Think of all those “risky” things your parents asked you not to do as a kid and exponentiate them by 10, that’s what we are talking about here. These sports are extreme enough to give heart in the mouth moments to any parent. We advise you not to tell them until after attempting any of these!
Extreme sports are a category of sports having high risk or danger to life if not executed correctly.These often involve speed, height and greater physical exertion, and usually require specialized gear and equipment.
Extreme sports have been quite common in other countries but are almost non-existent in India, mainly not because of people not wanting to try but due to lack of facilities and proper infrastructure required for such activities. But in the recent years there has been a spurt in the companies and groups providing opportunities for these sports.
The activities given below require a high degree of skill and practice and still are extremely risky. We advise anyone wanting to participate in any of these to do so under professional supervision and at their own risk.
1. Sky diving
Skydiving is basically jumping from an aircraft and returning to the ground with the aid of parachute. The activity is exhilarating and is the closest one can get to flying. Most skydivers describe their first jump as a life altering experience.
In skydiving there are basically three kinds of jumps:
In tandem jump participant is connected to a certified instructor via a harness. Minimal instructions are required for these jumps and hence are very popular with the first timers. The jump is carried out from an altitude of 10,000 ft.
Static line jump is a solo jump in which a line connects the aircraft and the jumper’s parachute. The parachute is automatically deployed after leaving the plane as the line gets taut and opens up the parachute. It does not require any action to be taken by the parachutist. However the parachutist must adopt and maintain a suitable body position. The jump is carried out at 4000 ft and generally requires a full day of training.
Accelerated Free Fall
Accelerated free fall is the fastest way to experience a solo free fall dive. This usually has one or two instructors jumping with participant, holding him as they free fall for about 40 seconds. Once the participant’s chute is deployed, the instructors release the grip and move away to deploy their own chutes. They also give instructions through hand signals in case of emergencies and otherwise. This jump requires 2-3 days of training.
In India, Kakini Enterprises conducts skydiving camps in Mysore, Pondicherry and other cities.
Aamby Valley in Lonavala also conducts tandem jumps. There are skydiving operators in Deesa in Gujarat, Dhana in Madhya Pradesh and Hisar, Haryana.
2. Downhill Mountain biking
Mountain biking is involves going off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. This sport requires endurance, core strength and balance, bike handling skills, and self-reliance. The majority of mountain bikers ride off-road trails, country back roads and single-tracks (narrow trails that wind through forests, mountains, deserts, or fields).
The trails take you away from civilizations and hence require one to have proper supplies and equipment for making quick repairs.
Solang Valley near Manali is considered to be the mountain biking capital of India. Also one can always find trails in the Himalayas at Lahual, Spiti and Kinnaur region in Himachal Pradesh; Garhwal and Kumaon region in Uttarakhand; Ladakh and Kashmir and the North-east.
Heli-skiing involves jumping off a chopper onto the slopes with all the equipment strapped on. Heli-skiing gives access to slopes which are otherwise not accessible by the ski lifts giving a more natural environment with powder snow, long descents, natural terrain and steep slopes. If the participant uses a snowboard instead of skis then it’s referred to as Heli-boarding.
It goes without saying that the participant should have experience of skiing along all types of terrain and be able to get down the hill in all possible snow conditions. Proper ski clothing and equipment is required.
In India, Himalayas are perfect for heli-skiing with abundant snow and a large number of ski resorts throughout. Some of the places which provide heli-skiing opportunity are,
Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Pithoragarh and Kumaon, Uttarakhand
4. Cliff diving
Cliff diving is a pretty straightforward sport with no special equipment required. Basically it’s plunging from high enough cliffs into a body of water below. Care has to be taken that there are no underwater rocks or features present that could be fatal and that the water body is of sufficient depth. The participant must be proficient in diving and swimming. Even jumping from a height of 10 feet, you hit the water with speeds of almost 30kmph, so if the landing is not feet first, the impact is similar to hitting a concrete wall and can potentially be fatal.
Many well known spots for cliff diving have operators running these activities with proper gear such as life jackets and helmets.
In India, cliff diving is basically conducted at Rishikesh in Uttrakhand, Hampi in Karanataka, Bhedaghat in Jabalpur and Goa.
5. Rock climbing
Rock climbing is a sport which demands physical and mental endurance. It basically involves climbing up a rock formation and getting back down. Artificial rock formations are available at various places as a recreational activity but climbing the natural rock formations is a challenging and demanding task. It can be potentially dangerous if proper climbing techniques and equipment are not used. Rock climbing is of various grades and types depending upon the various formations of rocks.
Bouldering is an extreme form of rock climbing done on short, low routes without any safety rope. A person watches from below and directs the climber away from hazardous areas.
In India, rock climbing can be done at many places in India,
Manali, Rohtang Pass and Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh
Aravali Hills near Delhi,
Western Ghats in Maharashtra
Pavagadh in Gujarat
Hampi and Badami in Karnataka
The region around Kolkata also has good rock climbing sites.
6. Ice Climbing
Ice climbing has evolved out of rock climbing, but involves climbing icy and slippery wall of a glacier. It makes use of specialized equipment in form of ice axes and crampons, making climbing easier. The sport is quite similar to what is seen in the last season of Game of Thrones minus the arrows from above!
Ice climbing can be done in peaks at Kashmir, Himachal and Uttrakhand.
7. BASE jumping
BASE jumping is an extreme sport which involves jumping from fixed objects such as a Building, Antenna, Span or Earth (BASE) and using a parachute to break the fall.
The risk in BASE jumping arises from the low altitudes which gives you very less time for freefall and get into a proper position to deploy the chute. BASE jumping from many places is forbidden and hence the sport is illegal in many places. BASE jumping requires one to be an experienced sky diver with at least 100 solo jumps.
Though with no dearth of places where one can perform this activity, BASE jumping is still in a very nascent stage in India with no registered facilities. The only known jump was made by Lt. Col Satyendra Verma in 2012, organized by the Indian Army.
8. Wingsuit flying
Wingsuiting is sub category of skydiving and BASE jumping. Instead of a freefall and subsequent deployment of the chute, here the jumpers wear a specially designed suit which increases the surface area of the body and hence provide greater lift enabling the jumper to glide over distances. The flight ends with a parachute opening and the jumper safely landing on the ground.
Wingsuit flying for the first time requires a minimum of 200 free fall skydives, made within the past 18 months.
There are no professional training centres for wingsuiting in India but experienced skydivers can try wingsuiting in Upper Himalayas. Areas around Manali are a good place to start off with wingsuit flying.
9. Caving (Spelunking)
Caving or spelunking is a recreational sport of exploring caves. The challenges that make it extreme are pitch black darkness, crossing pitches, tight squeezes and water hazards. The unexplored caves add the thrill factor with no certain exit point at the other side.
For caving in India, Meghalaya (East Khasi Hills, South Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills) has the longest and deepest caves and is amongst the top 10 caving destinations of the world.
10. Cave diving
This sport involves diving into underwater caves or caves filled with water. The techniques used vary from holding breath to proper scuba gear. It is a highly specialized sport with proper gear and skills required.
Swimming vertically to the surface is not possible due to the cave’s ceilings and the diver must swim the entire way back out. Underwater navigation and lack of exit routes also make it much more dangerous.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Goa are the places to try out cave diving in India.
11. Kite surfing
Kite surfing harnesses the wind using a parachute kind of kite to propel participants over water on a board. It combines the sports of parasailing, windsurfing and surfing into one extreme sport. Due to the lifts achieved by the kite, big jumps can be made, making it an exhilarating experience.
Goa is the top destination for kite surfing in India with many groups providing the services.
Based on the same lines as the Olympic sport of luging, street-luging is done on the roads instead of ice. The riders lie on a skateboard like wheeled sled and speed down a paved surface reaching speeds of 100 kmph. Being just few centimeters of the ground, you feel every bump and curve of the road. The thrill of the sport comes from the high speeds involved in the sport. Luging is done on hilly roads and steeper the slopes, greater are the speeds.
With its numerous hill stations, India many avenues for street-luging with the Himalayas offering a perfect opportunity, just watch out for the traffic!
Liked these? Have a few experiences of your own to share? Do comment below!