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Gravity adventures in the Lake Geneva Region – glaciers, roller coasters and monster bikes

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By Jonathon Reynolds 


Diablerets is a small village sheltered under the mountains with a huge glacier hanging high above the village. We are here to do two things: ride a roller coaster high above the glacier and ride down the mountain on dirt monster bikes.


Dirt monster bikes are a cross between a mountain bicycle and a fat-tired motor bike – without the motor. The fat wheels allow us to go over the grass and through the mud leaving no marks and not getting stuck. Pedalling them in any direction other than down is a lot of work, but we have 700 metres to drop into the valley from the top of the gondola, so it is no problem coasting down narrow tracks and then through some steep muddy sections in the woods. We are completely muddy and wet when we get back to the bottom but we all have big grins on our mud speckled faces.


Then we head over the mountain to Villars to go hiking. Villars almost feels like a big city after the small villages of Leysin and Diablerets. It is really not a big town but it is far larger than anywhere we have been since we left Lausanne. In an arc above the village rise the ski slopes and high above the village centre a golf course is perched on the mountain.


After a lunch at a delightful family restaurant, tucked away at the end of a road, we wander along a hiking route far from the town centre.  We hike around a farm high in the mountains and then return to Diablerets and take another gondola up to the Glacier 3000 roller coaster – so called because it rests at 3000 metres altitude. As we get higher the gondola breaks through the thin cloud cover and we are faced with an incredible view of peaks stretching off in all directions. As we get off the gondola we see the roller coaster that we're about to embark on right in front of us on the snowy slopes. Riding down this huge roller coaster, with the wind in our hair and sunlight sparkling off the snow all around, we laugh out loud at the sheer beauty of this magical place. On the glacier below us we can see small figures of hikers walking or snowshoeing on the trails.

We are very reluctant to leave but after a while we must go or risk missing the train back to Geneva to catch our flight. A small two car train takes us on a fairytale journey down from the mountains and we slowly make our way back into the mad rush of the real world. We change trains in Aigle, leaving the slow two car train to embark on a fast train to Geneva.

As the train zips along the shore of the lake we look back at the mountains behind us. The sunlight sparkling on the water reminds us of the sun sparkling on the Glacier earlier in the day, and a hawk hovering high above a vineyard reminds me of paragliding over Villars. Just as the hawk migrates south and returns with the seasons we too shall return to the Alps above Lake Geneva.



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