Last year, I spent New Year’s in Bozen. I delved deep into cross-country skiing around the area. It was the most sportive start to my most sportive year. As the year came to an end, I returned to Bozen. The year literally went full circle. However, things changed. Twelve months ago, I had been alone. This time, I took a pancake with me. Pancakes happen when you base nicknames on third-date cooking experiences.
Anyways, if you can’t wait to watch the video, here it is:
Quick side note on the video: It appears to show me with a belly. I don’t have a belly. I had rolled up a pair of spare trousers and carried it under my jacket. On with the story, though.
The pancake never really had been in deep snow, so I thought: let’s give her that. Unfortunately, timing and location choice were a bit off. Last year, there had been more than half a meter of snow in Südtirol when New Year’s came. This year, even today there’s still not much snow in the more Southern parts of the region. For New Year’s, artificial snow was limited to the maximum altitudes and natural snow only appeared in some (not even all) of the most Northern valleys.
On artificial snow, I made her try toboggan (i.e. riding a wooden sledge) at the Ritten. You might have seen that name in the news: That’s the site at which a few days later a women and her kid crashed into the trees (because they intentionally ignored signage and followed the skiing slope, not the toboggan run). I’ve also been here with my mother a year ago on a hike. I was impressed how different the landscape looked when much less snow had covered it over.
She loved it. I loved it, too. Originally, we wanted to do the run two times. After five times, she suggested that we stopped in order to have enough time for the hike.
So we spent a few more days over there and then drove to Munich on New Year’s Day. With the aim to add yet another day in the snow, we diverted into the Stubai valley and stopped at the Elferlift in Neustift. There, they promise an 8km long toboggan run. This makes it one of the longest in the Alps that also has a lift to take you up. Oh yeah. More than twice the length of what we had loved on the Ritten.
It’s actually not really 8km. I’ve measured both runs with my watch. Both times, I forgot to measure the first 500-600m. I think they measure 8km because there’s an alternative finish at the bottom. At least this would explain 2km difference. Otherwise, well, it’s just more of that sad but typical exaggeration which is so common in winter sports.
Pricing-wise, you’re better off buying the day pass when you want to go more than three times. I had asked at the ticket desk what she would recommend. She said that each run lasts about 30min. She added that conditions could get very fast and icy in the afternoon. Since the pancake was on her second toboggan day, we hesitated a bit and bought a single run. Then we loved it and bought another. In retrospect, I would have taken a day ticket.
Each run lasted about 20 minutes for us. The characteristic is very interesting. There are long sections that are mostly straight, but then there are also nice and wide switchback turns. At the very end, there’s a strongly twisting final section leading on a steep and high-speed finish. This makes for a great final.
It’s not really a run to race. For that, I find it too long and not technical enough. On identical sledges, weight simply wins. Also, people hike up the same way if they don’t want to use the lift. Therefore, this is the ideal destination when you want to spend less time in the lift and more time on the sledge, when you want to enjoy moderately high, but controllable speed, and when you’re into high-alpine panorama views.
There’s actually a second run that starts from the same lift. It was closed when we were there, because there wasn’t enough snow yet. On normal days, however, you get more diversity out of paying for one lift. Alternatively, there are various other toboggan runs in the Stubai valley. The valley even offers another run of more than 7km in Mieders, some 10km away from Neustift. With a little mobility, you can turn this into a uniquely diverse toboggan day.
At the end of our day, the pancake had learned to steer around turns with the help of her hand. She had thrown a snowball at me in the hike that we added after our toboggan runs. We shared a great version of Kasspatzn in an unexpectedly awesome restaurant in Neustift itself. And I had collected some clips that I cut and mixed to make a video of the day. Watch above.
Oh, and the pancake had made a snow angel.