The Swiss Family Carlson Risks Their Lives!!

Our week after getting back from Dijon was just too quiet.  The weather had been beautiful.  We spent plenty of time out at the Schützenmattpark riding bikes and playing soccer, but this was our last spring break weekend!  We should do something fun!!  So why not go down to Langenbruck, Switzerland and hurl ourselves down a mountain and then go through an obstacle course 20+ feet in the air??

Hurling oneself down a mountain seems to be what they do here in Switzerland so perhaps this is a sign that we are assimilating nicely.

Getting there was relatively simple.  Just a tram ride, 2 train rides, and a bus to get to this place that was, literally, just on the side of the road.  All joking aside, it was only an hour away from Basel and the public transportation makes the journey very easy.

They call this thing a Solarbob.  It’s a bobsled type of slide run that is completely powered by solar energy.  (The extra energy produced feeds into the local grid.)

An old image from the Solarbob website.  What is missing is the ropes course that is over the parking lot.
An old image from the Solarbob website. What is missing is the ropes course that is over the parking lot.

At the bottom of the hill you get onto a good-sized plastic sled not unlike the sleds we used to use in the winter.  The only different is a handle between your knees that applies some kind of friction break to slow you down.  The sleds are fed through by conveyor belt and you hop on as it goes by.  Many people take their younger children on the sleds in front of them.  Kids about E’s age go by themselves.

IMG_1323The straight line up the middle is the pulley system that takes your little plastic cart to the top of the hill.  Then you are tipped over the edge and allowed to go at break-neck speeds down through the curves and turns to the bottom.

There are no helmets.  There is nothing to steer with and you only have that hand break to control your speed.  One of the few safety fences is held up by ski poles.  So, basically what I’m saying is that there is no way this would be allowed in this form in the U.S.

H, the 5yo, loved it!

IMG_1329There is a speed gun near the bottom of the run and you can see how fast you’re going.  We averaged between 30 and 40 kph.  Then at the very end there is a curtain made of heavy plastic strips nailed over an arch way to encourage you to slow and stop. If you don’t put your hand up these strips slap you in the face and leave your cheeks stinging.

E tried the Solarbob twice and had decide it wasn’t for him.  He was anxious and excited to try the ropes course, called the Seilpark, that was located just over and a bit north of the parking lot.

The heat had evidently addled my brains, because before I knew what I was doing I was putting on a harness and going up with him.   I must be out of my mind, I thought, because I am afraid of heights.

Langenbruch2

E was so excited.  He makes it look so easy, but believe me it was hard work!  It takes a lot of leg, arm, and core strength.  Not to mention the ability to watch where your feet are going without actually seeing the ground.

I was able to make it through one course round, but my knee started to give and cramp so I had to quit.  Mark took over where I left off, much to E’s glee.

They actually zip-lined!  I didn’t get a picture because I was using all my will to help him across and totally forgot I should be commemorating this event.

Langenbruch1 Langenbruch4E and Mark were a good 40 feet off the ground and were going to fly over a gravel parking lot to a platform on the other side.  E stood on the platform a long time thinking about how he was going to fling himself off a perfectly good structure.  You can see the platform he started from in the picture above.  The green net on the right-hand side leads up to that platform and the zip over to the white platform mid-way down you can barely make out on the left-hand side of the picture.

When I asked him later what he was thinking about he told me, “The cord was going to snap, I amgoing to whack myself into the platform and not grab on, I am going to puke  … basically I was going to die.”  To which H replied, gesticulating with hand palm up and clawed for emphasis, “But you did it and you conquered the fear in your heart.”

 One of the more fun obstacles on the course was riding the horse across the gap!

It is quite something to be on a ropes course.  You feel like you can do anything afterwards.  It’s a huge confidence builder and I think I might actually look for a climbing class or camp for E to attend for a bit this summer.  I don’t think I’ll be sending him up any mountains, but perhaps a boulder or two?

Langenbruch5
Just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

We were there for 4 hours.  E was on the course for over 2 of those hours.  H went down the Solarbob at least 12 times.  Exhausted, but happy we left and found ourselves just under an hour early for the bus.  There was an outdoor pub conveniently located by the bus stop, so Mark and I had a celebratory beer while the kids had some well-earned chips and juice.

We were definitely not alone at the park.  Tons of families – with children of all ages – were there.  It’s a small gem in an out-of-the-way place.  If you are in Switzerland and looking for something completely unusual to do I highly recommend the Solarbob and Seilpark in Langenbruck.


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