Warm Drinks and Bitter Noses

It’s  -18’C on clear indigo twilight, your nose is sticking together and upon your first step outside the car your fingers begin to burn and ache. As you gather your gear you have moments of doubt but the knowledge of the overwhelming joy of racing down the snowy track in darkness, motivates you.

The snow loudly crunching under your feet and enthusiastic laughter off in the distance, you begin your climb. Sled tied to your back pack or your waist to make the burden easier and shoe spikes for traction on the snowy surface. It may be only a 2.2 kilometer walk up from the Kurvenlift parking area but it was in these conditions my husband and I decided to do our first night run from Untere Firstalm.

When I described this to my friends and family back in the US they thought we had to be crazy heading out at night in extreme winter weather, but honestly if you prepare right.  It can be a wonderful adventure.  Doing a nice small hike like this to a cozy location like Untere Firstalm is a perfect way to ease you and your family into hiking and sledding.  There is nothing better than seeing the warm lights spilling out of the windows on a winters eve and hearing laughter and music and knowing you are just a few icy breaths from a warm drink.  This year I have been introduced to hot chocolate with Rum called a Lumumba.  But I have to admit my favorite is the Jägertee, which is a very strong alcoholic beverage made by mixing overproof rum with black tea, red wine, plum brandy, orange juice and various spices.

Once you have warmed yourself up a bit, inside and out, it is time to get your gear back on.  For Untere Firstalm I would recommend wearing a good headlamp if it is not a full moon evening.  On the evening we did our run there was no real moon light but the bright white snow was reflecting quite a bit and our headlamps were quite helpful.  Obere Firstalm has lighting along their run for night sledding and it is Obere Firstalm where you can rent a sled.  Rental sleds are 4 euros and you have to pay for them inside the restaurant but pick up your sled outside from an out building. Obere Firstalm is a simple walk up a serpentine path from Untere Firstalm if you don’t wish to carry your own sled up the hill.  This is great if you decide last minute to go sledding.

Either sled run is perfect for everyone in the family to get on a sled and have a great time.  They are very easy to navigate with the perfect about of gentle turns and slow inclines.  Nothing at all terrifying and a great place to get the sledding bug.

Both Obere Firstalm and Untere Firstalm are wonderful places to visit set in absolutely stunning location.  During the day or in the evening their very friendly service and delicious food and drink make it the perfect destination for the whole family to have fun.



Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).




Family Friendly Sledding Locations

Each winter I am asked by visitors to Schliersee where can they find real accessible “Family Friendly Sledding”.  So this year I thought I would put together a small list of places I have discovered and tell you a little about each location.

Albert Link Hutte:  Located in the center of Valepp Almen which is just behind the Alte Wurzhütte in Spitzingsee.  It is not accessible by car but is a very easy walk.  For Albert Link you need to bring your own sled but the location gives the whole family tons of options.  Not only has Albert Link plowed their own small sled run, in Valepp there is a beautifully groomed Loipe for Cross country skiers as well as many tow bars for Alpine skiers as well.  Parents tell me they find this to be a perfect location for family sledding. I can tell you their Kaiserschmarnn is out of this world. Remember that Mondays are Albert Link Hutte is closed.

Alt Spitzingsee Strasse: This is the old road that use to take you up to the village of Spitzingsee and is now used for moving cattle and hiking.  In the winter months, when there is enough snow in the valley Alt Spitzingsee Strasse is a great family friendly sled run.  The one downside about sledding here is the lack of parking.  You need to plan that out if you decide to sled this hill.  A great easy way to enjoy this location is to take turns or have a designated driver who drops the sledders off at the top of Alt Spitzingsee Strasse and then picks them up at the bottom near the Joseftal waterfall.  This is a very gentle slope and great for learners.  Hiking up or dropping off both are a lot of fun.  And for your Apres sledding fun, make sure to go around the corner and enjoy some of the amazing homemade cakes, warm drinks by the hearth at Cafe Brunnhof.


Located just up the street from the Fischhausen-Neuhaus train station. This simple little hill much loved by visitors and locals alike if the perfect stop for your littlest snow bunnies.  On one side of the hill you have a tow bar for a beginner ski slope and the other side is a gentle slope for sledding.  Also provided here is a Loipe for Cross Country skiers.  All this and an amazing view down onto Schliersee. What more could you ask for on a day out in the snow.

Obere and Untere Firstalm:

Both of these locations are just perfect for everyone in the family.  It is a simple gradual hike of 2,5 kilometers from either the Kurvenlift parking or from Spitzingsee saddle. Obere Firstalm rents sleds for 4 euros per sled and you pay for the rental inside the restaurant.  Untere Firstalm does not rent but it is easy to bring or own or to carry the rental sled down to their run.  You can’t go wrong with either location for food and drink and the proprietors are warm friendly people.

