It might seem like a harmless leisure activity, but sledging can be dangerous. Every year in Switzerland, over 7,000 people sustain injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises or fractures while sledging, and over the last decade, eight people have died.
swissinfo.ch has chosen three sledging routes from the west to the east of Switzerland, which are easy, medium and difficult, to help you understand the labelsexternal link given to the routes.
1. Easy: Jaun-Gastlosen / Jaun-Pass
Jaun-Gastlosen, named after its limestone mass, is in canton Fribourg, but borders cantons Bern and Vaud. Because of its geographical position, it is regarded as one of the safest ski resorts in canton Fribourg. The 6km sledging route,external link which is separated from the ski piste, starts with a curving descent, which should be navigated slowly, before gentle slopes open up to a forest landscape. The route has become a favourite among sledding connoisseurs in the west of Switzerland and is reputed to be one for all the family.
2. Medium: Milez-Rueras
The sledging route at Milez-Ruerasexternal link is only partly separated from the ski slope, so those on sledges should watch out for skiers crossing their path. Care should also be taken when steering below the railway bridge on the way down to Dieni-Rueras, where there is a sharp right curve before the finish line. The 3.5km route is aimed at both family groups and those seeking something a little more sporty.
3. Difficult: St Moritz / Muottas Muragl
This route is not for the faint-hearted. Muottas Muraglexternal link, the fastest of all the eastern region’s sledging routes, has a vertical drop of 718m over 4.2km, which guarantees plenty of action. Some of the 20 curves along this steep route have hairpin bends and shouldn’t be tackled by the inexperienced or families. Small children are not permitted to use this sledging route.
Safety tips from those in the know
We took our safety pointers from the Swiss Council for Accident Preventionexternal link.
- Use a toboggan (A long sled with the front end curled upwards). This can be more easily controlled than a conventional wooden sledge.
- Wear high-ankled, sturdy shoes with a good tread. Consider additional brake-soles.
- Wear a snow sports helmet.
- Sledge only on marked sledge/toboggan routes, obstacle-free paths or slopes.
- Do not sledge head first and do not tie sledges together.
- Do not sledge under the influence of alcohol.
- Look out for other people: give others space when overtaking, don't stop in the middle of the piste and look all around before stopping and starting.