How to Enjoy the Mountains without Skiing? | 12 activity ideas

Think you need to change your plans for the Christmas holidays in the mountains? Think again! In our French ski resorts, there’s more thanjust downhill skiing! Mountain villages are alive and kicking despite the total absence of ski lifts for the December holidays. These beautiful valleys are full of all kinds of resources and are reinventing themselves for you! You won’t need a ski lift to have unforgettable moments! You’ll be able to see for yourself. To help you plan ahead a little more, here are our ideas for activities to enjoy the mountains without skiing.

Cross-country skiing, the first alternative to downhill skiing

Whether you’re with your family, as a couple, or with friends, the mountains offer plenty of activities other than downhill skiing! Among those we are presenting, there is cross-country skiing. There are two different techniques to practice this sport :

  • The “classical” method, also called the alternative step;
  • The skating method, or the skater step.

Cross-country skiing is a sport that requires real breathing power. To be able to access this practice, you must go to a Nordic area where adapted facilities exist. Even if it is an intensely physical activity, it is also gentle on the body and especially on the joints. A great discovery to make with your children or your grandparents!

Snowkiting, an unusual sport for skiing even without ski lifts

Snowkiting is skiing or snowboarding towed by a kite sail. You don’t need beautiful groomed slopes to do it! It can be practiced wherever there is snow! The only condition is to have open spaces to handle your sail the right way. If you have already kitesurfed, it will seem much easier. Depending on your snowkite spot, you will be able to admire the mountain from a totally different angle and even observe wild animals! This sport, which does not require access to the ski lifts, can be practiced as freeride, freestyle, or even walking.

In France, snowkite schools exist in some resorts to help you discover this unusual activity. Among the unmissable spots, there is the Lautaret pass, Les Angles, but also the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass in Savoie.

Ski touring, the solution for good skiers in search of thrills and excitement

How to discover and cross the mountains in winter? Well, without ski lifts, you’ll be left with your good old legs and a pair of cross country skis! This sport allows you to follow itineraries similar to those of summer hiking. In the middle of the mountains, you will feel alone in the world. On the way up, ski touring is possible thanks to sealskins glued under the spatulas. They prevent you from moving backward with every movement, and the skis are also equipped with free-heel bindings. When going back down, the skier must lock the bindings and remove the skins to be able to slide freely.

Ski touring requires knowing the mountain or being accompanied by people who know it. A high level is needed, as well as decent anticipation of the risks involved. Avalanches, crevasses, weather conditions… are all dangers that the skier must know how to assess. Caution is required, as well as the appropriate equipment (shovel, probe, Arva, etc.).

Ice climbing, an unusual activity for the most courageous adventurers

Have you ever heard of ice climbing? This unusual activity is practiced in winter when waterfalls and rivers are frozen. It requires some equipment such as :

  • a helmet ;
  • mountaineering boots with front spiked crampons;
  • two ice axes ;
  • a harness ;
  • gloves and warm clothing.

If you don’t have the right equipment, don’t worry, your guide will be able to help you out or tell you where to find what you need.

Ice climbing is not only for experienced climbers! It is also open to beginners! However, it is still necessary to be in good physical condition. This type of climbing often requires you to walk to the climbing point on snow-covered and impassable paths. The guides will generally recommend that you wait until the age of 14 to start this sport.

Like many mountain activities, nature is the only master on board, so you will have to comply with its requirements. Weather conditions can completely change your plans from one day to the next. There are ice climbing spots in many parts of France, such as the Pyrenees or the Alps.


Voir cette publication sur Instagram


Une publication partagée par Snowleader ⛰ (@snowleader74)

Hiking with or without snowshoes, a way to enjoy the mountains without skiing

Hiking is possible even in winter, especially if there is not much snow. Snowshoes will allow a more comfortable approach to hiking. Sinking with every step in the snow is not very pleasant and will limit you to only a few paths. Contrary to what one might think, walking with snowshoes is totally natural and does not hinder your steps. Many ski resorts provide their users with marked and safe trails. There are topos to inform you about the various possible hikes in the area or in the designated valley.

Your Bobee Spot app lists many fabulous spots to admire nature in winter when you are out and about. A snowshoe hike can be unusual and very fun. Some people go snowshoeing for adventure and excitement, as it is not necessarily the quiet sport one imagines. You could be racing down the slopes, jumping in the powder snow, or losing your breath in the beauty of the surrounding nature. Do you want to explore and practice snowshoeing in an adventurous way? Adequate safety equipment is recommended (shovel, probe, Arva, etc.).

Dog sledding, a Nordic sporting activity for young and old alike

Nature and winter sport par excellence, dog sledding will make you live a dream experience. Children and adults alike will be thrilled, and the magic is bound to work! This activity is practiced in wild spaces, alternating large expanses, and forest passages. The best spot in France for dog sledding is in Vassieux en Vercors in the Vercors massif. Supervised by a qualified musher, the Siberian huskies will pull your sled, but you will have to give them a hand from time to time! Indeed, the dogs don’t do everything, and it’s a real sport.

