There are many ways to gracefully glide around on the snow, skiing or snowboarding for example. If you are keen to embrace a more down to earth form of mountain sport, then you should try the rodel, which is the German word for a Sled or Toboggan. Sliding down the mountain, whether you are racing, giggling or potentially just screaming out in childish pleasure, this is pure snowy joy. It may not be a refined Alpine winter sport but wow, in our location in Austria, at MoaAlm Mountain Retreat, we absolutely love it.
We think a rodel ride or a sledding trip completes the winter mountain holiday experience. We love that someone who has never had the chance to ski or snowboard can take part in something that allows them the joy of sliding downhill. Whether you're a speed demon or would prefer a slower descent, all options are available for you to try. The biggest deciding factor on speed is often how compact and icy the rodel track is. A toboggan or rodel track in Austria is called a RodelBahn. These are designated roads suited to sliding down. Often they are groomed, sometimes floodlit, and if you are willing to hike up prior to a slide down, they are usually free. The other speed control is your feet and how often you use them as breaks. At MoaAlm Mountain Retreat we love our snow sliding. During the winter season in the village of Kals Am Grossglockner in East Tirol, you will see families taking their rodels on the RodelBahn for family outing, a way to have fun, fresh air and embrace the natural mountain environment.
A rodel has been around for a long time, but has still maintained its traditional shape. Generally you control your rodel by shifting your weight to the left and right and using the reins to help your steer. Some sleds are designed for racing, being more streamlined with sharper edges. It has many names; rodel, sled, toboggan with which you can then go rodeling, sledding or tobogganing. Not to be confused with snow tubing, which is a whole different sliding snow sport!
In Kals during the winter there are various options to try your new favourite pastime. You can buy a foot passenger lift pass and take your rodel to the mid station on the gondola of the GG Ski Resort. From here you have an exhilarating downhill journey of 4km, often shared confused skiers who are slightly bemused to share their ski piste with a toboggan! Another option is the 2km descent from Fallwinde, which is great fun in the evening as it has floodlights and has a mountain hut at the top serving traditional alpine meals with large mugs of Austrian beer to help or not help with your steering!
Within East Tirol, one of the most popular toboggan runs is not far from Lienz, starting at the Dolomiten Hutte. This is located in the Dolomites, just a twenty minute drive from Lienz, the capital city of East Tirol and just a 40 minute drive from MoaAlm. The rodel track is around 6km and we recommend combining it with a hike up, spending time in the Dolomiten Hutte, which is perched on a rock face within the Dolomites. The Hutte also serves tasty food with lots of great local traditional options and even vegan dishes, which is rare in mountain huts. After taking in the breathtaking surrounding mountain views, it's time to rodel down. The track can be really quick if you want a speedy descent and it's perfect width to race and overtake. It also has a section that goes through forested areas and under bridges, with floodlights to guide the way. We think that this rodel track and Dolomite experience will confirm your new addiction to this fun and sometimes very competitive winter sport. You can also rodel or as The Guardian puts it 'Bogganeering' in other parts of the Alps, such as Southern Tirol, on the Italian side.
Our favourite place to rodel however is from just outside the front door of MoaAlm Mountain Retreat. Due to our love of this winter activity, we keep the 3km track as groomed as possible so we can slide from the house to the bottom of the hill. A family favourite and something that isn't restricted by age or experience. We have been known to rodel down to pick up bread, exercise the dog, meet the postman and pick up a beer delivery. We have plenty of sleds to share with our guests for everyone to try while spending a week on holiday with us. You don't even have to pull the toboggan back up the hill, we can load them up on the Landrover for a 4x4 ride back up the mountain.
Being on a rodel is truly an experience that we think has bundles of personality. Next time your are in the mountains, ditch the skis for a few hours and just give it a chance. It's something that we think brings a smile to all who are willing to embrace it, young, old and older!
If you want a winter holiday in the mountains that has the chance to explore with snowshoes, rodel, skis and the chance to take part in daily yoga....check us out
See you in the mountains...
We would love for you to share your rodel, sled or tobaggan photos with us, tag @moaalmretreat on your social media.