Up the hill, down the hill, always putting one foot in front of the other: Hiking is something we Alpine dwellers have long since perfected. And honestly, who can refrain from sighing devotedly at the sight of a summit cross? But with all the shouting of “Glück auf” (good luck), we sometimes forget what other great sports the mountains offer us beyond hiking. From canyoning to grass skiing to tandem paragliding: Here are the most exciting activities!
Let’s get one thing straight: the list of hiking alternatives is longer than we would have imagined. Starting with the harmless picnic, it extends to the British Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, in which participants chase after a rolling loaf of cheese and try to catch the expensive but nippy piece. Chasing the lactose circle is pretty dangerous, though, and picnicking is now not particularly innovative. In these six mountain sports, therefore, adrenalin meets fun, and at the same time, even less experienced people (with an appropriate professional by their side) can make their first attempts here. We wish you lots of fun trying them out!
Winter sports in the green: grass skiing
If you don’t want to wait months for snowflake white skirts, there’s a pretty good alternative: grass skiing. And although you can probably guess how this sport works, the question mark over your head won’t quite go away, right? Because how are you supposed to ski on grass? The whole thing works thanks to very special grass skis, which consist of a running track with rolling and sliding elements and thus look like small tracked vehicles. The sport has been around since 1960 when it was created to provide winter athletes with a training opportunity even in times without snow. In the meantime, it has established itself as a sport in its own right and there is even a world championship every two years.
The happiness of this earth: Alpine riding
Hold your classic riding associations like steppe landscapes, High Noon, and Lucky Luke in check for a moment: because riding can also look quite different. Instead of endless earth-brown expanses, some riding stables actually offer excursions through green high mountains. After all, horses helped people cross the Alps many centuries ago and are still beautiful and faithful companions on tours over hills and dale. Alpine riding is considered the master discipline of trail riding – so if you have little experience on horseback, you should first start in a safe environment at the farm. You can find farms that offer such excursions in East Tyrol and Switzerland, for example.
Off-road variation of a classic: Crossgolf
This freestyle variation of the traditional ball sport is anything but old-fashioned: in crossgolf, you don’t tee off your little round on a meticulously mown green, but – anywhere. In fact, crossgolf can be played anywhere that is safe for you and your surroundings. All you need is a ball and a club. You determine the target:
This can be a large stone, a tree, or a conspicuous shrub, and off you go. You take turns hitting the ball, and the one who “holes” the ball first wins. This wild type of golf is ideal for alpine landscapes, but don’t forget to collect everything you hit into the green again. Today, this trendy sport is also known as X-Golf, but its roots go back to the Scottish shepherds. They were still whizzing balls through the Highlands long before the first golf club opened in St. Andrews in 1754. And in 1971, there was even a tee shot at the moon by US astronaut Alan Shepard.
Adrenalin in the upwind: paragliding in tandem
Do you believe you can fly? Then try your flying skills on a tandem paragliding flight high above the mountain valleys. Especially for those who shy away from the descent and want to spare their knees, tandem paragliding is a stylish and adrenaline-filled way to get down. Nowhere else will you see the landscape from this unique perspective, and with a flying pro behind you, nothing can go wrong either. Of course, it still doesn’t hurt to have a solid set of nerves, because you’re going up quite high here. If you feel your inner eagle awaken while you’re soaring, you can add a whole flight training course to it. This is offered almost everywhere in the world where there are mountains.
If you prefer to calm your pulse instead of catapulting it to lofty heights, grab a mat and simply relocate your weekly yoga session to a mountain peak. Even Indian ascetics appreciated the peace and seclusion of alpine regions and used this change of perspective to find their inner center. Away from the noise and stress of the city, you can give your thoughts a break while listening to birdsong and actually say hello to the bright fixed star instead of the studio wall during the sun salutation. Especially motivated people meet for sunrise yoga before the first rays of sunlight and start the day in top form. Tip: Of course, you can simply hold the session at your favorite spot.
But there are also many great officials offers – including spots that are particularly suitable for relaxing.
Built close to the water: Canyoning
Admittedly, canyoning is not really “on” the mountain, but takes place between gigantic rock formations. But without mountains, this fantastic sport, which has experienced an increasing upswing in recent years, would not even be possible. Also called canyoning, it involves discovering the gorges carved out by masses of water – an experience that will amaze even the most experienced mountain enthusiasts. You slide, jump and climb along the natural course of the water thanks to suitable rental equipment and in the company of an experienced guide, and can thus explore the canyons Batman-style. As with skiing, there are levels of difficulty from blue to red to black. The rating depends on the height meters, the obstacles, and the length. So if you’re not sure, you should take the easy route as a precaution and then slowly increase your difficulty. A really great experience where you can put your climbing skills to the test in safe and picturesque surroundings.
And, have you already planned some to-dos for your next mountain excursion? Try out these exciting sports and experience alpine landscapes off the beaten track. Want to know how you can add more variety to your winter holiday? We’ve done some research to find out which trendy sports could put even your beloved skiing in the shade.