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Archive for the ‘extreme vacations’ Category
Instead of talking about one extreme sport today, I am going to wax lyrical on an area which supplies just about everything you could possibly want to do on an active summer holiday (we’ve already covered this region for the winter season) – Chatel in the Haute Alpes.
In the whitewater sports they offer canoeing (two-strong team), canyoning (jumping, sliding, daredevil abseiling), hydrospeed or whitewater bodysurfing (a slippery, fast, exhilarating experience), rafting (a 7km ride down the Dranse) and kayaking.
Then there’s bobluging… a 650m descent with 7 bends, an average speed of 7m/sec – definitely a fun-filled thrilling descent. There’s a chairlift to get you back up to the top. The bobluge is open from 28th June to 31st August – weather permitting, and closed over the lunch hour.
And then of course there’s the ubiquitous mountain biking.
The Portes du Soleil has around 650 km of marked mountain bike trails and seemingly endless single track to explore. Using the 24+ lifts that are adapted to carry bikes in the summer, you have access, from Chatel, to almost every resort in the Portes Du Soleil including Morzine, Les Gets and the Swiss resorts of Morgins, Champery and Les Crosset – this really is prime mountain biking country and ideal for mountain biking holidays.
ffredt gives us an idea of what the mountain biking is like:
There are also many downhill mountain biking tracks. Châtel bike park is situated at Pré-la-joux and accessible by Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chair lifts, it consists of 13 trails of all levels of difficulty (including 12 downhill courses) and one “Cross park”.
The 27th and 28th June will see the PassPortes MTB event celebrating its 6th birthday. More than 20,000 people have now participated in this 80km circuit. The event takes place at an altitude of between 1000 and 2250m and covers resorts in France and in Switzerland discovering the Portes du Soleil area and its fabulous landscapes.
You can check out the link here if you’re interested in taking part yourself:
There’s a second competition on the 3rd, 4th and 6th July called the Chatel Mountain Style contest. Professional and amateur riders will compete over the 3 days on the 300 metre long “Face” course. 22 Pro Riders from all over the world have already entred the competition.
There is also a good range of climbing routes available in the area.
Plaine Dranse is an excellent place to learn with more than 26 routes, but its the Essert waterfall which will suit our readers I think. You can abseil and canyon at this 250m landmark, with two semi-wet and wet routes and six 30-50m descents. Plus the Pas de Morgins which offers 50 climbing routes of 10m-40m and with a difficulty level of 3 – 7.
Of course there are artificial climbing walls too…
And then there’s the Fantasticable…
This is for the thrill seekers, the adrenaline junkies of this world. Dizzying speeds and astonishing heights in a ride that is unique in the Alps. Safely harnessed you can fly over the Plaine Dranse hamlet at nearly 100kph, 240m up. The length of the first run is 1,200m and the second one is 1,325 and participants must be no less than 35kg and no more than 120kg.
Watch TheBukakeMaster experience the Fantasticable. I love the superman music and the euphoric laughter!
And, of course, paragliding where you can go for a first tandem flight with a professional.
As you know, Kashgar was the check-in point for the the Gobi March with contestants arriving before the 14th June to acclimatise, sightsee and complete the final paperwork.
The tragedy of Kashgar is that the ancient part of the town is about to be razed to the ground to make way for modern enterprise, so if you want to see how it looks – watch the video from racingtheplanet ,and then book a flight, but quickly… Kashgar has not much time left.
2009 will be the year that all the old vestiges of Kashgar’s 1,500 year old, Old City will be razed to make room for further civic development, new housing and business centres.
Bearing this in mind, the decision was made that the finish line of the Gobi March 2009 will take place in front of the largest mosque in the whole of China, situated next to the 2nd tallest statue of Chairman Mao in the world. Competitors will race through the Old City, winding in and out of the small, labyrinthine arteries and pathways lined with intricately carved doorways of centuries old residences. Bakeries, embroidery workshops and carpet weaving, family-run cottage industries are peppered along the sides of the dusty and uneven streets. Soon, all that will remain are memories, as these families who have resided here for generations are displaced.
For not much longer will you have the opportunity to wander through this walled community of local Uyghur families, and tread over the same ground that thousands of people before them have for centuries.
So there’s an idea for an extreme vacation before extreme modernisation destroys antiquity!
In the meantime, the first contestants have nearly completed stage 2 of the Gobi March, with Eric LaHaie poised to win this stage, and Diana Hogan-Murphy still the leading female.
UPDATE: Weichao Wei (China) has taken stage 2 although LaHaie is still in the overall lead by 39 minutes. He came in second – 3 minutes behind Wei. Two competitors have withdrawn today. Andrew Whiteside (United Kingdom) officially withdrew at check-point 1, and Anastasios Votis (Canada) did the same at check-point 2. Temperatures are soaring. Yesterday’s highest temperature was 39.8 degrees (Celsius).
Let me remind you that RACINGTHEPLANET is a unique category of rough country footraces that take place over seven days and some 250 kilometers in remote and culturally rich locations around the world. Competitors must carry all their own equipment and food, are only provided with water and a place in a tent each day but are supported by professional medical and operations teams.
… if so, please follow this link:
Peru is gaining in popularity as the place to go for indulging in your chosen extreme sport. Whether it be paragliding, surfing, wind surfing, kite surfing or mountain climbing Peru offers some great venues in unrivalled settings and no doubt at a price more reasonable than bak home.
One of the most popular of these sports is paragliding. Peru’s beautiful mountainous terrain and vast unspoilt landscape provide scenic views that make it an unforgettable location for paragliding. What’s more, low-turbulence laminar winds make Peru an ideal location for practicing those difficult paragliding manoeuvres that most weather conditions would not permit.
The video below comes from leontienkragten and shows his paragliding holiday in Peru where all the best paragliding venues were visited – great action.
As well as continuing to grow in popularity as a paragliding location, Peru has also developed a reputation as a surfing destination, particularly amongst spring break students. Peru’s enviable position on the Pacific Ocean means Peru can offer surfers some of the longest waves that are to be found anywhere in the world. In fact, such waves – which often stretch for several kilometres – combined with its reliable weather and relatively unspoilt beaches make Peru an ideal location for a surfing holiday.
Probably the most famous of all Peru’s surfing locations is Chicama; with waves that can stretch more than 4kms, Chicama is the professional surfer’s dream come to true. In addition, 60km up the coast lies another of Peru’s most popular surfing destinations, Pacasmayo; whilst the waves don’t tend to be as long, they can still reach around 500 metres in length.
The video from altubo below is a great representation of the length of the waves to be found at Chicama.
Although popular with surfers, over the past few years the area has also begun to attract a large number of kite and wind surfers. With wind-speeds averaging around 14 knots, the area is perfect for such water spots, the Peruvian coast providing a beautiful backdrop for an unforgettable surfing holiday. This video from kiteclub shows excellent kite surfing action and a brief glimpse of wind surfers in action.
While Peru’s warm seas and long waves have made it a haven for surfers, its rugged mountains and high peaks make it a mecca for mountain climbers. One of the most popular climbing spots is the Cordillera Blanca mountain area near Huaraz.
Although the mountainous region offers various peaks for climbers to enjoy, Huascaran – Peru’s highest peak – always proves to be the most popular. Sitting high above the Rio Santa valley, Huascaran offers unforgettable views of the Peruvian countryside and a challenging climb to mountaineers of all levels. The video from grillbiller shows a successful Danih expedition to summit Huascaran in 2008
There used to be a lot of animosity between snowboarders and skiers, but nowadays that seems to be less the case -which is the way it should be. The trend does seem to be swinging back to skis though with far more people hiring skis than boards this year – according to the ski shops.
However, snowboarding is, and always will be, a very popular adrenaline pumping extreme sport.
The Scandinavians call snowboarders ‘seals’ which is an apt description when you see them sprawled over the slopes in little colonies, flapping and clapping about on mittens and knees!
However, before you are able to ride like a pro, you have to master the basics. Here are a few suggestions that will make your snowboarding a much more enjoyable experience:
- Always choose a board that’s the right size for you. The board should reach somewhere between your chin and collarbone; if you are a beginner, choose one that’s a bit shorter, as this will make it easier to manoeuvre. For the width, the board should be as wide as your boots standing across the top.
- The equipment you choose depends on whether you are intending to do the freestyle/freeride style or alpine/carving. The alpine board is thicker and heavier to give a smooth ride, while the freestyle board is shorter and easier to manoeuvre.
- The clothes you wear are equally important. They should be fitting but still comfortably loose, waterproofed and properly insulated – bear in mind how much time snowboarders resemble seals please… Trousers should be high in the back to protect you from getting bucket-loads of snow down your back! In direct contrast to ski boots, snowboarding boots should be comfortable and not too tight… a definite bonus!
- Goggles, good gloves, a hat or helmet are essential and if you want extra protection you can get padded trousers to protect your coccyx and bumb.
- It is also a good idea to take a lesson or two. This will save you from many unnecessary crashes, bumps and bruises – and will keep you considerably dryer in the long run!
Another good tip is to board with friends and to practice tricks in company rather than on your own. Even if you have been snowboarding for a while and know a few tricks it’s a good idea to have someone nearby so that you can look after each other.
So get on out there – go extreme.
