The holidays are generally a festive, joyous time to eat, drink and be merry. But once all that gluttonous cheer wears off, you may be left seeking new ways to stay active. Sure you can join the masses at the gym or sweat it out at the yoga studio. But why not take a giant step out of your comfort zone this year? Try something exciting and new. Challenge yourself in ways you didn’t in 2016. Because as the saying goes: You only live once.
Got a bit of a hankering for some free fall? Bagged a couple tandem jumps and thirst for the real thing? It’s time to shake the monkey off your back and get certified to jump alone.
"A tandem skydive is a great way to experience the sport without the responsibilities and obligations of going solo skydiving," says aerial acrobatic expert Jeff Provenzano. “But for those brave enough to take it one step beyond tandem skydiving, I recommend flying in a wind tunnel first. This is skydiving indoors in a safe and controlled environment. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!
"Establish strong body-flying skills in the tunnel and it will be easier to take on your first solo jump and also stay focused on the other parts of skydiving. Jump as much as you can in the shortest period of time — consistency and regularity (we call it ‘currency’) is everything, especially in the early learning stages. Continue to fly in the tunnel while learning body-flying skills. Then sign up for canopy control courses and continue to skydive with a mentor or coach."
Lift lines are so 2016. So why not drop into the untouched backcountry in style? Flying in a helicopter is radical enough, but imagine soaring over sprawling acreage of powdery peaks that are just begging for fresh lines. If that’s not enough to get you psyched for your next run, you better check your pulse.
"I’m given a helicopter to go wherever I can feasibly take it to go skiing," says Alaska ski guide Jeff Hoke of Chugach Powder Guides. "I’ve explored from the North Chugach to the Gulf of Alaska to the Talkeetna and Tordrillo mountain ranges. All of these ranges hold the best terrain for skiing in the world. I am addicted to searching and finding new terrain, and there’s a lifetime of searching out there."
Not sure where to start? Check out these five ski lodges that are optimal jumping off points for your biggest adventure of 2017.
Bomb a waterfall
For this one, we tapped world record kayaker Rafa Ortiz to explain how to take your kayaking from tranquil to turbulent.
"Hucking waterfalls can be friendlier than you think," Ortiz says. "Some are actually quite safe. The better huckers are looking at the water, the speed, the rocks and the formations. We throw sticks and create a mental line of what it’s going to look like going over. The more water that goes over, the more aeration. The pillow of water where you’re landing is a combination of water and air. My golden rule is stay away from running low-volume waterfalls.
"If it’s perfectly vertical, you want to come in a little faster than the water. If you come in too slow, you’ll go over the bars. Set your angle because it happens so fast. You want your body to be as far forward as possible. We call it ‘the tuck.’ Right after the final stroke, throw your paddle and grab the boat. Or you can hold the paddle. I put it on my left side and use my right arm to shield me when I pierce the water. Just don’t have the paddle in front of your face. You can lose teeth.
"When you hit the water, it’ll be a pretty good impact. You come up seeing stars a lot of the time. Plus, you can get held below for around 10 seconds. But once you surface and roll up and take a big breath of air …that’s the best part. You’re full of adrenaline and peaking off the experience."
Plan a first ascent
"For me, first ascents are where climbing crosses over from being just a sport to become an art form," legend Chris Sharma says. "So much of my motivation for climbing hard comes from the inspiration I get from finding these amazing lines in nature."
So you’ve conquered every route at the gym. Your crew is highly competent at the local outdoor spots. Yet there’s always been that one line you’ve been eyeing but never acted upon. 2017 is the year to break ground on that one-of-a-kind crag. So what exactly goes into planning an unconquered route?
"Completing any first ascent takes a combination of mental focus, physical stamina, strength and luck,” says World Champion climber Sasha DiGiulian. "You have to not only find the line, but also drill in the bolts. When you come to a new cliff face you always have to do a bit of cleaning too. Loose rock, vegetation and other dangerous debris need to be cleaned up. It really takes a whole team to develop and climb a first ascent. But the entire [first ascent] process is really cool; to unlock movements that have never been done before and to really solidify something as possible that previously was not. I feel such power when I complete a new route. The experience is a mental journey and a physical battle."
Captain your own sailboat
"It’s an awesome lifestyle and I grew to love the ocean and nature,” says skiff sailor Alexandra Maloney. "I also learnt a certain level of respect for the ocean and the power it has over you."
Ready to shove off and feel the breeze in your hair while saltwater kisses your sun-drenched skin? To be sure, operating a sailboat doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes countless hours of on-water training. It’s best to find a veteran mentor who can guide you through an apprenticeship of sorts. And if you don’t have those types of connections, try picking up a job as a deckhand or cook just to get onboard somewhere.
Reading the weather, navigation charts, rigging sails, anchoring, mooring … these all come from hands-on experience and are skills not taught in a classroom. So become highly adept to the inner workings of a seaworthy vessel before even attempting to captain a boat of your own or applying for that U.S. Coast Guard-approved "captain’s license."
The ultimate payoff?
"Blue water, boardshorts and lovely tradewinds," says Jimmy Spithill of sailing in Bermuda where crystal-clear water allows for easy research. "You can look right in and see exactly what the foils are doing. That's huge."