Most people are content to have fun by engaging in ordinary sports like swimming and skiing. But some among us are thrill-seekers with the desire to take every sport to its most extreme level and to prove that people can be crazy when it comes to the kinds of stunts they’re willing to try.
Boarding down an easy slope or surfing a big wave can be an act of bravery and enough of a thrill to last a long time. But some people turn up their noses at everyday boarding adventures and opt to take the sport to a crazy extreme: boarding down the side of an active volcano.
The Cerro Negro is a volcano in Nicaragua that erupted as recently as 1999. Its entire surface is extremely steep and covered in small bits of volcanic rock and ash. People looking for a thrill make the half-mile hike to the top, a trip that takes about an hour, and sled or “surf” to the base in about three minutes, provided they don’t take a tumble on the way and have to be carried down on a stretcher.
Cerro Negro is steep enough that French sportsman Eric Barone set a world speed record riding down the volcano on a prototype bicycle in 2002. He broke several bones and suffered serious injuries in a crash seconds after hitting the record speed of 107 miles per hour.
Have you ever had the urge to throw yourself off a tall cliff, bridge or building without dying? This is what people who enjoy bungee jumping do for fun.
Bungee jumping involves an elastic cord that allows jumpers to bounce and be pulled back when they reach the end of it. This wild sport developed from a rite of passage used in ancient Vanuatu. Young men seeking to prove their bravery and manhood jumped headfirst from a high platform with thick vines tied around their ankles. The vines were the proper length to absorb enough of the impact that jumpers survived hitting the ground.
Most bungee jumps today are from a high platform built specifically for the sport, usually on the side of a cliff, but jumpers regularly dive off bridges and the sides of buildings, too.
Russian rope jumping
If you thought bungee jumping was harrowing enough, along comes Russian rope jumping. Instead of jumping with an elastic cord that will spring back when they hit the lowest point of the jump, rope jumpers hurl themselves off high places with a mountain-climbing rope tied to their ankles. These ropes don’t give and recoil like a bungee. The idea is for the jumper to swing at the end of the rope rather than experience a fast snap at the lowest point.
This unauthorized sport has become popular with younger people in Russia who enjoy jumping off train bridges and swinging just above the water. Some jump over ice, when a train is coming, and in large groups to make the crazy sport even more intense.
Endurance swimmers need a ton of training and a strong mental attitude in order to tackle feats like swimming the English Channel. But even those extreme athletes have nothing on the people who participate in Georgian swimming.
Georgian swimming, named after its country of origin, is when a swimmer has his or her arms and legs tightly bound against the body. It’s based on the legendary stories of Iberian and Colchian warriors who trained themselves to swim while bound so they could escape their enemies by jumping from a boat or bridge if they were ever captured and tied.
These swimmers, not content to risk drowning in a pool or small body of water, regularly make long-distance open-water swims like swimming across the Dardanelles, a strait that separates Europe from Asia.