extreme-sports

10 extreme activities (and their juiced up counterparts)

Sep 12 • Features • 3451 Views • No Comments on 10 extreme activities (and their juiced up counterparts)

1. Skydive / Base Jump

skydivers

What is it?

Jumping out of a plane with a tarpaulin strapped to you. Surely you’ve heard of it? It’s one of the most popular “extreme” sports and on many people’s to-do list, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) you can’t brave this feat alone on your first go. You’ll have to do it tandem first, that’s with an instructor strapped to you to make sure you don’t forget to pull the cord. Going solo takes time so you can expect to have to do a couple of dozen jumps with a partner before you’re let off the leash.

Juice me up!

Why not try base jumping? Essentially it’s skydiving from a fixed object such as a building or a cliff. You may not reach terminal velocity because you’ll be closer to the ground when you jump, but the exhilaration factor is cranked right up – you have less control and less time to think/manoeuvre and for adrenaline junkies this = more fun.

Where should I do it?

There are so many great places to choose from – Mount Everest, The Fox Glacier in New Zealand, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Dubai, Pattaya in Thailand – it really depends on what you want to see while you’re falling.

2. Climbing / free climbing

climing-extreme

What is it?

Climbing of any form is pretty exhilarating – even those plastic climbing towers you find at fairgrounds can provide a bit of a buzz if you’re new to the experience. The key lies in the unpredictable nature of the occasion – while most climbers would likely be tethered in some way so a slip doesn’t prove fatal, you still have to overcome even a mild inherent fear of heights and the fact that your hand or foot could slip, or handhold give way at any time.

Juice me up!

It’s fair to say free climbing is not for wimps. In fact it’s probably not for anyone who considers themselves sane – but for a select few, knowing that if you fall you’ll be safely dangling from a tether instead of plummeting to your doom just doesn’t quite get the blood racing quickly enough. Free climbers do all of the above but without ropes, and in the case of notorious daredevils like Alain Robert turn their hand to sheer glass towers and obstacles that make Ethan Hunt look like an amateur.

Where should I do it?

That depends if you want difficulty or beauty. For the former, El Capitan at Yosemite National Park is the largest exposed granite monolith in the world with a sheer vertical ascent, or there’s La Dura Dura in Oliana, Spain, known as the hardest sport climb on the planet. For scenery and a slightly easier ride, try Kalymnos Island in Greece for some stunning island views, or if you’re fairly new to the sport, Wharepapa in New Zealand has a range of climbs of varying difficulty.

3. Scuba / cave diving

cave-diving

What is it?

The best way to see some of the most beautiful underwater sights in the world of course, but it’s one “sport” that, practice aside, you really need to be in the right place to get the most out of it. From exploring coral reefs to swimming with dolphins to more adventurous exploits such as to wreck diving and swimming with sharks, there’s something here for all the family.

Juice me up!

You could always try a Subwing. And why not go cave diving? It’s not as tame as it sounds – in fact it can be quite hairy. There’s nobody to advise you as to what to expect and if you get in trouble you can’t just swim straight back up to the surface, but your rewards include the fact that a lot of them are largely unexplored, so you could be seeing things no human has ever seen before, and since many are only partially filled with water there are some pretty spectacular subterranean sights to see.

Where should I do it?

So many places to choose from, including various locations on and around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Cayman Islands, Maldives, Malaysia, pretty much anywhere that sounds like a paradise location seems to continue this trend underwater.

When it comes to Cave Diving, the Great Blue Hole at Belize’s Lighthouse Reef is a perfectly circular limestone sinkhole 412 feet deep; popular with scuba divers after their PADI Deep Diver certification. Mexico’s Blue Abyss offers jaw-dropping visuals, and the “blue holes” in the Bahamas is a network of complex tunnels. For the less experienced, try the Sistema Sac Aktun in Mexico, which offers stunning natural beauty on a beginner-friendly stage.

4. Whitewater rafting / kayaking

Whitewater

What is it?

