The pain and intensity of three-hundred pound men hammering each other on every single football play just isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for some people. These thrill-seekers spend their time in more extreme situations, trying to find the best way to achieve that surge of fear and excitement they so love. For them, if death isn’t an option then the sport isn’t worth pursuing. While most of us will sit these out, for the brave and foolhardy here are 10 of the most extreme sports ever invented – proceed at your own risk.
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10 Street Luging
Looking for some weekend fun? How about you grab a long skateboard, drive up the largest hill you can find and then lay down on your board and luge your way down to the bottom without brakes along the same road you just came up? No? Well, that’s what street lugers do, more or less. Most who partake is this sport wear helmets and leather suits to prevent too much damage – but that’s no guarantee that whoever is driving up or down the road is going to see you and stop. Wiping out can result in serious injury, and being run over by a car can (shockingly) lead to death. Some of these brave fools hit estimated speeds of 90 MPH. There are places where you can participate in this sport on closed roads – which seems like a better idea to us.
9 Train Surfing
Those in less fortunate countries are often forced to jump trains for transportation, or ride on the sides and roof because of overloading. Long ago this practice was commonplace for poorer Americans as well, but in 2005 a group of young Germans began to make this into a “thing.” They viewed train jumping not as an inconvenience, but as an incredible opportunity. Thus was born the “sport” of train surfing in which people climb onto trains, "surf" on the roofs and hang precariously off the side while they are rumbling along at high speeds. If it sounds dangerous it’s because it is. You could fall off while climbing, get hit by an object as the train passes or, you know, get run over but a hundred ton train.
8 Volcano Surfing
For some, a Volcano isn’t just a geological time-bomb, it’s a place to surf. Particularly adventurous daredevils seek out these active volcanos, don a protective suit and sail down them on surfboards constructed of plywood, metal, and Formica. Amateurs attempt this feat by sitting down, but the real pros stand up. Falling is something of an adventure as you’re basically sliding down a mountainside of scree and loose volcano rock. Like the ocean, the fresh volcanic surface is surprisingly smooth, until you manage to strike a large rock and spin and tumble your way down the side of a mountain. One of the most popular places for this sport is Cerro Negro Mountain in Nicaragua.
7 Tow-In or Big Wave Surfing
To surfers, catching the big wave is the dream. But what you and I might think of as big pales in comparison to two, three and four-story (and bigger) waves that these thrill-seekers are riding. The issue with big wave surfing is getting to the top of them, thus the invention of tow-in surfing where one rider uses a jet-ski to drag a surfer to the top of a wave. The biggest danger of course is drowning. These massive waves generate a significant amount of force and undertow and once you submerge yourself into the water you might not come back up. Of course, even if you don’t drown you might hit something under the water like a coral reef, underwater ridge, or a large rock. There are some big prizes for people able to master these waves in global competitions, but amateurs and tourists need not apply.
Skiing is dangerous in a controlled environment, but for the truly daring there is heli-skiing. This sport involves renting a helicopter for $500 - $1,000 to drop you off on the top of a mountain into untouched snow where you will ski down, blind and without a course, and at the risk of causing an avalanche. You might die in the helicopter crash on the way up (though that’s extremely rare, but mountain winds are unpredictable). You might get caught in bad weather, or break a leg and become stranded without the means to quickly be delivered medical attention. Some skiers have died, some have become lost, and many have seriously injured themselves. Other than that, it’s perfectly safe. Even so, if you desire to try this out you might have to book your trip up to a year in advance.
5 Base Jumping
Base jumpers fling themselves off of relatively high places and attempt to parachute down. Since BASE technically stands for Buildings, Antenna, Spans, and Earth you can get a good idea of what type of “places” base jumpers are looking for. Most of these brave parachute enthusiasts are also breaking the law when they perform their sport in a metropolitan area. Getting to the top of the desired jumping point is half the fun for some of these people. So is waiting till the last possible moment to open their chute. Between 5 and 15 people die each year base jumping and some are caught and arrested. Still, if you’re looking for a quick fix for your desire to leap off of something high then this might be the sport for you.
4 Wingsuit Flying
This sport is so dangerous that only skydivers with at least 200 successful jumps are allowed to participate in it. Participants don a suit designed to catch air and leap from high buildings, cliffs or in some cases planes, and glide to the surface like a wounded kite, or some kind of flying squirrel. The suits work by creating surface area between the arms and legs, but even so, most jumps end with a parachute opening because divers are still accelerating in speed as they fall. Like base jumping, the dangers associated with this sport involves chutes not opening, hitting something on the way down, or being caught in an unpredictable wind. It goes without saying that dying is also something of a hazard.
3 Cave Diving
Diving in itself is fairly dangerous, but cave diving take this sport to a whole new extreme. Jacques Custeau made cave diving famous, and while on the surface it might seem like a relatively fun event, it is fraught with danger. Since you’re diving into underwater caves, you risk death in the event of equipment failure. Should you experience such a failure you won’t be able to ascend to the surface quickly and you will certainly die. Visibility is limited and sediment can cause sight problems – meaning you could easily lose your diving companion. Hypothermia is problematic and cave currents are notoriously unpredictable. Experience matters, but it doesn’t prevent you from suffering an accident. Since the 1960s over 500 people have died from cave diving in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. In fact, cave diving is so dangerous that the National Speleological Society describes a successful cave dive as, “one you return from.”
Tightrope walking over a net in a circus tent seems silly enough, but highlinging over a natural canyon might be downright insane. Slacklining involves a piece of stretchable nylon that is somewhat flat and it is the basis for this sport. Slackliners anchor their nylon to two solid points and walk across the line without the assistance of a balance pole. Seems simple enough, but what makes it crazy is that people do this over rather large canyons, buildings and other extremely high places – sometimes without a safety line, and never with a net. They call this highlining. The line is somewhat malleable (like a trampoline) and it can be adjusted in tension depending on the walker’s preference. I don’t think we need to point out all the things that can go wrong when doing this.
1 Free Solo Climbing
Rock climbing with a partner, proper gear, and proper instruction can be a relatively safe affair -- all things considered. Free soloing takes rock climbing to the next level and involves climbing a cliff (or sometimes a building) without the aid of gear. If that seems insane to you, don’t worry - it is! Only the most experienced climbers attempt this, and they usually limit their climbs to well-known routes – though that’s not always the case. It also shouldn’t surprise you that some of these climbers have perished in their attempts at this – including some of the best climbers in the world. Loose rocks, weather and off course injury (even a minor one) can quickly spell your doom.
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