When a friend from Atlanta, Georgia comes to visit you and has never seen mountain snow, there’s only one thing to do – SLEDGE DOWN A MOUNTAIN!
Only two hours from Geneva, Les Diablerets makes the perfect day trip for any winter sport. They have wonderful beginner to imtermediate alpine and x country ski runs, wnter hiking, and most importantly, a 7.2km groomed sledge-only sledge run. It’s close enough that I even had time for a trip to the Ferney farmers market on the way to stock up on snacks.
We met at Cornavin at 9am, caught a train to Aigle that allowed for some initial eye-opening views of the Laveux vineyards and lake Geneva while we munched on almond croissants and apricot custard pastries. From Aigle we took the adorable bright green choo choo up the mountain through a series of immaculate Swiss villages, all with their own castles, to Les Diablerets.
The town of Les Diablerets itself is tiny, a perfect quaint swiss ski village full of gorgeous wooden chalets and no crowds. We trekked 10 minutes up the hill and bought our lift tickets to Morzet, but found out we had to hike back down to actually rent the sledges at the bottom of the hill.
The rental facility appeared to be a sled barn – the inside was stacked wall-to-wall with sledges of all sizes, from which we got to pick our desired speed – of course we chose fast. Then it was time to learn how to get the sled on the ski lift, a typical swinging chair. Luckily there is a man dedicated to just this purpose – he throws them on while you wait to be scooped up from behind. We made it on with no problems, but realized only after being yelled at halfway up the mountain that there was a protective metal bar we had neglected to pull down to keep us from falling off the front. The ride was much better after that.
Once at the top we stopped to survey the run from above on the patio of a little cafe. It looked tame enough. Time to get sledging! Dora had never used this type of swiss engineered sledge before (we took a good picture so her engineering husband can recreate it back in Atlanta), so we did a quick steering lesson (left foot down turns left, right foot down turns right) and then we were off!
The run has a beautiful snow wall built on both sides of the track, and the path was wide and clear with very few other sledgers out. There were a couple tricky turns, but otherwise smooth sailing the whole way down with no flat parts, so we were able to speed straight through and finish with a nice fast stretch at the bottom! It was so great that we did it again! We had clearly mastered the sledge, and finished the second round at double the speed of the first.
On most nights of the week it is also possible to go night sledging, completing the run in total darkness with only a headlamp on! It also includes a glass of hot wine at the beginning and fondue at the end. Reservations are required well in advance though, and unfortunately they were all booked. As a consolation prize, we opted for a glass of hot wine and a nap in the sun in one of the beach chairs spread around on the snow. It doesn’t take long in Switzerland to understand how winter can be just as enjoyable as summer.