7 Adventure sports you didn’t know existed

All adventure sports need a little re-inventing. Be amazed by what these athletes have done.
Lutz Eichholz with his unicycle which he uses to travel round the most dangerous places in the world.
Lutz Eichholz unicycling downhill © Lutz Eichholz/Caters News/IPA
By Will Gray

Ocean zorbing

Insanity Level: 9
Dangers:
Exhaustion, ball deflation, dehydration, death
Training required:
Low
Rarity:
10

Taking Zorbing to water sounds fun but these bizarre balls are deemed so dangerous when they go 'aquatic' they are virtually banned in the USA.

Propelled forward by running and pushing, they are hard work to get going anywhere, as Reza Baluchi proved when he was rescued at sea having run out of energy 112km into a planned trip around the Bermuda Triangle.

"Being inside the Hydro Pod is not a walk in the park; it is very hot and humid. You can easily dehydrate quickly and lose breath," he says. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened.

It's kind of like running on a treadmill. Kind of. © US Department of Defense

Muni (Mountain Unicycling)

Insanity Level: 6
Dangers:
Challenging terrain, broken bones
Training required:
High
Rarity:
9

These extreme unicycles can reach 50mph, and have strong hubs, mountain tyres and high-grip pedals. Some even have brakes.

Canadian Kris Holm traversed the Great Wall of China on one, and has made a descent of a 6,000m volcano. "A unicycle can go just as many places as a two-wheeled bike. On the flat bikes are faster, but on hills it doesn't make much difference," he says.

Lutz Eichholz jumping down a rock on his unicycle, which he uses to travel round the most dangerous places in the world
Lutz Eichholz unicycling jump © Jakob Weichenberger/Caters /IPA

Skyaking

Insanity Level: 9
Dangers:
Parachute failure, aerodynamic flat-spin
Training required:
Medium
Rarity:
10

Want to parachute onto on a lake? Then jump out the plane in a kayak. Simple. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

At speeds of up to 50mph, kayak aerodynamics are hard to manage and a flat spin could be deadly. Miles Daisher invented it and has done so many jumps he can do flips and tricks, as if it needed any more excitement.

"There's something magical about it. It's so much fun and it means you can land on water without getting your ass wet," says Miles.

Ice Canyoning

Insanity Level: 9
Dangers:
Falling icicles, avalanche, hypothermia, drowning
Training required: High
Rarity: 7

This extreme version of canyoning involves the same abseiling and climbing techniques but in semi-frozen waterfalls at sub-zero temperatures.

The sport is less than a decade old and can be done in any place where the summer version takes place that gets cold enough in winter, including the Pyrenees, Alps, Norway and Chile.

"It's stunning and it's only dangerous if badly practiced and not well organised. You just need to pick the right canyon," says Laurent Poublan.

Rappeling down a chilly waterfall. © Laurent Poublan

Glacier Boarding

Insanity Level: 8
Dangers:
Crevasses, floods, hypothermia
Training required:
High
Rarity:
10

Glaciers are extremely hazardous at the best of times, but it's a whole different proposition with a boogie board. Canyon guides Claude-Alain Gailland and Gilles Janin took theirs onto the Altesch glacier in Switzerland, Europe's largest.

"The sport is quite fun as it is a little bit like being in a giant 'wet and wild' leisure park. The only down side? The temperature of the water in the glacier," says photographer David Carlier. Actually there are two main hazards – being swept into a crevasse and sudden ice-melt turning the river into a raging torrent. "It would wash swimmers away in a blink of an eye," adds Carlier.

Two athletes sliding down a small glacier river.
Hydrospeed adventure © D.CARLIER/davidcarlierphotography.com

Elliptical Biking

Insanity Level: 2
Dangers:
Potholes, traffic, falling off
Training required:
Low
Rarity:
6

Call this an adventure sport? These bizarre contraptions look like they belong in a yoga class! But don't be fooled. They're not just a wacky exercise fad. They merge an elliptical trainer and a bike.

British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite, who specialises in long journeys by alternative means (like Australia by skateboard), took one on a 1,970 mile outing across Europe. "It feels like you're in Avatar when you're on it, you're a foot higher! Hill climbs are easy and I even hit 50mph on the downhills," he says.

Riding an elliptical Bike across the Alps.
Elliptical Biking © Kamil Tamiola

Free-cliff diving

Insanity Level: 4
Dangers:
Bruising, burst ear drums, blacking out
Training required:
moderate
Rarity:
4

Cliff jumping and freediving: two sports that you wouldn't think go together. Until now. At the Suunto Vertical Blue freediving contest at Dean's Blue Hole Bahamas, organiser Will Trubridge has decided to spice the regular competition up with some alternative games.

"We're planning an 'Apnea Games' day, with a morning of purely fun competition in events like the 'Ironfish'. You have to jump from a cliff, freedive Dynamic No Fins (horizontal distance) then do a 20m dive." The games are to honour freediver Nick Mevoli, who died in 2013.

Jumping from a cliff into the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas before diving down to 20m without air or flippers. This is the sport of Free-cliff Diving
Cliff and free diving: the perfect combination © Daan Verhoeven

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