At Automattic’s Grand Meetup two weeks ago, one of the activities I participated in was the alpine sled at the Park City Mountain Resort.
This is how it all goes down:
First, you ride a ski lift to the top of the hill….
At the top of the hill, you grab one of these yellow sleds. It barely fits one person, has wheels on the bottom, a single brake lever on top, and — oh yeah — zero safety restraints. While you’re waiting to plunge to your potential death, you get a 30-second safety talk. It basically boils down to two tidbits of important information:
- Pull back on the lever to engage the brake.
- Do not go full speed down the entire length of the slide.
And off you go (no photos available of the ride itself, as I had one hand on the brake lever, and the other hand holding onto the side of the sled in a desperate attempt to keep my body on the sled)….
From my experience, most thrill ride operators will err on the side of caution and advise you to be more careful than you actually have to be. But in this case, the safety talk guy was definitely not kidding about needing to use the brake. I think I got about six seconds down the hill before I was sufficiently freaked out that I would fly off the track, and my sense of self-preservation convinced me to start pulling on the brake lever. Talk about holding your life in your hand.
For the record, one guy in our group did actually fly off the track and scrape himself up pretty badly.
Here’s the official video from the resort if you want to get an idea of what it felt like: