The 9 Most Extreme Adventures in the World

Posted on

From mountain biking to caving, here’s a list of the hardest, the highest, the most challenging pursuits that athletes around the world aim to tame.

When extreme athletes want to test their mettle, they don’t go for a Sunday stroll. They embark on the world’s most extreme adventures, tackling the highest climbs, deepest dives, and roughest rapids on the planet. These adventures require advanced athletic achievement and a mastery of highly specialized skills—and they are not for the faint of heart.

THE MOST EPIC TECHNICAL MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL:
PORTAL TRAIL, UTAH

Located on a 200-foot cliff above the Colorado River, the extreme exposure of this red rock route creates one of the most technical rides around. Riders pass a sign warning them to dismount in certain sections or risk a deadly plunge near an area where three riders have died.

This rugged trail, approximately two miles long, descends 1,050 feet, packing an average grade of 23 percent. This is the final ride in the “Magnificent 7” series of Moab-area trails.

THE HIGHEST CLIMB:
DENALI, ALASKA

While everyone knows Mount Everest is the world’s highest peak—though its exact height is being reevaluated by scientists this summer—it doesn’t offer the world’s greatest base-to-apex vertical. For that, you’ll have to travel to Alaska’s Denali.

Climbing North America’s highest mountain involves ascending nearly 18,000 feet from the base to the 20,310-foot summit. Along the way, expect to encounter Arctic conditions, glacier travel, crevasses, temperatures down to -35ºF, and winds whipping at over 100 miles an hour.

The climb usually takes three or four weeks, and over 90 percent of groups tackle the West Buttress route, though some prefer to hike in via the Muldrow Glacier or take the West Rib route.

THE MOST EPIC HIKE:
SNOWMAN TREK, BHUTAN

With 48,000 feet of uphill hiking and 11 passes over 16,000 feet, this 186-mile trek is one of the world’s hardest hikes. And don’t expect a break from the altitude at night: The route involves camping at over 16,400 feet.

The Snowman Trek usually takes around 25 days, with some variations available, but it’s all rugged, high-altitude, remote terrain. Many attempt but don’t finish the trek due to snow conditions and problems with the altitude.

But it’s not all painful. The high-altitude Himalayan scenery, including passes such as Gangla Karchung La, Jaze La, and Rinchenzoe La, will enchant intrepid hikers along the way.

THE MOST MENACING DEEP DIVE:
EAGLE’S NEST, FLORIDA

Known as the Grand Canyon among divers, the Eagle’s Nest cave complex features incredible scenery and caves over 300 feet deep. It’s located in Florida’s Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area near Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

Despite their stunning beauty, the Eagle’s Nest caves lure many divers to their deaths. At least 10 have died here since 1981, and the site was closed from 1999 to 2003. Its remote location and extreme depth add to its danger, and this is an extreme experts-only dive.

THE MOST CHALLENGING SKIING:
LA GRAVE, FRANCE

A trip to La Grave involves taking a cable car up to 10,500 feet before skiing down mostly unmarked terrain, dodging crevasses and cliffs with the threat of avalanches along the way.

This isn’t a regular resort; it’s experts-only terrain packed with enough steep chutes, cliffs, and couloirs to keep highly skilled double black diamond off-piste skiers dreaming for years to come. Most of La Grave is unmarked and unpatrolled; if you’re not careful, you might end up at the bottom of a crevasse. Hiring an experienced guide is highly recommended.

THE ROUGHEST RIVER TO KAYAK:
CONGO RIVER’S INGA RAPIDS, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Only one team has successfully kayaked the Inga Rapids of the Congo River, but many others—including an entire team of seven in 1985—have died trying.

In 2011, Steve Fisher and his team, including paddlers Tyler Bradt, Benny Marr, and Rush Sturges, succeeded in kayaking the world’s biggest rapids with flows of up to 1.6 million cubic feet of water per second. They survived their attempt—just barely—and made an 80-minute documentary, Congo—The Grand Inga Project, about the journey.

The team faced 30-mile-an-hour water, 40-foot-tall waves, huge hydraulics, whirlpools, waterfalls, and the gargantuan task of arranging access in a politically unstable nation. Fisher was nominated as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for his efforts.

THE MOST INSANE CAVE TO EXPLORE:
HANG SON DOONG, VIETNAM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *