Before embarking on any of these adventures, be warned that they are all considered to be well into the red zone of danger, and all have had fatalities and life-threatening injuries. However, if you get off on a little danger and you don’t mind playing Russian roulette, read on.
Diving with the Great White shark
The Great White shark has two purposes in life – making baby Great Whites and eating.
If coming eyeball to eyeball with the 25-foot, 3,000 pound eating machine Carcharodon carcharias – otherwise known as the Great White shark – is your idea of a little fun, then South Africa’s Western Cape province is where you should be headed. You will, of course, be in a shark-proof cage (at least that’s what the brochures say), and more information can be found here and here. The Great White has two purposes in life – making baby Great Whites and eating. And to give you some idea of the power of a Great White’s bite, consider the following: an adult male human has a bite force of about 150 psi (pounds per square inch); your average German Shepherd is around 300 psi; a full-grown male hippopotamus is close to 2,000 psi; and a Great White’s bite clocks in around 4,000.
Cycling Bolivia’s Death Road
Bolivia’s Death Road is a road warrior’s wet dream. If the thin air doesn’t sap the life force out of you, then maybe a 3,000-foot drop into the abyss will.
Known to the locals as Camino de la Muerte, and carved into the side of a mountain, Bolivia’s Death Road is a road warrior’s wet dream. If you’re a thrill seeker prepared to test the limits of human endurance, then Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, should be your next stop, where you will begin a lung-draining cycle up into the thin air of the Andes Mountains. Your destination will be the mountain pass of La Cumbre, about 15,000 feet above sea level, and along the way you’ll zigzag around hairpin bends, swallow mouthfuls of dust, and you’ll sweat ‘til there’s no more sweat left. And as if that isn’t enough to keep you on edge, there’s the occasional rock slide and torrential downpour. As many as 300 people die every year on Death Road, evident by the many impromptu altars, crosses and gravestones that you’ll pass along the way. Getting up to La Cumbre will separate the ordinary athlete from the extraordinary athlete, but coming down will separate the extraordinary from those who survive to tell their stories.
Whitewater Rafting on Oregon’s Deschutes River
The Deschutes River in Oregon may be the ultimate destination for whitewater rafting.
The American Whitewater Association has created what is known as the International Scale of River Difficulty. The scale goes from grade 1, described as a stretch of river that has some small rough areas requiring minimum maneuvering, but still needing some basic skill, to grade 6, which is described as a run of extreme danger and unpredictability, accompanied by a high probability of injury, or even death. And if that doesn’t deter you, grade 6 rafters are also advised that in the probable event of trouble, rescue is usually impossible. The Deschutes River in Oregon has rafters of all skill levels, from basic beginners to those with a subconscious death wish, including some stretches with a grade 5 and 6. There are a number of outfitters that cater to rafting and kayaking on the Deschutes, including here and here.
BASE Jumping from Norway’s Preikestolen
The 2,000-foot drop of the Preacher’s Pulpit in Norway is a BASE jumper’s paradise.
BASE stands for buildings, antennas, spans and Earth. It is the natural Earth jumps that provide not only the most spectacular vistas, but also the most challenging heart-pumping experiences. And Preikestolen, (Preacher’s Pulpit) in Norway fits the bill perfectly. With a drop of just under 2,000 feet, it’ll take you about 15 seconds to complete the drop, and after 12 seconds or so, you’ll have reached what is known as terminal velocity – about 120 mph. However, if living to tell the story appeals to you, you’ll probably deploy your parachute or wingsuit long before reaching this speed.
Rock climbing Yosemite’s Dawn Wall
The 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park is considered by experts to be the most difficult rock climb on the planet.
Just as whitewater rafting has its scale of difficulty, so rock climbing has the Yosemite Decimal System, which ranges from zero to 15, with zero being a relatively straightforward climb for beginners, and 15 being strictly for the crème de la crème of rock climbers. The Dawn Wall, which is part of a vertical rock formation known as El Capitan, is in Yosemite National Park, California. The climb is 3,000 feet of high octane, eye-watering, energy-soaking buzz, and it is considered by professionals like Tommy Caldwell to be probably the most difficult rock climb on the planet.
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