Winter season is coming, and what is better than a weekend in the mountains? Recently, moreover, there has been a new valorization of the beautiful nature that mountain landscapes can offer, often conditioned and modified by the developed ski resorts.

Going back to the origins of life in the mountains, we propose 3 alternatives to traditional skiing: natural skiing, dog sledding and riding a little sleigh. Through fresh air, nature and fun, these techniques of descent and hiking are unique experiences that highlight the true essence of the mountain.


“Negative” sides of traditional skiing

Mountain lovers will wonder why the most popular and traditional winter sports are not so friendly to nature.

First it must be considered that most of the ski resorts has determined, for their realization, the disappearance of large areas of natural forest to give more space to slopes and ski lifts, the means of reclimbing.

Secondly, the equipment used for the upkeep of the slopes themselves include snow producers and snow groomers, which are not so good for the environment, for causing air pollution as well as noise.

These details are among the reasons why more people prefer alternative methods to enjoy their winter holiday in the mountains, looking for a deeper contact with the characteristic landscapes, preferably untouched.

Sciare rende felici (skiing makes happy) di Luciano Fochi via Flickr
Sciare rende felici (skiing makes happy) di Luciano Fochi via Flickr

Natural skiing

The idea for a natural skiing resort comes from Carlalberto Cimenti, great mountaineer from Pragelato, who has climbed and descended peaks of over 7000 meters by skiing.

The first ski resort in soft mobility will be launched this year: it’s the Pragelato Natural Terrain, a project of rescue for the old ski resorts closed from 3 year due to excessive costs.

The project of Pragelato Natural Terrain plans that chairlift and ski lifts will be open but the tracks will not be beaten by snow groomers, leaving fresh snow for all the freeride lovers and give the opportunity to practice other techniques such as ski touring and snowshoe hiking through marked trails, and the one for cross-country skiing, which extends over to Parco della Val Troncea.

The plan will also attend an new trial of a couple of kilometers reserved to dog sledding. All this chances of different and exciting winter sports give the opportunity to create a deeper and intense relationship with the nature of the place and discover the true essence of the mountain in a gentle and sustainable way.

Two proposals from Italy Green Travel to stay around Pragelato: Sibourgh Organic Farm and B&B Altrove.

View of the landscape from Pragelato Natural Terrain
View of the landscape from Pragelato Natural Terrain
A natural slope from Pragelato Natural Terrain
A natural slope from Pragelato Natural Terrain

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding, that in Pragelato Natural Terrain is a short route for a new activity to discover, in other alpine places sees already a good widespread and participation.

The technique was born as a mean of transport and to cover large distances in the Arctic and Siberian areas, and now dog sledding is very popular for unforgettable hiking in snowy landscapes.

The sled pulled by a pack of dogs isn’t only a sport, but it rather takes back to the origins of one of the most important collaborations between humans and animals, and therefore very instructive even for children that come to know dogs and learn to respect and consider them true companions in a funny way.

In Italy some of the structures offering dog sledding trips are in Arnoga, Alta Valtellina, with the Italian Center Sleddog Husky Village, in various places in the Valle d’Aosta with Grandes Jorasses Adventures, in Cansiglio, Belluno, with the Sleddog Club Valscura and in the Altopiano di Asiago with the Center Sleddog Marmarole.

In addition to the outdoor excursions with sled dogs, several clubs offer courses to become mushers, technical name for the driver of the sled, with lots of team competitions, and thus learn the basic techniques in order to conduct your own sled along paths and landscapes of fresh snow, trying a truly unforgettable experience.

In Arnoga we recommend the B & B Villa Verde Valtellina and Benny Bio Hotel.

Here our proposals to stay in Valle d’Aosta.

Sleddog nella foresta lappone by Fabio Bianchi 83 via Flickr
Sleddog in the Lapp forest by Fabio Bianchi 83 via Flickr
Sleddog Alaskan Malamute by Muratodentro [Luca Renoldi] via Flickr
Sleddog Alaskan Malamute by Muratodentro [Luca Renoldi] via Flickr


Anyone at least once in their life, especially during childhood, has experienced the joy of venturing down a snowy slope aboard a little sleigh!

But  not everyone knows that this practice has ancient origins, since the Viking era, and above that there are many tracks dedicated to tobogganing, single or in pair, that entertains people of all ages.

Among the best places to go tobogganing there is Plan (Pfelders), a small village at 1624 meters in Alta Val Passiria, with a natural track and the surrounding pure environment, ideal also for downhill skiing and cross-country skiers.

Other natural trails are in Monte Cavallo, Vipiteno, illuminated for the evening slopes, and that of Spëscia – Armentara, in La Val, which by the massif of the Sasso Santa Croce gives a spectacular descent through mountain meadows and characteristic snowy woods .

Tobogganing is a funny but also challenging sport and people who practice must be familiar with the methods of steering and braking, depending on the type of sledding, to travel safely and enjoy the dedicated trails in a completely natural show of the mountain.

Stays in Plan at the Hotel Pergola Residence and Residence EsserhofMaso Gstatschhof around Vipiteno and Al Lumin near La Val.

Slittino by Elwyng via Flickr
Slittino by Elwyng via Flickr
Tobogganing in Praxmar by galvanol via Flickr
Tobogganing in Praxmar by galvanol via Flickr

An alternative winter

In summary, natural skiing fits all the fans of fresh powder snow that can enjoy the thrill of downhill with breathtaking views, dog sledding is ideal for animal lovers, to find the basics of the relationship of trust and friendship between man and dog, and finally tobogganing gives fun and powerful experiences to all ages.

So this year, to enjoy the mountains in an alternative, eco-friendly way full of new experiences, which practice will attract you more between natural skiing, dog sledding and tobogganing?

Cover image: Cresta d’Arp, Curmayore, Italy, ph. by sausyn, via flickr

True Country Living by yukonchris via Flickr
True Country Living by yukonchris via Flickr
The Bench by [Jean-Baptiste] via Flickr
The Bench by [Jean-Baptiste] via Flickr

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