So, you can cut a pretty mean J-stroke with your paddle and stay upright in a pipeline. Beyond shooting rapids and testing the surf, however, there’s a whole world of extreme sports that are absolutely mind-blowing. Here are some familiar favorites, and a few you may never have heard of, that take nerves of steel and focused dedication to master.
1. Snow Kiting
Once you’ve mastered windsurfing and snowboarding, you’re ready to strap on the skis and try your hand at snow kiting. Use the kite to propel yourself into the air over jumps, and move at speeds pushing 60 miles an hour.
You’ll look like a flying squirrel as you skydive or BASE jump in an outfit that allows the pilot to glide for miles before deploying the parachute. This is a whole new level of free-falling, and you’ll need to have hundreds of traditional jumps under your belt before taking this one on.
Tie a rope on either side of a bottomless canyon and go for a walk. Across the rope. With no safety net. It’s an acrophobic nightmare and requires perfect balance, a head for heights, and a special kind of crazy.
4. Cave Diving
If scuba diving is no longer challenging enough for you, try getting around in total darkness after working your way through a maze of underwater caves. It’s the ultimate in penetration diving, with no way out but the way you came in, and is considered to be one of the world’s deadliest sports.
5. Parkour (Freerunning)
What began as a training discipline based on military obstacle courses has morphed into an urban sport that has moved away from its efficiency-based traditions. Pure Parkour involves getting from one place to another as efficiently as possible, while Freerunning is all about the jumps, flips and gravity-defying moves (think the opening of Casino Royale). You can do it anywhere, but mastery takes grace, guts, and incredible physical and mental discipline.
Taking a walk along the shore doesn’t sound like much, but try moving across miles of cliffs, whitewater and treacherous rocks without the use of harnesses, ropes, boats or anything other than a wetsuit and helmet. The sport combines climbing, extreme swimming, and canyoning for an adrenalin rush that’s as intense as your willingness to take the plunge.
If you’re a master kayaker, take your passion to a whole new level with creeking. That means taking on the waterfalls and low-volume rapids that you’re used to avoiding. This is high-speed, down-hill, rock-filled insanity where a capsize could mean being knocked unconscious. There’s not a lot of second chances to get it right.
Let’s face it, if an outdoor activity is hard to master, it’s also incredibly dangerous. None of these extreme sports should be taken lightly and all require years of practice and specialized training. Stay safe out there and follow your passion, even if it doesn’t involve the risk of imminent death.