be a bit exhausting. One of my favorite sled adventures is only a few hours away from the Kaiserslautern Military Community area.
The quaint village of Grindelwald, Switzerland, boasts the world’s longest sled run which is 12.5 km long and known as the Big Pintenfritz. I first took this sled run a few years ago on a weekend ski/snowboard adventure and was hooked within a few minutes.
The trail is not just open terrain but is carved out and groomed for sleds. There are steep descents, banking turns, wide and narrow passages, flat areas where you have to kick the sled forward, and a variety of other surprises along the way that will keep your adrenaline in high gear. You have the ability to slow down with your feet or use a sled with breaks to stay in your comfort zone, regulating your sled to your most comfortable speed.
This is a great activity for families with kids, groups, and anyone who wants to get out and enjoy the snow this winter from a different perspective.
Besides the Big Pintenfritz sled run, there are three other sled runs which start from various points on the mountain. Check out www.grindelwaldbus.ch/en/sledging which shows a large map of the different sled runs and other information, well worth reading before you plan your trip.
Be sure to plan in some time to visit the village of Grindelwald. Although it is a small village, there are many restaurants with traditional Swiss dishes like rosti and fondue, which you will truly enjoy at the end of your active day. Shop for typical souvenirs like Swiss Army Knives, cow bells, watches, Swiss chocolate, cheese, and Black Forest cake in small shops while enjoying the views of the awe-inspiring mountain ranges of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Moench all around you.
Grindelwald also has a vast variety of accommodations to suit the needs of travelers on a tight budget, those who want to splurge a bit, and everything in between. From luxury hotels with spas to chalets, apartments, and hostels — you will find the right place to stay. One piece of advice: Be sure you book well in advance.
Things to consider:
- Check snow and weather conditions first thing in the morning. High winds, fog, and snow can take you by surprise within minutes.
- Check for updates on transportation fares, rental fees as well as closures due to weather.
What to wear: Warm clothing, a hat, helmet, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots, and goggles.
What to bring: First aid kit, sunscreen, water, snacks, a change of socks, gloves, hat, cell phone, and euro cash. Plastic is not accepted everywhere.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do make sure that everyone knows how to steer, slow down and stop the sled.
- Do be aware of sleds behind, passing or in front of you. Most injuries occur during crashes with other riders.
- Don’t wear a scarf or any loose clothing or jewelry. They can get tangled up on the sled especially during a wipeout.
For more information on accommodation, equipment rental, bus schedules, and regional updates:
www.grindelwaldbus.ch (sledge rental)
https://86fss.com/outdoor-rec (equipment rental)