Nature and animal lovers will be delighted with this expedition. Some mushers even propose to bivouac over several days. If you find an unusual spot, become a Spotter, and share it with the Bobee Spot community. Thanks to the app, you will be able to discover places off the beaten track that will reconnect you to nature.

Ice skating, one of the children’s favorite winter activities

The ice rink is one of the favorite places for children in winter. This well-known activity is a good opportunity to spend time with the family. Your children will undoubtedly be much more comfortable on skates than you are, so be prepared! Can you imagine yourself already hanging on to the fence with trembling legs? It’s normal, but the more you practice, the more you will relax and make progress. If you’re looking for the perfect body, ice skating is a complete sport combining core building and cardio.

This fun and sporty activity will bring back memories of childhood because obviously, the main thing is to have fun! Skating is also an excellent way to discover the various disciplines involving skates. This is a great way to encourage your children to take up skating after their holidays in the mountains without skiing.

Snowmobiling, a good alternative for discovering the mountains

Do you want to experience new sensations in the snow? Why not opt for a snow scooter? Many French ski resorts offer snowmobile rides. It’s an unusual adventure to enjoy with friends or family. Lovers of motorsports and speed will find something to suit them, as will those who wish to contemplate the mountains at their own pace. Snowmobiling is a great way to enjoy the mountains without skiing. Young and old will have fun and share a memorable moment away from the slopes.

Ice diving, a new experience to enjoy the mountains without skiing

While some people enjoy diving in the warm waters of the Caribbean, others enjoy diving under the ice! These unusual dives allow you to discover the bottoms of mountain lakes. This activity is not reserved for experienced divers. It can be practiced whatever your level (often from 16 years old). If you are sensitive to the cold, don’t worry! Once you are geared up, you won’t feel it!

To go ice diving, you must be accompanied by a qualified instructor who will brief you and provide you with all the necessary equipment. The experience will leave a life-long impression on you because it is so unique and incredible! Entering the aquatic world of frozen lakes is a great adventure. It is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the mountains without skiing, thanks to this outlandish and unforgettable kind of activity. Many spots such as Tignes or Bessans exist in France. Don’t hesitate to find out more and share these spots on your Bobee Spot app!

Sledding, the essential activity for a successful winter holiday even without the skiing

Here’s a great classic for skiing holidays with family or friends: sledding! It can be practiced everywhere, and the resorts often create specially equipped slopes for sledding free of charge. You can also sled in a field where you can leave the first tracks, alone in nature. Not only is it endless fun for your children, but also for you, it’s a sport! And yes, you’ll be going up and down, but the laughter and good mood will be there to cheer you up. Beware of the cold for the little ones’ hands that often dangle out of the sled.

Speed Riding, another way of paragliding in the mountains

What could be better than combining skiing and paragliding? That’s what speed riding offers you! This unusual hybrid activity allows you to fly with your spatulas on your feet. Without the ski lifts, your instructors won’t be short of ideas to keep this breathtaking sport going. You will alternate between moments gliding on the ground and in the air. Thrill-seekers will get their money’s worth! They will enjoy the mountains without skiing and in an atypical way.

Among the best resorts for speed-riding are Grand Bornand, Chamonix, Morzine, and Les Arcs. But many other ski resorts, including the more family-friendly ones, also offer this type of activity.

Ice driving, an unusual pastime for thrill-seekers

Lovers of speed and mechanics will be seduced by the sensations of driving on ice. Thanks to a professional instructor, even beginners will learn how to control their car on a frozen track. The Serre Chevalier circuit or the Val Thorens one are among the essential spots for driving on ice. If you don’t feel like it, the show is just as impressive and deserves a quick stop if you are near one of these circuits.

Ski-joëring, another take on the relationship with horses

We often hear about sled dogs, but rarely about ski-joëring. Yet this activity has nothing to envy to the one we have presented above. The idea is that it is not dogs pulling you, but a horse. There is no sled! Only you, on your skis! These are entirely different sliding sensations that mix with the connexion made with the animal. This activity is a real therapy for those who are afraid of horses and a real pleasure for those who are passionate about them. An instructor accompanies you to show you how to position and steer the horse.

Ski-joëring can be practiced in the open air, including in powder snow. Both in hiking and in a sporty version, this sport will give you unique sensations. Like canicross, you can also be towed on skis by your dog according to his physical capacities.

This is the end of our selection of activities to enjoy the mountains without skiing! Of course, there are still activities that don’t require a lot of effort, such as browsing the small shops in the mountain villages. This will allow the suffering local economy to work in these times of sanitary crises. You will also be able to take advantage of your stay in the ski resort to relax with treatments in an institute. The ultimate activity remains the tasting of raclettes, fondues, or tartiflettes! This activity is one of your favorites, and ski lifts or not, no one will stop you from enjoying it! Finally, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to download Bobee Spot!