What’s On! Alternative On-Mountain Activities
A winter holiday isn’t solely limited to skiing or snowboarding. There are, of course variations on them both, but we’re going to take a sneak peak at some of the alternative on-mountain activities on offer around the Alps, as well as some options available to those who prefer not to clip in.
A quirky name gives a lot away. Pronounced in a French manner, you get a play on the word ‘bungee‘ – a literal giveaway of what is in store should you want to take up this great chance.
Think Eddie the Eagle, but without the danger. Clipped into a harness, you are perfectly safe as you hurtle down the ramp and jump into the void. With options available for skiers, boarders and even those who wish to try it out on a sledge, Bun-J-Ride is the latest captivating installment now running in Tignes.
Paragliding-on-skis (Ski Gliding)
Like parachuting, but with skis attached. You’ve always wanted to be a secret agent, right? Now is your chance to ski like James Bond and jump off a cliff with a parachute (and guide) attached.
Advanced skiing is a prerequisite of this adrenaline-pumping sport, brought to bear in the international community by François Bon, an accomplished free-skier and glider. Watch his video below.
Being able to heliski is harder than one might think. Surely, you can just rock up at any resort and try it? Since 1984, heliskiing has been banned in France, and it also remains banned in Germany. Austria only has 2 spots in which you can heliski which leaves Switzerland’s 42 landing sites and multiple options in Italy.
Contrary to popular opinion and hope, skiers and boarders do not jump from the chopper; in fact, the helicopter will land at a designated, safe, landing zone where the passengers will disembark the aircraft before clipping in to enjoy the sheer powder awesomeness.
But what mountain activities are there for non-skiers?
Activities aren’t limited to skiing variations. The Alps are world-renowned for their stunning beauty and impressive views.
Popular among families and romantics alike, dog sledding is available in most resorts around the Alps. Experience a traditional method of transport as you take a seat (or even the reigns) and use dog power to fly down the valley.
While hiking may be seen more as a summer sport, snowshoeing allows non-skiers a chance to experience the charm and allure of the mountain in winter conditions. Perfect for photographers looking to trek upwards in search of the best lighting conditions, snowshoeing spreads your weight more to avoid sinking into the snow which may be upwards of 200cm deep in the height of winter.
Continuing the theme of walking, but with slightly more adventure, is glacier hiking. Requiring special equipment (crampons, helmets, ice axes etc.), this sport isn’t for the faint hearted. Traversing crevasses and avoiding serac are all part of the fun when you take up this sport.
Even more specialist equipment required! Winter climbing can be one of the most rewarding non-skiing activities of a winter holiday. With some of the biggest names in Alpine mountain climbing around (Mont Blanc and Grandes Jorasses to name but two of them), there are plenty of experienced mountaineers around who would be willing to show you the ropes, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Taking to the water, cars aren’t something you’d normally find sitting on top of a lake. However, with places like Le Lac at Tignes, some companies are opening up the opportunity to take four wheels across the frozen water. Cars, quads, buggies – you name it, it potentially could be there. Instructors will teach you the basics to make the most of your time behind the wheel: braking, counter-braking, skidding. Think Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day.
Cold. Cold. Cold.
Yes, I’m talking about plunging yourself under the ice. Silent, still and captivating. The video below from the Official Tignes page shows you just how magical being under the ice can be. But, it’s not just Tignes that offers this amazing opportunity. Check out your chosen resort to see if it is available for your winter holiday in winter 15/16.