Like a thrill ride at an amusement park with the added bonus of actually being in control of your vessel, at least to a degree, along with the unpredictable nature of powerful tides of water. Usually done in a team of at least three people in a giant inflatable dingy, with one steering from the stern and the others paddling as necessary to move left or right, it’s one of the few here that varies wildly in difficulty from tranquil to downright dangerous.

Juice me up!

Aside from taking on Grade 6 rapids, described as “so dangerous they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis” you could try Whitewater kayaking, where you can travel on your own in a craft that’s far less pliable and therefore far easier to tip or roll, and more difficult to control, but as a sole venture for the adrenaline-freak, far more fulfilling.

Where should I do it?

For difficulty, Tibet’s Tsangpo River is known as the “Everest of rivers” for a reason. The Ganges in India is actually home to Bull Sharks and if that’s not enough, part of the Congo named the “Gates of Hell” is a 75-mile stretch of some of the most brutal rapids in the world.

For scenery, the Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers in Alaska/Canada respectively offer stunning mountain and iceberg views, there’s the Grand Canyon of course and the Rio Futaleufu, which runs from Argentina to Chile with its breathtaking Amazonian backdrop.

5. Surfing / train surfing

Surfing

What is it?

Uh… you stand on a board and there are like, waves and stuff. Surfing. That’s the one – a time honoured way for peaceful earthy folk to find their chi in the morning and just about the polar opposite of the ethos of the 9-5 desk-job lifestyle. Surfing is one of the oldest and purest forms of eliciting that vital adrenaline needed to make you feel like you’re alive, and one of the few ways to gain this through a simultaneous sense of calm.

Juice me up!

Aside from what can be best described as extreme surfing – in other words things like jumping into sub-zero temperatures and building your own cabin to help you survive a nine month surf-expedition in the middle of nowhere, there is, I guess, train surfing. An adequate description of this lunacy varies from hitching a ride on the roof of a train to save on a fare to intentionally choosing a high-speed train to try and balance on – certainly not for the faint hearted.

Where should I do it?

Again – where to start? You could go with iconic destinations like Bondi or Bells beach in Australia or the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Santa Cruz in California is known for both its difficulty with the waves and the natives who don’t like you gettin’ up in their grill, and Playa Naranjo in Costa Rica is known for its consistency year round. As for train surfing, the 17:35 during rush hour out of London Waterloo is… ok, let’s not go there.

6. Motorcycle / freestyle motocross

Motorcycle

What is it?

Anything you want it to be – you could take a peaceful tour of an idyllic location simply to enjoy the ride or step things up a notch and try dirt biking off-terrain for a bit more of a thrill. Whichever level you choose to crank it up to, riding a bike, unlike taking the car, can be a real experience, and one that can excite and exhilarate in equal measure.

Juice me up!

And then there’s Freestyle Motocross, which takes the adrenaline factor up to 11. These guys are literally professional stuntmen, who require extreme levels of precision and coordination to avoid crashing and burning, Ghost Rider style, into a quivering heap of bones and machinery.

Where should I do it?

It depends on what you want to do. Wanna race? Try the Nurburgring in Germany. Looking for scenery? The Amalfi Coast in Italy is widely recognized as one of the greatest in the world. For a mix of challenge and beautiful backdrops, the Los Caracoles Pass between Chile and Argentina has it all. And for dirt biking the Fort William Downhill Track on the Nevis Range in Scotland is one of the most physically demanding in the world.

7. Skiing / heli skiing

skiing

What is it?

Skiing is the surfing of the land. Well, technically snowboarding is the surfing of the land, and is it really “land”? Let’s not descend into pedantry. It still shares many of the same appeals, namely a synergy between man and nature, and equal parts appreciation of an environment and the exhilaration of smooth, rhythmic movement at speed.

Juice me up!

