08 March 2010

Sledding in Garmisch

Consider this an ushering in of new posts. I've been away for a while, but I look forward to a more regular appearance in the months ahead. The reasons for my absence vary, but first and foremost is the fact that, until the last few weeks, little of noteworthiness has taken place. Hardly any trips were taken. Now, however, the winter semester has ended and a new season of travel has begun. That this post marks the return of what should be my frequent writings here is quite appropriate, as this same post also marks the 100th for Fire at Will.

To kick things off, we will start with a day trip taken awhile ago, one that I had wanted to write about back then and now finally will.

On January 16 (I said it was awhile ago) AK International, the international student association of the university, took a day trip to the town of Garmisch in southern Bavaria. I had first traveled to the town nearly three years ago while studying abroad in Eichstätt. At that time I had hoped of seeing the Alps clad in thick snow; however, I disappointingly experienced spring weather. The purpose of the visit this time around was to go sledding, and we would not be surprised with another stint of unseasonal weather.

From the base of the slopes next to town we rented our sleds and rode an open-air cable car to the top of the mountain. The sleds were simple: wooden and without a way to steer them. To brake, one had to brush his feet flatly against the ground. Not until the second run down the mountain did I actually learn this. On the first run I simple dug my heals into the snow, which always resulted in the frozen powder flying into my face.

In between descents on the slope, where the land became to level to sled down, we pulled our sleds along the trail, as you can see below. On the reverse side, many steep sections of the trail demanded either constant breaking, the slower choice, or surrendering to gravity and preparing for a forceful tumble into the snow at the bottom of the slope, usually the more entertaining choice.

This form of sledding, that is, where one takes the sled up the mountain in a lift or cable car as if he's going skiing, seems like a fairly popular winter activity in Germany, at least for those unable to ski. I assume that those who know how to ski wouldn't waste much time sitting on those wooden sleds. Countless other sledders, German and foreign, were having as much fun coasting down the slopes. We even had to watch out for the several teenage boys who soared by us on their fancier plastic sleds.

Our time on the mountain was almost already at its end when the group's fun was abruptly cut short. One of the students, a girl from Brazil, apparently took the tumble-into-the-snow choice for one steep descent on the trail, but the outcome wasn't too entertaining. A landing on her back brought significant pain and fear of moving. The German students organizing the excursion called for help, and soon a rescue helicopter picked up the student from the mountain and brought her to the hospital. In the end, I believe the injury wasn't so serious and the student needed to stay in the hospital for only one night. On the next morning she hopefully, at best, remembered the fun we all had had sledding before her accident occurred. If not, she at least woke up to some beautiful scenery.

1 comment:

mc said...

Yea, the blog is back....Thanks Nick for the good read! I didn't realize anyone was hurt and the stopping method is interesting. I would have gone with the heel digging myself as a sledding novice.

Give us more posts and beautiful scenery!