Winding through a route of historic toboggan and bobsleigh tracks, this tour is quite an experience - even without the breakneck speed and the sledders.
The words of the German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are scrawled across the wall at the summer retreat on mount Kickelhahn, which can be admired in the warmest season of the year: “Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh …” which means “Over every mountain-top lies peace…” But the people of Ilmenau have always been partial to the winter season. The cradle of the city’s extraordinarily successful sledding tradition is mount Lindenberg. The city is home to nine Olympic and world champions in sledding and bobsleigh. The most recent triumph was in 2010 by Ilmenau’s André Lange in the two-man bobsleigh. The route leads along the oldest sledding facility in the city, the toboggan run dating from 1909, all the way up to the bobsleigh hut. Christian Franke, himself a member of an Ilmenau sledding family, has been running the restaurant up here with his wife since 2016. The experimental cuisine prepared with regional ingredients “has to be earned”, he says, as you can’t get up there by car. And before heading back down the 1926 bobsled run, it’s worth taking a little detour to the “Ilmenau Balcony” lookout. The steep walls of the winding track are impressive even without ice. And even at the comparatively modest pace of five kilometres per hour, rather than one hundred, it’s worth the trip.