In the Bavaria region of Germany there is a 35 million ton manmade sand dune called Monte Kaolino. Skiing began on Mounte Kaolino in the summer of 1956 after enough sand had been piled up to make some downhill turns. Today the hill is the latest sand ski resort in the world and home to the Sandboarding World Championships. Atlas Obscura gives us the full story on how Monte Kaolino became a summer ski area.
Monte Kaolino is a 110 meter high man-made mountain consisting of roughly 35 million tons quartz sand.
While Kaolinite has been mined in Hirschau, Bavaria, since 1833 it was in 1901 when Amberger Kaolinwerk began mining Kaolinite — one of the most common minerals, a clay-like layered silicate, used in ceramics, medicine, coated paper, food additives, in toothpaste, and is the main ingredient in porcelain — they found themselves with a problem. In the process of separating the Kaolinite from the dirt they ended up with a lot of left over quartz sand. So they started piling it up.
By the early 1950s the pile had grown large enough that a skier wanting to practice in the summer, brought his poles to the mountain, and began doing skiing down the enormous pile. By 1956 there was a ski club dedicated to skiing down the quartz sand mountain.
Today, although the mountain has stopped growing — it turns out quartz sand is good for a whole bunch of things — it continues to host skiers, the Monte Kaolino Railway a 200 meter long cable car with boat shaped wagons, a “Dune Pool” including a 50 m – water slide, and 1,000 meter Alpine-Coaster that zooms riders down the giant slag heap. In addition to all this, Monte Kaolino is also home to the Sandboarding World Championships, in which many of the smae types of winter boarding competitions are held, but on sand. Speeds of up to 60 mph have been clocked.
Because it is one of the few warm skiing spots, one can even ski in their swimwear, should they choose to.
If you don’t feel like traveling all the way to Germany you can go sand skiing right here in the good old USofA in the deserts of Nevada. Here is an Unofficial Video by Seth Lightcap doing some sandboading and skiing outside Fallon, Nv.