21 February 2007

so, do you like bruises?

While in Italy, I discovered the BEST way to get them, and it also happens to be a ton of fun. Here’s how to do it: Start in Ortisei, and head to the hills where a vintage chairlift from the 50’s creaks its way up a mountainside. A venerable gentleman there will rent you a one-person wooden toboggan with smooth metal runners. Climb aboard this single-chair lift after the thick plaid woolen blanket has been tucked on the seat, following your sled that’s been put on the previous chair.

Admire the view from the lift as it chugs the way up the hill. Meditate in the solitary silence as you progress majestically up the hill in your little individual seat and the mountains reveal themselves through the pines. Note the odd items traveling on the chairs going down the hill- stacks of blankets returning to the bottom, crates of bottles, bunches of trekking poles, sleds. At the top of the hill, clamber out and grab your sled. If desired, have a beer at the top and feast on the incredible view, the Alpensun, the fresh flavors of pine and moss. When you’re ready, head to the top of the groomed sledding track and settle into the sled.

Now, for maximum bruise potential, swollen ankles, and snow-up-the-trousers, this must be done with a largeish group, and everyone has to start down the hill at once, jockeying for positions. It’s even better if one person goes on a little ahead to the first turn to take action shots of the inevitable pileups and tip-overs.

This activity probably sounds totally idiotic but it was so hilariously fun that on the first trip when I hit a snowbank hard enough to shoot off the sled and end up on the far side, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t answer when asked if all my limbs were still in place. It’s a ridiculously dangerous idea to attempt to pull off hairpin downhill turns in a barely steerable sled with no safety features, but zipping down the straight parts with the mountains and sparkly sky above is glorious. With a total groomed sled-run of 4 miles, It’s the on-steroids version of sledding as a kid, without the work of hauling the sled back up the hill. We spent an entire day on the hillside.

I did this a week ago and am still bearing the wounds of having my ankle driven over, running into someone else so hard they ended up on the opposite side of snowbank, and various other spills that have resulted in bruises so florid that one looks like I’ve gotten a large tattoo of a purple cabbage on a certain body part. My right shin was so ravaged by the activity that I was even unable to downhill ski the last two days of the trip. In spite of the war wounds that have caused much amusement to those who were on the trip and those who only have seen the aftermath, I definitely would do it again!


dtw said...

Maybe it sounds totally idiotic but I can also say that it's totally awesome.

Part of the fun with is actually figuring out your equipment. I remember doing something similar with a huge bunch of friends a while ago in a just slightly less fabulous setting.

Cardboard beverage sixpacks or 12-packs provide endless opportunities for this. For no apparent reason nearly everybody was wearing one of these for replace helmets. The craftier people, myself included, were getting silly making all sorts of protective gear from beer logo chestplates to shin guards. We were racing with everything from huge plastic bags to sliders to plastic sleds to toboggans.

Great times.

cK said...

Four miles!? I'm totally jealous. And since my ankles wouldn't be buckled into something, I'd dig it.

Nice experience, E. Thanks for sharing it.

dtw said...

And I forgot to mention the best sled type!

ECS said...

dtw: we were actually being sensible boys and girls and wearing helmets but this sledding ain't no joke when it's with seven beer-enhanced Icelanders :) As for your alterna-sleds, there was an enormous silver mixing bowl at my high school that was always going missing from the kitchen due to its dangerously sled-like construction. Sleds come in all forms!

ck: the sledding is actually far more catastrophic than the skiing, probably for just that reason. More spare parts to fling eveywhere.. I'm still moaning and whining to my friends here about my bruises and crippled ankle.

Professor Batty said...

...no bruise photos? Darn! Oh, I forgot you filled up your free Flickr account... of course you could just use the Blogger upload ;-)

tsduff said...

You my dear, have the pure heart of an adventurer! I'm planning a trip to Italy in the spring, but perhaps the snow will be gone by then. I can't tell you how much fun I had reading your post.

ECS said...

batty: I like the separateness of having the photos on the flickr page, so I think I'm just going to have to spring for the $25 annual fee. For your viewing pleasure though, I have added a photo of the view on the day after this sledding odyssey when I went x-c skiing.
But regardless, I don't think the bruise photos are quiite in line with my usual photographic preferences for landscapes, although they are starting to resemble contour maps with the myriad of interesting colors I've developed.

Terry: regardless of whether there's snow or not, this area is splendid. I prefer it by far to the cities I visited in June. My Tyrolean ski instructor agreed that the beauty of Italy is in the countryside and small villages, not in the massive, noisy cities. As for the heart of the adventurer, I don't think it takes much courage to try this out, at least after you've had a glass of beer! It's much more catastrophic than it initially seems.

dtw said...

Whoa, an enormous silver mixing bowl? That'd probably be very good when jostling for positions but very bad for everyone else. I hope the folks using it didn't go all bumpercar bonkers on each others asses.

I do wish though that I still had the pictures of what looked like a cheeky bunch of cardboard beer display stands enthusiastically racing with toboggans...