There are many ways to glide gracefully 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. Sliding down the mountain, whether you are racing, giggling or potentially screaming out in childish pleasure may not be a refined Alpine winter sport but wow, we love it!
We think a rodel ride or sledding trip completes your winter mountain holiday experience. 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 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 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 rodelling, 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 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. After witnessing the surrounding mountain views, it's time to rodel down. The track can be really quick if you want a speedy descent and has 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 Winter activity.
Our favourite place to rodel however is from just outside MoaAlm Mountain Retreat front door. 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 and also meet the postman. We have plenty of sleds to share with our guests for everyone to try while spending the week with us.
Being on a rodel is truly an experience, 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!