Exhilarating or Excruciating? 5 Unconventional Extreme Sports
Once an undeground, cult-like phenomenon practiced by a select few die-hards, extreme sports like whitewater kayaking, snowboarding and BASE jumping are now part of most Americans everyday vernacular. Thanks in large part to marketing efforts by companies like Mountain Dew and Red Bull, these sports have shed a little of their "extreme" splendor, and have joined ranks with the rest of the greater American sports landscape.
In searching to do something truly unique and extreme, therefore, it's necessary to search a little deeper. The following sports range from fully organized activities with official clubs, organizations, by-laws and events to are the fringe sports that seem more like fantasies turned reality born out of summertime boredom. You decide which are extreme, which are exciting and which are just plain ridiculous.
Coasteering is a little like canyoneering, and not just because it takes a landform, adds -eering to it and calls itself a sport. Canyoneering involves navigating the twists and turns of a canyon through dry ground, water and rock obstacles. Likewise, coasteering involves following a rocky coast on land and sea. Often a combination of hiking, scrambling, cliff jumping, wading and swimming, the sport is definitely a little off the rocker. Those that have never heard of it might be a little surprised to find out this one is actually one of the more official sports on this list. Started on the Rocky coastline of the U.K., coasteering is now regulated by the International Coasteering Association, which offers safety information and certification procedures.
Moving out of the water, here's a water sport turned snow sport. A kayak really isn't that much different than a big, pointy sled with paddle, so why not? There's no snow kayaking association that I'm aware of, but some locales do hold snow kayaking events, like the Snow Kayaking World Championship in Austria. Like skis or a kayak, these dudes huck cliffs, first-track pow and perform all other kinds of nastiness--paddles and all. How else can you prepare for the spring runoff?
When I was younger, I too used to go rock jumping. Only my jumps were limited to the stones and boulders on the creek behind my house. The only thing I risked was a wet pant cuff. Climbing and leaping between rugged, off-camber spires in the Czecheslovia badlands--that takes balls. Kind of makes cliff jumping into water look a little conservative and timid doesn't it?
At this point kitesurfing, snowkiting and sandboarding don't seem quite unique enough to be on the list. Combine them into one wild land sport, however, and I think you've got a deal. If you're landlocked on desert sand dunes or the water's a little chilly, bring your kite-and-board rig onto dry land and navigate over the rolling hills and rising dunes. Dudes even manage to kick air off of the dunes. Water can hurt if you get pulled up and fall, but I'd imagine the rough, unforgiving sand feels a whole lot worse. This starts off slow, but the action comes:
When I first read the term "volcano boarding," I was thinking of some kind of metallic sled speeding down the side of a volcano on a river of hot, spewing lava. Not quite as extreme as that, but not as far as you might think, volcano sledding involves sliding down the slope of a volcano at speeds reaching up to 50 mph on a slope that peaks out at 41 degress. The sport has its roots on the Cerro Negro, an active volcano in Nicaragua. Kicking up dust, ash and rock while white-knuckling desperately at a plywood-and-metal sled, this is certainly more scary than snow-day Flexible Flyering your front yard.
Lists like this always leave me craving for more. If you're looking for more ridiculous, insane sports, try rock skiing on for size. Also, I put together a similar list with such sports as iceberg climbing and whitewater paddleboarding, which you can eyeball here.