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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Schiltgrat to Mürren

Keen to get on with some winter sport, we headed for the Lauterbrunnen Valley today for our first sledge run of the season. I wanted to try a new run and having seen the Apollo route on the interactive map of pistes around Mürren, we confirmed with the ticket office that the run was open, rented two Rodel sledges, and got going.

The first challenge was to get on a chairlift for the first time in a couple of years: they move relatively quickly and by the time we’d jumped on, with our sledges, and lowered the safety bar, we’d already received our first dose of adrenalin. The second burst came when we got off at the top – a speedy dismount is needed to avoid getting walloped from behind. (Skiers have it easy: they can just stand up and slide away.)

The top of the run, beneath the high mountain stations at Birg and Schilthorn, proved to be the worst bit – the ground dropped sharply into the Schilttal valley, with one section too steep for us to even consider sliding down. Not just because we’re out of practice, but because of shallow snow meaning that there was no safe place to “land” if we went out of control on a corner just below the drop.

Schilttal, Switzerland

Apollo sledge run, in the Schilttal valley

After clambering down and finding that the remainder of the route down the valley was more suitable – even if some parts of the track were a bit earthy due to thin snow cover – we managed to get up to speed and enjoyed the rest of the run. A few stops for photos later, we stopped at the traditional alpine café at Gimmeln for a small bowl of chips each. From there, our route continued on the footpath leading back to Mürren, passing individual chalets and sheds with terrific views over the valley, so we had the additional challenge of dodging the occasional walker whilst digging in hard to brake on the more icy sections through the woods.

All in all, a good route, but one which would be better when there’s more snow about and certainly not for the novice or for the faint-of-heart.

Gimmeln, Switzerland

Gimmeln, Switzerland