Aside from the typical dangers that can be associated with off-piste exploits, heli-skiing, my friend. This is the process of elevating you to possibly uncharted slopes via the medium of helicopter, so that you can traverse untouched powder at your peril, and of course experience vistas the likes of which have never been seen by a typical ski-resort lift-goer.

Where should I do it?

Pick any of the classic destinations – Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Colorado? We can tell you that the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort in British Columbia won the top spot in Forbes magazine’s “World’s Best Ski Resorts” piece for its 8,100 acres of skiable terrain and breathtaking views, so let’s go with that.

When it comes to Heli-skiing, all bets are off. Now we’re talking Alaska, The Andes, the kind of places that command access to 1,900 square miles of terrain and 20,000ft of vertical descent.

8. Paragliding / Wingsuit

Paraglide

What is it?

It’s like a parachute jump that’s very long and drawn out, and involves actually trying to stay up in the air for as long as you can instead of simply looking to land safely. Paragliders wear a long, wing-shaped parachute and are pulled up into the air by boats, cars or simply by using good old fashioned legwork to run along the ground and catch the wind. There’s a full-on set of controls, including left, right, brake and accelerate, and if you’re lucky you could stay in the air for hours and cover hundreds of kilometres.

Juice me up!

Why not strap on a wingsuit? It’s a suit with fabric that stretches between the legs and under the arms to give you the appearance of a flying squirrel, and is usually used when skydiving or base jumping to help you fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Actually it’s not very easy at all – Sky Dive associations recommend a minimum of 200 free falls before you can even put one on, so you better know what you’re doing.

Where should I do it?

It’s not quite as simple as “anywhere with nice scenery” for paragliders as they also need a fairly good chance of wind, so blustery locations are a definite plus. France has the most sites in the world and Chamonix / Mont Blanc are very popular, with fantastic views. Babadag (Olüdeniz) in Turkey offers an idyllic beach and lagoon location. The Dolomites in Italy, Queenstown New Zealand and Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique are pretty great choices for unspoiled natural settings.

9. Zipwire / high lining

zip

What is it?

Zipwires vary from fun ways to get down from trees to a pretty serious excuse for an adrenaline rush – you’re strapped to a pulley which is attached to a wire and then you simply slide down it, with very little control over anything else except for doing what you can to enjoy the sights on the way.

Juice me up!

Highlining, or slacklining as it’s known, is about as extreme as it gets, and the practice of doing this at any height over a few feet, especially without a safety harness, is strictly reserved for lunatics. Essentially you’re walking a tightrope, as popularised by Philippe Petit in the excellent Man on a Wire, though it’s been translated for the sane generation by using safety nets or simply tying a rope between two trees.

Where should I do it?

Zip World in Wales offers the longest zip wire in the northern hemisphere at a mile and the fastest in the world, as you speed along up to 700 feet off the ground at up to 100mph. There’s the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line in Florida, which transports you over a pool of 130 hungry ‘gators, and the Aerial Bicycle in Ecuador actually has you pedalling along while you take in the stunning views.

As for high lining, why not start by tying a rope between trees a few feet off the ground.

10. Parkour (Free running)

Parkour

What is it?

The art of running very fast while seamlessly traversing obstacles without breaking your stride. It’s been popularised in recent times through a handful of movies and an inordinate number of YouTube videos showcasing some pretty jaw dropping moves.

Juice me up!

It juices itself up – you simply move on to “extreme parkour”, which is essentially parkour that’s more risky but in theory, delivers a bigger buzz. Like many extreme activities, it seems a natural transition for free runners to seek more and more difficult terrain until their instinct for self-preservation takes over or they get injured. That, or find some zombies to chase you.

Where should I do it?

Anywhere you like – that’s the beauty of it. London, Paris, Bangkok and Tokyo often feature widely in videos because their environment is so diverse, and importantly filled with obstacles. If you’re looking to “get started” though, experts recommend beginning with a soft field so you can practice rolls, before moving on to playgrounds with park benches and railings and such – the world is your playground.

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