If afternoons at the basketball court just aren’t doing it for you anymore, maybe you need to look into something a little more exciting. Sports like basketball, baseball and soccer certainly get your blood pumping, but they don’t set off that rush that you’re looking for. If you’re one of the many who desires a rush of adrenaline through an activity that requires extreme bravery and a desire to live life on the edge, the world of extreme outdoor sports is calling your name.
Sports like free climbing, BASE jumping and whitewater rafting test both your mental and physical capabilities, are often life-threatening and require a certain type of person to fully enjoy them. If you think you’re one of these people, look no further for a handful of adventures that will get your blood pumping this year.
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Free Solo Climbing
Have you ever gone to an indoor rock climbing wall where they strap you into harnesses so extreme that it’s virtually impossible to fall or hurt yourself? The rocks jut out of the wall at perfect intervals so that there’s always somewhere to put your hands and feet, and the wall really isn’t that high anyway. Now imagine this: you’re scaling a real wall, with rocks that are jutting out naturally and may not be in the right place at the right time, and you have no ropes, no chains, no harnesses, nothing. It’s just you, a wall of rocks, and the ground – hundreds of feet below you. Are you getting nervous yet? This sport is reserved for only the most skilled (and possibly insane) rock climbers, because no matter how many years you’ve been climbing one wrong move can send you falling to the ground at an alarming rate. If you want an adrenaline rush without such an extreme risk of dying, free climbing may be a better choice.
Free climbing works out your muscles and tests your endurance, yet offers aid that reduces the risk of injury. Ropes, harnesses and other climbing equipment can be used to protect yourself from falls, but they cannot be used to aid the actual climbing experience. Getting up the side of the rock wall is up to you and your own muscle strength, but the adrenaline rush that comes from slipping or missing a rock is still present.
BASE jumping is actually an acronym that stands for building, antenna, span, and Earth. These four things refer to the four types of structures that BASE jumpers can propel themselves off of. Many people BASE jump to experience the extreme adrenaline rush that comes from the feeling of free falling before the parachute expands above you. Some people actually wear wingsuits when BASE jumping, which are essentially bodysuits that have excess fabric under the arms and between the legs. This excess fabric increases the amount of surface area of the body which decreases the speed of the fall. It’s essentially like wearing a jumpsuit that turns you into a bird except you don’t have wings to flap; you must keep your arms and legs spread so that the surface area remains the same. Even when BASE jumpers wear a wingsuit, they still have a parachute that deploys in order to allow them to land safely.
Skydiving is an especially popular extreme sport, due to the fact that skydivers can be strapped to a licensed professional while falling. Beginners get specific instructions before tandem skydiving, including the process of free falling, deploying the parachute and finally landing. In this type of skydiving, the instructor wears the parachute while the student is strapped to the instructor via a harness. In order to be able to skydive without an instructor, you’ll need to become a licensed skydiver. This requires training in accelerated freefalling, which is where a student jumps with two instructors and deploys his or her own parachute. At an intermediate level the student will only jump with one instructor, and then will finally complete at least 25 jumps of their own before getting a USPA A license. A combination of jumps with instructors, solo jumping and ground training is required.
Whitewater rafting is both dangerous and exhilarating, requiring you to paddle through life-threatening rapids. Since you’re dealing with unpredictable water, you’ll need to have experience in rafting before participating in more extreme courses. As the name suggests, you’re on an inflatable raft and required to navigate a river or other bodies of water of varying intensities. There are six different difficulty ratings, ranging from Class 1 to Class 6. Class one consists of almost flat water with very little rapids, requiring very little steering and no previous knowledge. Class 6, on the other hand, consists of bodies of water that are nearly impossible to navigate, consisting of extremely violent rapids or waterfalls. If you prefer not to go in a group, whitewater kayaking may be a better alternative for you.
Cave diving is not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart. It is essentially diving in caves that are underwater, which requires knowledge of scuba diving. It is an extension of both caving and scuba diving, and requires specialized knowledge of each. This sport is particularly challenging, because in the case of an emergency the diver cannot simply swim straight up to the surface. Due to the nature of the caves, the diver must backtrack the entire way out. This increases the risk of decompression and drowning if there are any problems with the scuba equipment. The caves are often extremely dark, requiring the use of external artificial light. Although the sport is dangerous, those with enough specialized training can successfully cave dive and explore fascinating, unknown parts of the ocean.
None of these sports are ideal for the inexperienced or those who aren’t athletically inclined. Many require extreme physical strength and stamina, so training is important before getting involved with one of these extreme outdoor sports. If you think you’re up for the challenge, check out one of the many courses Udemy has to offer on strength and fitness training.