Take it to the extreme this summer
Fall to Earth—Skydiving
For many thrill-seekers, skydiving is probably right at the top of their “to-do” list.
Strapping yourself to another person and jumping out of a plane for a minute-long freefall and then hoping the parachute opens—now that’s extreme.
“It’s a huge bucket list item,” says Debbie Flanagan of Pacific and Alberta Skydivers Ltd. at the Pitt Meadows Airport. “Some people think it’s the closest they’re going to get to dying; they really think they’re living on the edge.”
Pacific and Alberta Skydivers Ltd. offers first-time skydivers a chance to experience a tandem jump with an experienced instructor.
Lessons begin with a 30-minute, ground-training session. Then it's time to board a plane and jump. A one-minute freefall is followed by five minutes of parachute flight before you can safely kiss the ground again.
Pacific Skydivers sends up close to 1,500 tandems jumps every year.
Jumps start at $249 per person, with group rates on weekends.
Soar With the Birds—Paragliding
Soaring for hours along mountain ridges while harnessed to a paraglide might sound extreme to some, but for Dion Vuk of iParaglide, it is something much more.
“It’s more of a meditation, Zen-like state,” he says. “Being present in the moment.”
Vuk describes paragliding as the latest evolution of recreational flying.
“We don’t consider or promote it as an extreme sport. It’s something that you can do, hopefully, until you’re old of age,” he says. That being said, paragliding can still get the adrenaline pumping.
iParaglide offers a number of different classes for both experienced and novice aerial explorers.
For the first-timer, Vuk recommends the Discovery Solo course, which includes theory training, take-off/landing training and a high mountain flight.
The hardest thing for beginners, as it is with most aviation, is launching and landing, which is why students have to pass the theory and take-off and landing courses before they can move on to the mountain flight.
“We go through a process on a training hill where they feel really safe and empowered,” says Vuk.
Most of the beginner courses are offered near Chilliwack, while more advanced paragliders can head to Pemberton for what Vuk calls “world-class paragliding conditions.”
The Discover Solo course costs $547, but there is a less expensive Slope Soaring course ($197) for those who just want to learn the basics.
Shoot Some Rapids—River Rafting
Don’t worry about the “bummer summer,” as a late snowmelt has made local rivers perfect for white water rafting.
“With the amazing snowpack we’ve had this season, the Chilliwack River, in particular, is at the best level I’ve ever seen in July,” says Jemma Rose from Chilliwack River Rafting.
What should people expect?
“It’s lots of waves, lots of fun and lots of paddling; you get completely soaked,” says Rose.
But what if you can't swim? Rose says she is asked this question all the time, but she assures us all of the guides are prepared to handle the aquatically challenged.
Chilliwack River Rafting offers two packages: the year-round Chilliwack River Classic for some big waves, and the Chilliwack River Canyon for grade 3 and 4 rapids with names like Double Whammy, Godzilla, Surprise and Pinball.
High water levels have meant that tours down the Chilliwack River Canyon section have been on hold this summer, but Rose hopes they will be offering tours come August.
To add a little more excitement to your trip, you can even take an optional cliff jump, cave crawl, waterfall walk or rapid swim.
Prices start at $99 for groups of one to three people.
Go Jump Off a Bridge—Bungee Jumping
Taking a leap of faith from 53 metres above the Cheakamus River is sure to get your heart pounding. However, bungee jumping isn’t something only for the über-fit, extreme athlete.
“The beauty of it is that a large range of people participate,” says Julia Armstrong of Whistler Bungee.
They have had jumpers as old as 100, people with disabilities, people in wheelchairs and amputees.
“It’s on a lot of people’s lists to do and it can be quite addictive,” says Armstrong.
Armstrong recommends that people take their first jump by themselves because of the sense of achievement people get from throwing themselves off a bridge.
Whistler Bungee offers a number of ways to jump, including: a chest harness, an ankle harness and tandem jumps. And the best part?
“You end up with this awesome buzz for the rest of the day.”
Prices start at $130 for first-timers.
Get Addicted to the Wind—Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding isn’t your typical Marry Poppins “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.” It’s the perfect answer to the board-sport junkie’s need for extreme.
“It’s a combination sport so you can cross over from surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing; all of these sports kind of cross over,” says Colin Ernst, owner and head instructor of Vancouver Kiteboarding School.
Strap your feet to a board and let a big kite pull you around on the waters near Squamish, where you'll catch big air and take big spills.
“Putting it all together can be very challenging. You’re trying to ride the board and you’re trying to balance on the board, but you’re also trying to stabilize the kite, fly the kite and control the power in the kite,” says Ernst.
But he is quick to point out that it’s not always the best athlete who's the quickest to pick up the sport.
“I’ve had people that were in the best physical shape of their lives who have struggled to fly the kite. And I’ve seen people come out that I’ve thought would have no chance, but they have a different attention span, and a lot of it is to do with your attention span and your focus,” he says.
Kiteboarding is for all ages and abilities. Ernst has taught people aged 10 to 71 and 70 lbs to 300 lbs. He has taught deaf people and people with prosthetic limbs.
“We’ll teach anybody who is willing to come out and give it a try,” he says.
Lessons begin at $200 for two hours; bring a friend and it gets cheaper.