Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snowboarding Slovenia

I recently returned from a snowboarding trip to the mountains of Slovenia. If you're shredding powder on a budget... Vogel is the place to go

Vogel Ski Resort is located in the Bohinj Valley of the Julian Alps and is part of Triglav National Park. At the base of the resort is a long cable car, which is a five minute walk from Lake Bohinj. The cable car is probably the most dangerous ride in Vogel. It's elevated at a sharp 55 degree angle and comes uncomfortably close to the mountainside. Although it appears dangerous, it's actually fairly safe. Plus from broad windows inside the cabin you get an awesome view of Lake Bohinj below. The rapid change in altitude makes the inner ear feel pressure, like when planes are ascending during a flight.
Once on top of the mountain, the area is perfect for riding. There was fresh powder as far as the eyes can see. In the distance from the resort, there were lower mountains with hikers and cross-country trail skiers. I walked around for the first hour, checking which slopes had the best places to go free-riding.

I love to snowboard! The feeling of gliding down the mountainside at mach speed gives me an adrenaline rush like no other. Most of the slopes in Vogel are for beginners and intermediate riders. They have a snow park with a few kickers and rails, but it's usually crowded by midday. For advanced riders, there's a ton of places to go free-riding and drift through fresh powder. That's where I ran into trouble.

After snowboarding most of the beginner slopes, and doing one day of skiing with my woman, I decided to go off slope in the back country for some authentic free-riding through the Slovenian mountains. I began at a place known as the "Eagle's Nest." It's a ridiculously high mountain peak that can only be reached by drag lift. At the top is a platform where people with para-gliders launch to ride the air down currents to Lake Bohinj.

Once I started down the slope I know I had made a mistake. The snow was fresh and soft as cotton balls. After a few minutes of riding down the steep incline, I hit a ditch in the snow. It felt like there was a hole in the ground below and when I hit the hole it threw off my balance. Thankfully, I'm an experienced enough rider not to fall the first time. As I continued down the mountain, my speed increased, as did the rocks, trees and shrubbery not too far from the slope, controlled by the resort. Roughly ten minutes after my first almost fall, I hit another dip in the ground. I was already past the halfway marker, back on the main path when I sunk too deep into the snow and fell forward.

The speed of my descent, combined with the soft snow and wind milling arms, caused me to fall in what can only be described as painful Yoga positions. When I finally stopped rolling, one glove was off, one boot was loose from its binding and it felt like someone had hit my shoulder with a sledge hammer. Luckily nothing was broken, and I made it through the rest of the trip without any more injuries. The lesson learned was, don't go free-riding on unfamiliar terrain ... without a helmet and body armor.

Aside from skiing/snowboarding, Vogel offered a diverse assortment of outdoor and indoor activities for families and couples. There was sledding, hiking, ice skating, para-gliding, sauna, spa, and even cave exploration. The local cuisine consisted primarily of meat dishes (like most places in central Europe) like beef, pork, and lamb. There were enough alternatives like chicken, turkey and veggie (fried cheese) burgers to keep me well-fed.

Overall the trip was awesome and super affordable. Like I said in the beginning..."If you're snowboarding on a budget, Slovenia is a place to visit." Below I posted some pictures and videos of me snowboarding and skiing from the trip. Check 'em out. If you like what you see, post a comment or send me an email. I love to hear back from my readers.  


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