Skiing dates back centuries and is the most popular alpine sport in the world. If you’re anything like me, then the first time you tried to ski, you would have fallen straight on your ass, but don’t let that deter you! Once you’ve got the hang of skiing, there’s plenty of styles and possibilities for you to try out. There’s high speed racing, slalom, long jumps and cross country to name but a few. If you want to get a head start on your skiing training, have a look out for dry ski slopes in your area which will help with your balance greatly. This is at the top of our list because everyone should give it a go at least once in their lifetime, as it’s not particularly hard and you gain a great sense of speed and power under your feet. Give it a go.
Most people find this a little bit harder then skiing as your feet are much closer together which makes your center of gravity higher and your balance worse. But that’s not to say it’s not fun; it is, in fact many people find it to be much more fun then skiing itself. Created less than 50 years ago, snowboarding has really taken off with downhill racing, slalom and big air jumping being hugely popular. When it comes to going on holiday though, there’s nothing quite like carving up some snow and racing friends down hills and mountains while trying to avoid trees and rocks; invigorating fun.
The great thing about using a helicopter to get to where you want to ski from is that the limitations of what you can and can not ski down are very different. The helicopter goes a lot higher into the mountains and drops you off at the very top, allowing you to have a much longer decent. Very few resorts offer heli-skiing, so when you find one that does, it’s likely to be in an uncrowded resort, leaving a whole mountain of fresh, powdery snow all to yourself – perfect if you’re fed up of overcrowded resorts.
Sledging / Tobogganing
There’s nothing like waking up to snow, digging out your sledge and bombing it down some hills, all in the pursuit of fun. Of course, the one time you want to use a sledge, it’s usually nowhere to be found, but trays, plastic lids and police riot shields work just as well. My favourite hill for sledging is so incredibly steep that you can’t even safely run down it, and is covered in bumps and holes, which sound dangerous, but actually make it a load more fun. Take some friends with you and race each other down, taking it in turns so that you don’t become completely exhausted from running up the hill. When you’re done, make sure you don’t have any plans for the evening as a day of this is knackering.
Man is forever finding a way for making single person machines to take you over rough terrain at speeds, and snowmobiling is the ice and snow version of that. Instead of four wheels, snowmobiles use a continuous track at the back at 2 steerable skis at the front, and were originally intended for use in the winter to take you places which larger vehicles couldn’t go, but once people realised how much fun they were to ride, it became somewhat or a tourist activity.
Snowmobiles are a great way of seeing a part of a mountain, lake or forest that you haven’t seen before, as well as drag-racing and trail runs. Recently they’ve been used in the summer as well, for use on a variety of soft surfaces, including water. Whether you’re taking it round a track, drag-racing or jumping them across enormous gaps, snowmobiles are the ultimate winter extreme motor sport.
The concept is very similar to skiing and snowboarding only, it involved both feet being bound to a single ski. Traditionally boots are bound to the ski’s from the heel to the toe and this makes them very rigid, telemark-skiing uses only the toe and ball of the foot area to be bound, effectively leaving the heel completely free. This allows much more movement and a lot more maneuverability so you can get around all that more easier, it also allows you to ski in more difficult situations as you can move in and out of areas where needed. This is really for those of you that are more advanced in skiing but this is still definitely worth trying if you enjoy skiing.
Dog Sledding has been used as a mode of transport for expeditions for hundreds of years and is a great way to take you to places you’ve never seen before and experience breathtaking panoramic views of mountain ranges and the National Parks. You’ll be expected to bring your own winter clothing and it can get very muddy and wet so make sure your gear is up to scratch. You’re encouraged to get involved with the dogs in every step of the way, so try to familiarise yourself with dogs as much as you can before the trip – Alaskan Huskies can be pretty daunting at first. Depending on where you go, it can be very cool (sometimes -35C) so wrap up very warm, or you won’t enjoy it much.
The further into Winter it gets, the more extreme the weather conditions are going to be, so if this is your first time in this sort of weather, maybe go at the beginning of winter. Sweden is good because the snow is great and you can go see Santa in Lapland at the same time and tick 2 things off your list at once.
Snow Shoe Walking
If you’ve ever tried to walk through a foot of snow, you’ll know that it’s almost impossible as all your energy is sucked out of you when you step through the snow to the ground. That’s where snow shoes come in, they spread your weight out further, allowing you to stand on top of the snow. Ski lifts will only take you to certain parts of the mountains, so when you get to the top, strap a pair of these fancy looking tennis rackets onto your feet and go exploring, experiencing views that aren’t seem by the majority of tourists. Bring a camera along and snap some amazing photos before putting your skis back on and racing down a secluded part of the mountain. Warning though, only try this if you have the necessary safety equipment and training to complete this safely – it can be very dangerous.
Think of a BMX combined with a snowboard and you’ve got snow scooting. This is the latest in a long line of ski resort fads, except this one seems to be here to stay. The basic premise of scooting is to ride a custom bike or scooter down the mountain slopes reaching some very high speeds. You’ll find that not all areas of a ski resort will allow these to be used, but that’s just as well really as you don’t want to be going too fast on them – bailing out can be pretty painful. Start on small slopes and when you think you’re brave enough, try a few small jumps and spins. The handlebar spins round 360degrees, just like on a BMX, opening up a lot of possibilites for tricks. Remember though, there’s no brakes on these scooters, so learning to stop should be job number 1!
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then you’re probably used to hiking long distances over man made trails for long periods of time, but that won’t necessarily prepare you for glacier hiking. You’re hiking over ice, in freezing cold conditions, and this is enough to deter most people, but if you stick with it you’ll see some of the most breathtaking views imaginable that you just won’t see anywhere else. It can be dangerous at times if you don’t know the route well enough, or the ice isn’t as hard as you thought, and there’s always the risk of falling into a crevasse if you’re not careful, making this a particularly dangerous hike.
