29 June 2018 from Danielle in 'Ski areas''

Sand skiing on dunes

Sand skiing on dunes

As soon as the last of the ski resorts in Europe closes in the late spring, skiing summer depression sets in. What to do during the long days of hot weather and nary a snowflake in sight? Some of us may make the trek to the glacier ski resorts in the Alps, or the even longer trek to the southern hemisphere where there are some great ski resorts to explore. After all, we’ll do anything just to find a bit of fresh powder! But then again, who says you really need snow for skiing and snowboarding? If you’re prepared to think outside the box, dune skiing can be a fantastic alternative to winter skiing.

Skiing and snowboarding... on sand?

As the name implies, sand skiing is almost exactly like skiing, except it takes place on the sand instead of the snow. All you need is a mountain of sand, which makes it an attractive alternative to skiing and snowboarding during the summer months. You can choose to travel all the way to the desert to practise skiing on the dunes, but you can also find sand skiing locations closer to home, like at Monte Kaolino in Germany. For all you people out there who can’t survive a whole summer without skiing, this sport is for you! Bringing along your new skis is not recommended...

Dune skiing in Peru

Sand skiing: how does it work?

Although they look similar, regular skiing and sand skiing require a completely different technique. Sand has an odd consistency reminiscent of deep, wet snow – or molasses. In fact, skis and snowboards must be properly waxed so they’ll slide better on the hot desert sand. It may be difficult to adjust to the texture at first, but if you throw all your strength into it, raise your ski tips and lean in just the right way, you should find yourself gliding down the hills in no time. During the learning curve, you’ll want to protect yourself with a long-sleeved shirt and trousers as falling on the sand hurts!

Dune skiing in Namibia

As we mentioned in our article on skiing in Africa, Namibia is home to some wicked dune skiing. This country in the south of Africa is largely made up of desert, and snow is nowhere to be seen, so they had to make do with the next-best alternative. Ski Namibia offers guided tours of the dunes where you can get to know a whole new side to your favourite winter sports! You can also find opportunities for sand skiing in Dubai and in the sand dunes around the Peruvian oasis of Huacachina.

Dune skier rips it up in Namibia

Enjoying dune skiing

Dune skiing on Monte Kaolino in Germany

It's not just in the far-flung places of the planet that you can find sand skiing. Closer to home is Monte Kaolino in Germany, a 120m-high lift-served hill that offers sand skiing and snowboarding. It’s also an amusement park with a summer toboggan run, the Monte Coaster – well worth a visit! Sand skiing and snowboarding can also be done on France’s Pyla dune, the tallest dune in Europe. ski dune pyla

Sand skiing tournament in Germany

Sand skiing is not just a crazy hobby for ski and snowboard fanatics that are dying to get back on the slopes. It’s actually a well-respected sport of its own, with a host of international competitions to its name. Monte Kaolino is a regular host to the Sandboarding World Championships.

Skiing on Monte Kaolino

Not only skiing... a snowboarder tears down the dunes

A skier enjoys the view from the sand dunes

Grass skiing as an alternative to sand skiing

If you don’t have a sand hill handy, you can also try skiing or snowboarding on grass. However, you’re going to need very special skis for this. Regular skis have too much traction on grass and are unable to slide properly down the slope. Grass skis resemble mini-tractors and work in a similar fashion. Have fun practising your curves with these bad boys!

Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!