The summer in the Alps is a paradise for extreme sports enthusiasts. For the serious adrenalin junkies, the wingsuit flying craze, has to be the ultimate mad thing to do. However, this is really only accessible to the very elite. It involves wearing a specialized wingsuit, jumping off a cliff and in effect freeflying for as long as possible through the cliffs. For normal thrill seekers, this is probably a little too close to visiting death for the sake of an adrenalin buzz, but there are dozens of other activities available to get the blood pumping in relative safety.
Here are our top three adrenalin activities available in most parts of the Alps.
A canyon is a deep gorge in the mountain with fresh water gushing over its waterfalls and carving natural toboggans out of the rock. Abseil down the waterfalls, and feel the power of the water as it surges over your head and blasts into your body. Go for the jump, sometimes from as high as 10m, into pools of clear, alpine water and slide down water-smoothed natural rock toboggans. Canyoning is an exhilarating journey with plenty of opportunities to get the heart racing. What better way to spend a hot summer’s day!
Running off the top of a mountain into the ‘vide’ is totally against human nature and guaranteed to jumpstart your body’s fight or flight reaction. If you are doing it in tandem (attached to your instructor) you have no choice but to go with the flow and defy your self-preservation response. Once you are in the air and realise that you are flying with just the air between your feet and the 1000 or so metres to the ground you are faced with a new, slightly unnatural, but exhilarating scenario.
If you are able to relax and enjoy the moment it is an amazing experience, pure silence apart from the birds and a view to die for.
Via Ferrata with Tyrolean zip lines
The ultimate challenge for those with a head for heights. Via ferratas were invented by the Italian army to negotiate the inaccessible cliffs and mountain ranges of the Dolomites and the Alps and have now become a sport in their own right.
Wearing a harness and continuously attached to a safety wire, you climb a predesigned course on seemingly inaccessible vertical cliffs using metal ladders and holds strategically positioned in the rock. To negotiate gorges and ravines, you’ll find wire bridges to connect the opposing cliffs.
For added thrills, some of the best via ferratas also incorporate giant Tyrolean zip wires as a way to get back down from the top. Pure fun!
Sally Guillaume is Director at Undiscovered Alps.
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