Schliersee between Westenhofen and Hausham: Just before you arrive in Schliersee on the right side of the road between Westenhofen and Hausham there is a hill.  On any snowy day it will be full of joyful families sledding.  My colleague Ulrike McCarthy wrote a great article on this location.


Last but not least is Schliersbergalm. One of the most spectacular views in all of Schliersee and a simple hike up or you can take a cable car.  It is a very sunny location so sledding might not always be possible if we do not have a lot of snow in the valley.  It is a gentle slope down the hill with lots of turns.   Great food and drink and one amazing view is all provided.


Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).




Winterizing your Ride

On the day we moved to Schiersee, as the moving company was unloading our truck to the back drop of the wintery Brecherspitz mountain, I kept hearing one word in German mumbled under their breath…” Schneeloch”, simply translated to English as “Snow Hole”. I think they thought we were absolutely crazy to move from the historic downtown of a city to an old alpine farm house surrounded by trees and mountains. That is not how we saw it at all. We envisioned snowy mornings, sipping coffee by the heat of wood stove and jumping into winter boots to make the first foot prints in the fresh snow.  We are two years into our alpine adventure and Schliersee has not disappointed. Call me crazy, but most days I feel like Alice in a Wonderland.

Our first snow since becoming Schliersee residents, one of our neighbors called us and told us to grab our sleds and come over he would show us the best local sledding spots. Mind you it was a blizzard out and our sleds were ones I had found on a trash pile that I used for decoration but that was not going to stop us from joining in on the winter fun. We did take some mocking from our friend who had what I can only describe as the Ferrari of sleds. It was all sleek and sturdy and he swore you were able to actually steer it. So began our search to find the perfect winter sports car…I mean sled.

On the advice of many locals we were told to go make a visit to the Schliersee Radhaus and talk with it’s very knowledgeable owner Felix Wolf. He was amazing. He took my husband out back to an extra warehouse absolutely full of sleds. He explained to us that the Gasser sled made in Tirol was really a lifetime purchase. Most German families will have a range of sleds from sleds for the baby on to adult sleds. It was a big investment but for us it was an easy decision. We love winter sports but with both of us having joint issues this was a great way for us to have a fun winter sport we could do together.

I felt very much like Goldilocks trying to choose my sled. My husband’s was too big and heavy and others just didn’t fit me right but Felix brought out a young boys sled that was “just right”.  He took our sleds in the back and sharpened our rails and explained to us how to properly store them so we could enjoy them for many seasons to come. Another thing I really appreciated about Felix from Schliersee Radhaus was his emphasis on sledding safety. He didn’t just sell us our sleds he explained to us basic courtesy while sledding and important gear we would need.  He asked us to make sure to always wear a proper skiing helmet. Having enjoyed two wonderful sledding seasons, we have been witness to several accidents where sledders were ill prepared and we are grateful to Felix who prepared us correctly.

Felix shared some of his tips about buying and storing your sled:

  • Store the sled standing up in dry place
  • If you see rust starting on the rails, which is natural, give the rails a good wipe down with course (50 – 80 grit) sand paper and then apply a very light coating of oil
  • To keep rust from forming on the rails during storage cover the metal rails with packing tape
  • ALWAYS wear a helmet
  • Have as much fun as possible!

If you are coming to Schliersee or Spitzingsee for sledding and are ready to commit to your sled. Drop by the Schliersee Radhaus and talk with Felix. Don’t hesitate…Winter is just around the corner. For more information on Felix Wolf and the Schliersee Radhaus:



Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).




Schliersee sleds and sledding

Living here in Germany for many years, we have learned the art of long wander each Sunday with friends or family. Having a destination where you can have a meal or even just a drink gives the walkers motivation and inspiration to travel further.

Here in Schliersee on most snowy Winter Sundays everyone excitedly pulls out their trusty sleds from their attics and cellars hops in their cars and heads to one of the many different groomed paths. A favorite for families is to find parking on Spitzingsee and then begin their hour or so long pilgrimage from the saddle of Spitzingsee up to either Untere Firstalm or Obere Firstalm. Most folks stop for a delicious lunch and possibly some warm drinks before once again gathering all their snow clothes and sleds and beginning the fun decent on their sleds back down the mountain. The ride down is quicker but filled with laughter.

Another great alternative if hiking isn’t your idea of fun is to have someone drive you and your sled up Spitzingsee and about halfway on the right side is the old Spitzingsee road. It is here you can begin your snowy decent without even burning one ounce of sweat. Your driver can meet you at the bottom of the road near the Joseftal Waterfall. Its great fun for the entire family no matter their level of fitness.   If you have really small children a great spot easy to access from the Neuhaus train station is the pfannilift.

After expending all that energy in hiking and laughing you can wander over on foot or by car to Cafe Brunnhof, located just around the corner from the Joseftal Waterfall. You will be greeted warmly by their wonderful owners and their amazing array of delicious cakes.

Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).