Extreme sports that are a little too extreme


How dangerous does something have to be to get your adrenaline pumping?

By Brittney MacDonald, Staff Writer

In the age of the GoPro, extreme sports have never been more popular. But with frequent deaths like that of extreme sports enthusiast and reality TV star, Eric Hill, some people find themselves asking what separates an adrenaline junkie from someone with a death wish?

Hill was killed during a paragliding accident last April. Although soaring through the air hundreds of feet above ground at breakneck speeds sounds dangerous enough by itself, paragliding isn’t even the most dangerous sport this risky category has to offer.

Solo free climbing involves all of the great views and blistered fingers of outdoor rock climbing, with none of the safety of a rope; and no, I don’t mean scaling a few fabricated walls in town near a hospital. People travel all around the world, particularly to BC, in order to climb steep cliff faces in isolated areas bare handed, with no safety equipment to save them should they lose their footing.

For those who do fall (and survive), there’s always the off-chance that they might want to try base jumping. Base jumping is another in the long line of dangerous extreme sports. It involves jumping off the edge of a high cliff or structure equipped with a parachute that the athlete will only pull at the last second. The idea is to free fall for as long as possible.

For those too tough for something as wussy as a parachute, there’s wing suit flying. It basically works the same way as base jumping, except instead of a parachute you use a special suit with a webbed sail between your legs, and between your arms and torso. This catches the updraft and allows you to glide down to safety. In both cases the most popular places to find people attempting base jumping or wing suit flying is on high mountains, such as the Andes, the Monashees or Mount Everest.

If you love mountains but want a more physically demanding sport, you could try heli-skiing. Any skier or snowboarder knows there’s nothing better than virgin powder, but how far would you go to find it? How about traveling via helicopter to remote areas of a mountain, just to jump out and shred? That is if you survive the fall, and the very real possibility of causing an avalanche.

What could possibly be more dangerous than all of that, you may ask? One word: highlining. This involves tight rope walking between the high walls of a canyon. Yes that is a thing, and yes people do it. What makes it more astounding and terrifying is that oftentimes these height enthusiasts do it with no rope attached to them, or safety net to catch them. Just the hope that there’s no strong gust of wind.

I have no shame in admitting that I’m too chicken to try any of these. I’ll just stick to good old fashioned bear wrestling, it seems a lot safer.