Hands down, the best part of our trip to Lucerne was the our day spent at Mt. Pilatus. From the Lucerne city center, we hopped on Bus 1 towards Kriens-Obernau and rode it the 9 miles south of Lucerne to the Linde-Pilatus bus stop at the base of the mountain. Upon arrival, we followed the others on the bus for a 10 minute walk up a hill to the ticket station.
We knew we wanted to accomplish two things at Mt. Pilatus: 1) go sledding and 2) go the summit of the mountain. We informed the ticket lady of our wishes and she offered us the cheapest package (49 CHF) possible to do both (our wallets were hurting from the previous night’s fondue dinner). We were to ride all the way to the top, switching gondolas at Fräkmüntegg, and then we could spend however long at the top of the mountain. We would then ride the gondola back down to Fräkmüntegg where we could rent sleds and sled all the way to the bottom of the mountain, which turned out to be 6 kilometers.
It was not a particularly beautiful day, so we reluctantly left our sunglasses at the hostel and decided it’d be worth the trip to the top anyway. The first leg of the gondola ride was particularly eerie; we could not even see the gondola in front or behind us. Once we emerged through the Krienseregg station, the fog subsided and we started getting our gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape. The gondola ride definitely got my fear of heights acting up a bit, but it was totally bearable. The hike to the very peak of the mountain on the other hand was not for me. Icy steps + wooden railings brought out all sorts of heebie-jeebies. The fog prevented us from seeing the gorgeous lakes below the clouds, but it sure was sunny at the peak and we were really able to see for miles, enjoy the beautiful day, throw some snowballs, and grab a hot chocolate at the cafe.
And now, for the highlight of the trip: extreme sledding. It’s not actually called extreme sledding, but it sure was to us Texans. To the Swiss, this was apparently the standard. Before this trip, my idea of sledding involved a plastic sheet with handles and a snow covered hill. Sledding on Mt. Pilatus, on the other hand, involved classic wooden sleds, called toboggans (who know toboggans were something other than a hat), on ski (but sled) runs with easy and difficult routes for the 6 kilometers all the way down the mountain. We were total newbs choosing between the different sleds and went for the 8 CHF rental option. When we received our sleds, we asked the expert how to “drive” them. He explained to dig our respective heels into the snow to guide the sled and to dig both in to slow down and stop. He then suggested we try out the kiddie hill a couple of times. We approached the “kiddie hill”, which was actually one of the steepest runs we encountered, and both watched nervously as some other tourists tried out their sleds. After one run, we figured we’d pick it up along the way, and began the adventure riding down sled runs and through the trees, it was a scene right out of the song “Over the River and Through the Wood”. We had an BLAST and I demand that none of you go to the Alps in the winter without finding somewhere to sled.
Have you ever been sledding?