13 Extreme sports to try before you die
Extreme sports are what happen when you take sport, inject it with adrenaline, strap a home-made parachute onto its back and throw it out of a plane. They’re thrilling and dangerous, and often take more ordinary activities and push them further than is ordinarily considered wise.
Even if you’re not an adrenaline-junkie or particularly physically fit, many extreme sports are still accessible and well worth a go. Safety should be your primary concern, of course, but there will always be an inherent risk in most of these sports. Here are 13 (unlucky for some) that you need to try before you die... or die trying, we should say.
Although it’s not as dangerous or extreme as it once was, white-water rafting involves padding down a fast-flowing river on a large inflatable raft, made for around eight people. White-water kayaking is a solo pursuit which knocks things up a notch, generally involving tumbling down small waterfalls and flapping your paddles around like a maniac.
- Extreme sports are what happen when you take sport, inject it with adrenaline, strap a home-made parachute onto its back and throw it out of a plane.
- Although it’s not as dangerous or extreme as it once was, white-water rafting involves padding down a fast-flowing river on a large inflatable raft, made for around eight people.
Surfing is one of the most well-known and widely practised extreme sports. It’s one of the most accessible extreme sports, but can still get dangerous when you encounter a mammoth wave.
Related: Top 5 surfing spots in the UK
The point of skydiving is pretty simple. Take a plane, jump out of it, and remember your parachute. You’ll scream until your lungs give out, run out of steam and then really take in the majesty of what you’re doing.
- Related: YouTube: Chile Extreme Whitewater Kayaking Surfing is one of the most well-known and widely practised extreme sports.
- Related:** Top 5 surfing spots in the UK The point of skydiving is pretty simple.
Related: YouTube: Skydive Dubai - May 2011
Another classic extreme sport is bungee jumping. The basic premise is that you jump from a height that would kill you, only to be saved by an elastic rope.
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Free running is basically using a city, town, village or other urban area as a playground for superhero-style leaping, swinging and flipping. No equipment is required, but it can be pretty dangerous, so start small.
Related: YouTube: World's Best Parkour
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Whether you want to climb natural rock faces, man-made cliffs or even buildings, climbing is an accessible, challenging and widely-practised extreme sport. It is one of the most physically demanding sports on this list, so it might not be suited to everybody.
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This is another more ordinary sport which can be made much more extreme if you’re looking for an adrenaline fix. Whilst zipping down a mountain with a pair of ergonomically-designed planks isn’t exactly the safest way to spend your time, extreme skiing is when you take on slopes steeper than 45 degrees.
Related: YouTube: Extreme Skiing
Mountain boarding is basically like off-road skateboarding. You ride a modified skateboard with huge wheels down hills, dirt tracks or even on skateboard parks. Tricks are still a possibility, but most people just enjoy the ride.
- Whether you want to climb natural rock faces, man-made cliffs or even buildings, climbing is an accessible, challenging and widely-practised extreme sport.
- Related:** YouTube: French 'Spiderman' Climbs Hong Kong High Rise This is another more ordinary sport which can be made much more extreme if you’re looking for an adrenaline fix.
Related: YouTube: Extreme Mountain Boarding
BASE is actually an acronym, which stands for building, antenna, span (such as a bridge) or earth. It’s like skydiving, except you jump from a fixed position and don’t have much time to deploy a parachute. Some base jumpers wear wing-suits, assumedly modelled after flying squirrels.
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It’s not much of a sport, but zorbing is an extremely enjoyable activity, and it’s pretty simple to understand. You’re placed inside a giant ball and rolled down a hill, and you can choose how well you want to be strapped in. You can be nestled in one position or left to bounce around freely.
- Related: YouTube: Extreme Mountain Boarding BASE is actually an acronym, which stands for building, antenna, span (such as a bridge) or earth.
If you like scuba diving but you’re looking for a more extreme experience, cave diving might be the sport for you. It’s essentially diving, but your exploring an underwater cave, relying on artificial lights and your ability to manoeuvre in a tight space.
For a more British take on extreme sport, consider cheese rolling. The concept is simple, head to the festival in Gloucestershire, go to the top of the big hill, and chase a wheel of cheese down it. Although mixing alcohol and steep hills can end in carnage, it’s still an unforgettable experience.
- Related: YouTube: Sphereing - rolling down a hill at 30MPH!
- It’s essentially diving, but your exploring an underwater cave, relying on artificial lights and your ability to manoeuvre in a tight space.
Related: Weird festivals in the UK
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In the same way as mountain boarding is off-road skateboarding, mountain biking takes bicycles to new places. Off road tracks with rocky and rough terrain make ideal mountain biking locations, and it’s an enjoyable extension of a skill that most people have.
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Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.