This fast paced sport requires precision and speed to complete runs of narrow, twisting, dangerous iced tracks in a sled powered only by gravity. You travel at speeds of 80 mph or more, so if you want to give it a go, you have to be taken out by a professional bobsled driver who knows the track well and won’t kill you. You can take 3 passengers on a run with you and they will provide helmets for everyone, but it’s recommended that you still wear regular ski gear such as a jacket, sallopettes, gloves and goggles. You get thrown about a lot in the sled – especially with the added G forces and weight of the helmet – so really give this some careful consideration before going on a run.
The Altenberg track in Germany is considered one of the most difficult tracks in the world, so if you’re feeling like a bit of a pro, then give this ago. Meribel in France offer piloted bobsleds if you really want to experience the real deal where you’ll reach speeds in excess of 100-120km/h whilst feeling forces from 3½ – 4½ G’s in the bends. This is probably best suited for the adrenaline junkie who’s experienced this sort of rush before as it’s by no mean tame.
This post is all about snow fun for active people; it’s not about being stupid, so when taking on mountain biking in the snow, you’re going to want to put some snow tires on your bike to prevent you from sliding around everywhere and killing yourself. Even though the sport is called snow biking, the best routes are over ice as they provide the best cycling surface and make it easier to navigate hills and jumps. The great thing about snow biking isn’t just the danger and excitement, it’s the fact that even a small change in the weather can completely change your route, making it much more interesting.
Ice Skate on a Frozen Lake
To complete this one, you need to be in a very cold environment, so much so that the past weather has frozen the lake to be at least 12 inches deep with ice. You need it to be this deep for your own comfort and safety, as there’s been countless occasions where someone has foolishly skated on a thin ice lake and ended up in the freezing cold water. It would help to have your own ice skates as well, but in popular tourist locations you will find that some lakes have skate hire. Race your friends and have a mobile snowball fight while exercising all your winter eating away.
If you’ve ever drifted around a corner in your car then you’ll know what all the fuss is about; when you do it in a controlled manner, it’s amazing fun. You drive around in a specially modified rally car around an ice and snow covered track, using special tyres to help you stay on the course. Take a professional out with you to do the driving and you can just sit back and have the ride of your life, holding onto the car with everything you’ve got. Don’t worry though, the driver’s experience will keep you safe, and failing that, the roll cage will.
Go Ice Climbing
Think of rock climbing, only much colder and much harder, and you’ve got ice climbing. A great pursuit for any climber looking for a more challenging sport where they can climb frozen waterfalls, and frozen rockfaces. Even though you still use ropes and harnesses like you would when rock climbing, ice climbing is much more dangerous due to the unpredictable nature of the ice, but it is a key technique to master if you’re planning on summiting any mountains, as you’ll struggle to find any roads towards the top. There’s 2 different types of ice that you can climb; alpine ice, which is frozen rainwater and snow that you would find on a mountain top, and water ice, which is frozen liquids of water, such as a waterfall. If you’re going to try your hand at pioneering any mountains, make sure you’re familiar with alpine ice as the differences can be huge.
When it’s been snowing out, particularly in areas where it doesn’t snow much, if you’re on the street, you’re fair game for a snowball fight. You’re never too old to roll up a snowball and hurl one at one of your closest friends or a complete stranger. If you really want to step up your game, take your friends and spend the day building snow forts and igloos and have a cross field snowball base war. To help beat the other team, make sure you’re wearing gloves and you’ve stocked up on snow.
Build a Snowman
Everyone should have done this at least once in their lifetime, it’s fun, free and easy to do. You start off by rolling a ball in the snow until you have three different sized balls that you can stack on top of each other in size order. Take a few lumps of coal as buttons down the chest and eyes, a carrot for the nose, a scarf to keep him warm and small branches as arms. Have a competition with friends to see who can build the best one and then use them later as shields for a snowball fight. When you stack the snow up like this, it takes a lot longer to melt, which means you’re left with days more time to have snowball fights in the winter.
Build an Igloo
This is something I always tried to attempt in the rare occasion we would get snow, but unfortunately not something I ever accomplished. Traditional igloos can be made by inuit hunters in about 45 minutes from start to finish, but they live in them for months at a time; the one you make doesn’t need to be quite so serious. You’re going to want a lot of compacted snow for this and maybe a knife to hack into it a bit, but once you’ve gotten it started, it’s fairly intuitive, even if it does just end up being an all out snowball war.
This is like building a snowman, but it’s for sensible adults who can’t be seen doing such a thing. Snow sculpting is exactly what it sounds like, the real difference to sculpting with clay is that snow is plentiful and it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong, although you can’t exactly keep it if you love it. If you live in an area where there’s plenty of snow, then this is best as ideally, you want to start with a huge pile and sculpt out the parts that you don’t want; much like ice sculpting. Alternatively, you can collect lots of snow and compact it to create a harder, ice like material, which makes it easier to use. The pros can create some truly amazing work in a very short amount of time, only to see if get melted away. Take some of what they have to inspire you to create something awesome.
Make a Gigantic Snowball
Every time I’ve tried this, it’s always started out as me and my friends trying to build a snowman, and then we realise the fun that can be had with a gigantic snowball. The best way to do this is to grab two groups of friends and allow 5 minutes each to create the biggest snowball you can. When you’re finished, find a good grassy hill where there’s no cars in the way and race them down. For added fun, find a valley and race the balls down from opposite sides that they collide and see which one is still remaining.