Bikes, Kites and Horses: Eight Fun Alternatives to Skiing

Susan Greenwood, The Guardian, December 2, 2014

Ski joering

Where to do it: Les Arcs, France
If you like the thought of getting on skis but baulk at the amount of effort required, ski joering is for you. Originating in Scandinavia as a means of getting around, you are harnessed behind a horse or dog and pulled along, controlling them with your voice and a rig with reins. It’s a good one for getting away from crowded pistes and there’s something quite soulful about enjoying the winter environment in the company of animals. Beginners can enjoy a gentle hack while the more experienced can go on a big gallop through powder.

• €50 for each outing including all equipment – and horse! ranchelcolorado.free.fr

Airboard

Where to do it: Verbier, Switzerland

The airboard is essentially an inflatable sledge with small handles on either side that, presumably, you grip on to with dear life as you hurtle down the piste on your stomach. People have been clocked at 100km/h – and a face full of snow pretty much comes as standard, seeing as you’re about five inches above the ground. Grooves in the base allow for quick turns and braking using your body weight and feet. You may feel like a cannonball out of control but the good news is, you’ve always got a soft(ish) cushion to land on if anything goes wrong.
Two-hour initiation and ride evening, including mountain aperitif, €30, swiss-mountain-spirit.com

Yooner

Where to do it: Avoriaz, France

 

Yooner

Photograph: PR

Who said you had get down the piste with technique and style? Not the makers of the yooner, that’s for sure. A seat mounted on a small ski, it’s a cross between skiing and tobogganing, which – if you can be bothered – you use to carve your way from top to bottom using the handle to brake and the inbuilt shock absorbers to protect your spine. Alternatively you can laugh hysterically while pretending you’re not actually doing this because, let’s face it, it’s not cool.
Every Thursday from 5.30pm, it’s a 30-minute descent with a guide and costs €20, ecoledeglisse.com

Snake gliss

Where to do it: Valloire, France

Being on a toboggan connected to 15 other people on toboggans did not sound like fun (who thinks these things up?). You weave your way down the mountain like some giant snowy human serpent, negotiating corners, bumps and obstacles with way far less grace than the real thing. But actually, if you get up a bit of speed, it is (cough) entertaining, and the perfect après pastime for corporate groups and families working together as one rosy-cheeked team. Ridiculously hilarious or hilariously ridiculous? You decide.
Two-hour ride covering more than 4km, €22pp, snakeglissvalloire.com

Snowbiking

Where to do it: Neukirchen, Austria

In the early days of mountain biking it was deemed a good idea to race on snow for winter-season giggles. Then some genius replaced the wheels with short skis and – voila! – the snowbike was born. There are different variations: some have pedals to rest your feet on, while others have you wearing short skis, but none come with brakes – other than your feet. For hooning it around the mountain, getting powder in your face and replicating the sensation of freeride mountain biking, snowbikes are brilliant and probably the only activity in this list with any real dignity.
One-hour lesson, plus an extra two hours of snowbike rental, from €85, or rent a bike for the day from €33, skischule-neukirchen.at

Snowkiting

Where to do it: Haugastol, Norway

Not exactly a practical – or safe – way of getting down a piste, as you’d get into all manner of mischief negotiating cable cars wires, snowkiting is for wide, open spaces or the backcountry – once you’ve got the skills. It involves harnessing the wind via a kite while still on your skis or snowboard and using the extra power to travel faster, further or up into the air. Haugostol is a snowkiting hotspot (coolspot!) with the Hardangavidda mountain plateau offering a huge area and stable wind conditions.
EKVIP runs a two-day course from 2,399 Norwegian krone (around £220), including instructions and all kite kit but not ski rental. Accommodation arranged through Haugastol Tourist Centre from £32pp pn

Skki Trikke

Where to do it: La Plagne, France

A bit like a ski bike but with both your feet on individual short skis – one of them under the handle bars at the front so you can really get your carve on. In that respect it’s a closer feeling to skiing or snowboarding than the snow bike, yooner or – god forbid – the airboard. And it’s quite stable and pretty simple to learn so great for kids and people who aren’t feeling very brave.
In La Plagne, you can try it out free every Wednesday afternoon from 5pm to 7pm

Snowscoot

Where to do it: Corbieres, Switzerland

 

Snowscoot at Mount Hutt New Zealand

Photograph: Chris McLennan /Alamy

My gut is screaming no! no! no! but in the interests of impartial journalism I give you the snowscoot. It’s a scooter on snow (read: mono board with handles – and that’s being kind) and that’s all there is to say. If you’re an adult that commutes on a scooter you’ll love it. Every single kid that terrorises non-scootering commuters as they bomb to school on them will love it, too. Everyone else will scratch their heads and wonder why the hell you aren’t at least on a skki trikke.
Day rental from CHF45 (around £30), aventure-gruyere.ch

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk

 

This article was written by Susan Greenwood from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.