Dog Sledding is NO Walk in The Park

written by Tiana Kai
Dog sledding in Sestriere Italian Alps

I thought this was going to be easy…noooo!

Down hill, up hill, run, jump back on the sled, don’t take a picture or you’ll fall off the side and pack your boots with snow. Dodge the poop, skip over the pee, run up hill, don’t take a picture or you’ll fall again…

Who knew that dog sledding—cane da slitta—was such a work out!?

Dog sledding in Sestriere

I finally got to go on a 40 minute trek with a pack of Huskies in Sestriere. For all the winters I’ve spent here I first learned about Luca Chiarelli just two weeks ago.

Luca’s been running his dog sledding business for over 20 years and has set up winter camp (with an awesome tee-pee) in Sestriere for 7 years. I first found him because I was wandering around the Olympic Village. The building was built for the athletes for the 2006 Winter Olympics and has since been converted into a hotel with a salon, grocery store, sports bar, shops, etc. There’s the gondola right out front that takes you up to Mount Fraiteve where you can ski Sansicario and Sauze d’Oulx, even hike in the summer!

During my wandering I heard howling. Huh? What the? I walked towards the sound and found sleds and the most excited Huskies I’ve ever seen. They were ready to go on their next run. Before you know it I made an appointment to experience it for myself.

Dog Sledding in Italy

Tee Pee in the snow

Dog Sledding in Sestriere

After the 10 minute crash course on how to manage the sled, push in the brake and work with the dogs I jumped on my sled. My four pack of wolves were looking at me like “Let’s go lady! Andiamo!”.

Off we went in a single file line down the narrow track which was walled with 2-3 feet of fresh snow. My quads were shaking right away. I’ve been snowboarding and walking a lot the past three weeks, so was surprised how out of shape I felt. I think it had to do with the intensity—if you screw up your dogs take off and can run over the person in front of you.

The track was basically filled with switch backs. We went downhill and flat for a long stretch and then…up…hill. This means get your chubby thighs off the sled and run. Forget dances with wolves, this was runs with wolves!

Huskies dog sledding

The starting line

Huskies dog sled in Italy

Dog sledding

Dog Sled in the Alps

Dog sled in Alps

Dog sledding in Piedmont

Heading back to Sestriere

The day was incredible. The sun was out and the panorama of the route was so gorgeous. It was fun whizzing past all the fresh untouched snow—some of which I got extremely closer than I would have liked, like maybe 3 feet in up to my thighs. That woke me up!

These animals were amazing and what an experience to run with them, sled behind them—fascinating to think what an old form of transportation it is…it’s in their blood.

Sestriere never ceases to surprise me. There’s always something going on all winter and summer AND they really know how to party on New Years! The last thing on my list this winter is snowshoeing, so wish me luck today!

*I was a guest on this Husky adventure, but all thoughts are my own. For more info on dog sledding in Sestriere check out Luca’s website!

Have you ever been dog sledding?

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lucyandthesky March 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

10 minute crash course! That’s brilliant! What an amazing experience, I had no idea you could do this in Italy 😀 thanks for the tip!
Lucy xxx

Tiana Kai March 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Me neither, I had no clue this existed in the Alps! It’s such a beautiful place to experience that man-dog connection.

Fav Reads On Italy This Week: Mar 7 - BrowsingItaly March 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

[…] Dog Sledding is no walk in the park by Tiana Kai – It sure sounds like a workout but I would love to try this out. I’ll have to keep my ears out for any howling next week as we’ll be in Alto Adige. We might get lucky and find a dog sledding adventure there too. […]

Eli J. Pacheco March 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Awesome! This would have appealed to the Jack London-inspired boy in me.

Tiana Kai March 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

That alone sounds adventurous! Yes you and the little Jack London inside you would love this!

Becky Padmore March 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Ha ha very true, I tried it in Finland and I kept worrying about the sled crashing into the poor dogs when I was going down hill!

Tiana Kai March 18, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Oh my! I had no clue it was so intense! Great experience for such a rough ride.


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