I thought I had fairly comprehensively covered this catagory, but on a subject like this one, I don’t think you ever can. So here are a few more seriously gnarly waves to keep you entertained…
Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia
Desert Point is a beautiful lefthand pointbreak breaking over coral. On a good day, it is one of the longest waves in the world, some say maybe even the best left in the world. This wave is for experts. However, the wave is not guaranteed and there can be long periods of flat spells – and there is very little to do there besides surf! But when it’s good – it’s very very good – long, hollow barreling, warm and consistent.
Drawbacks? the crowds are getting worse every year, you have to guard yourself against maleria, and it is adviseable to take a first aid kit with you as the closest medical access is hours away.
The Cave, Ericeira, Portugal
One of Europe’s premiere surfing destinations, Ericeira has a high density of quality surf-spots. Actually, the whole Portuguese coastline is peppered with undiscovered surfing spots, and one of the best things about surfing in this country is that it is easy to escape the crowds and find your own fabulous wave. The Cave stands out as a fine wave with all the ingredients that a dangerous wave should have, including a shallow reef. It has been described as Europe’s heaviest wave and is becoming popular with the international surfing aficianados. Thanks to ZonaRad1cal for this video.
Lunada Bay, California, USA
Lunada is a wave for experienced surfers and martial arts experts! Does that sound a bit wierd? Well, apparently the natives aren’t very friendly and the police force less than interested – you have been warned! However, back to the wave… this is a world class wave and perhaps one of the best right handers in California. It is not a particularly dangerous wave but it is a great performance wave at 6ft up to 20ft swells with the length on a normal day being 50 – 150m, but on a good day 150 – 300m. It is on a rocky reef with boulders underneath.
The main drawback to this wave is that it can be very crowded. And then of course we get back to the … locals. There have been reports of slashed tyres, rocks thrown and fist fights. Sounds like a full day out!
Thanks to tfisher29 for this brief video.
El Gringo, Arica, Chili
“You first have to understand the set-up of El Gringo. It is a full slab set-up, a right and left ledger slamming down on a jagged rock reef. Entry and exit is via a narrow, dog-leg keyhole, with surging tides and sets that, on occasion, actually unload into the slot. There’s spiny sea-urchins on the jagged rocks. Razor sharp mussels. And a territorial pack of seals. So when you’re caught on the inside, you’re left crab-walking the jagged guts and praying the sets stop pouring in. Which, in Chile, they don’t. And if you haven’t got a board to assist your outward scramble, you’re pretty much bummed.” according to Surfing Magazine.
This is a very dangerous wave as you only have 2ft of water beneath you. It is a left and right reef break which breaks over rock. There is a very big tube/pipeline to the left – at least a 30ft ride, and a longer ride to the right – about 120ft. During the 2007’s WCT event on Gringos, pro surfers suffered broken boards, battered heads and embedded urchin spines – and these guys know what they are doing, so beware – definitely a wave for expert surfers only. GreenSurfTour posted this video. Needless to say, crowding is not a problem here!
Tarqua Bay, Lagos, Nigeria
Tarqua Bay is considered to be a regional classic and suitable for all surfers. There are virtually no surfers during the week, and the crowds at the weekend are thin. This wave is a right handed break onto a sandy bottom at the entrance to the Lagoon of Iddo in Lagos and is often a fun, wedging peak with a length of 50m. The waves are at the western end of the beach. It’s best to surf this wave between July to October, but any time a solid swell hits, it barrels.
The drawback to this wave is the pollution. 60 million litres of raw sewage and tonnes of industrial waste produced by the 8 million inhabitants of Lagos every year, flows out into the ocean. Other hazards include floating carcasses, rubbish and the occasional mugging on the beach! Not recommended for travellers but if you happen to be stuck in this part of the world, going surfing is about the only relaxing thing you will find to do. Oh dear…
I cannot find a photograph or a video for this wave… but I would suggest that the only reason it is considered a ‘dangerous’ wave is not because of its force (as it hasn’t much) but because of what might happen to you if you spend too much time in the water!
The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA
And I’ll draw this article to a close with a monster.
This is a wave for advanced surfers only and is considered deadly at all tides. “The Wedge is not a wave — it’s a 20-foot-plus meat grinder dreamed up by the devil himself. It heaves, bends and pulverizes in ways that good little waves aren’t supposed to act.” says Surfline.com
When supplied with a south swell of the proper size and direction, it can produce huge waves as spectacular and intimidating as any in Hawaii, Tahiti or Australia. It is a combination of two waves that merge together, creating a powerful wave which refracts the swell energy off the jetty and creates a sideways wave that slings across the beach and collides with the next wave in the set. The result is what locals fittingly call a “humping effect,” where the set waves jack, expand and release in unimaginable ways. This wave is the best known bodysurfing wave in the world, but stand-up surfers are less welcome, in fact, throughout the summer, no boards of any kind are allowed in the water except in the early morning and late evening. Thanks to ctowersey1 for this video.