The winter season has officially started. At least now we have proper snow all over and not just on the glaciers. This means it’s time for one of my favorite winter activities, riding my infamous rodel down the hill. There are a bunch of amazing natural sled tracks (Naturrodelbahnen) all around Innsbruck. But since I live in Tirol, one of the best tracks is about 30 minutes away in Maria Waldrast (south of Innsbruck). The great thing about this track is that you go up one way and go down another way.

For more info visit Klostergasthof Maria Waldrast website and Winterrodeln.org

What makes it special

There are 2 types of Rodelbahns, the ones where you walk up while pulling your sled along with you and the ones you take a lift to the top and slide down. The Rodelbahn in Maria Waldrast is of the second variety. One thing that makes this Rodelbahn special is the separation between the tracks. This means one way to go up and another way to go down. Hence, it is safer since there are no pedestrians on your way down. This of course might make you want to go faster and I would highly recommend not do so. Safety is safety and one must be riding keeping speed and accuracy in mind. This means slow down before turns and keep a steady speed in the straight line.

Sledding around Innsbruck // #myinnsbruck Photography © Paul Pastourmatzis

The Weather Variable

Choosing when to go for rodel, usually depends on the weather. If it’s cold enough, if it snowed enough the previous days etc. That particular day though, the weather started off pretty calm and by the time we were walking up it turned into a mini snow storm. Only to calm down again; 10 minutes before we decided to sled down. Perfect timing!

The distance and the day are also major factors. Living in Innsbruck though, makes the decision easier all the time. Especially when it comes to distance. The Rodelbahn in Maria Waldrast is 35 minutes by car from Innsbruck, fact that makes it pretty accessible.

Sledding around Innsbruck // #myinnsbruck Photography © Paul Pastourmatzis

Are you tired already?

Another factor that can influence your decision in choosing the perfect Rodelbahn, might be the walking time. I’ve been to places where you walk up for 2-2.5 hours or even 30 minutes. Of course the longer the walk, the longer the downhill. I can’t be objective with these things though, simply because I am a Rodel-fanboy. The reward is too great to overlook. Sledding downhill for 10-15 minutes…? It’s epic although it requires plenty of stamina. Keeping your balance and also shifting it for turns on a rodel can tire you up sooner than you think. It’s not rocket science, but it is (if you know what I mean).

Sledding around Innsbruck // #myinnsbruck Photography © Paul Pastourmatzis

Reach the Top

Just like with every other “hike”, you can reward yourself once you ‘re on the top of the Rodelbahn. Rest a bit, warm up, change clothes, have something to drink. Don’t eat too much though, a snack (or Jause in German) is enough. Trust me, you don’t want to ride a rodel on a completely full stomach.

Sledding around Innsbruck // #myinnsbruck Photography © Paul Pastourmatzis