Free Solo was released at the end of last year to much fanfare and applause. It is a documentary that follows the story of professional climber, Alex Honnold, and his attempt to do the seemingly impossible: climb a 3000-foot wall of rock called El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes.
Honnold is a bit of an extreme character. He lives for thrills and has publicly stated that without his climbing obsession, his life would be empty and meaningless. But although he might be an outlier, there are many people out there who love the feeling of thrill, excitement, and danger. People like this need to experience risk to make themselves feel alive; as though they’re really living their lives to the full.
We’re not saying that you need to risk your life in pursuit of thrills: not at all. But sometimes you need that sense of excitement and trepidation to jolt you out of your daily comfort and give you a broader perspective on life. You can do this in many ways, starting with US theme parks and working your way all the way up to base jumping or parachuting.
You can also incorporate thrill-seeking into your holiday destinations. There are places around the world which stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to thrilling experiences. Want to know where to go? Read on.
White-Water Rafting In Chile
Chile is home to the Andes, the second-tallest mountain range on Earth. And while it can be thrilling to scale some of the highest peaks, all those mountains create some of the most exhilarating rapids in the world. The combination of heavy rainfall and steep slopes creates waterways that are like nowhere else in the world.
If you decide to attempt rafting in Chile, go with a guide. Guides know the terrain and have all the safety equipment you need if you get into trouble.
Futaleufu is a famous rafting destination in Chile. There is a rapid here called the Terminator which gives you a clue to the type of experience you’ll have if you go. The river is fast, choppy, and you’ll almost certainly get soaking wet, even on a calm day.
Skywalking In The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, as its name might suggest, is the deepest and largest canyon in the Americas. At some points, the Colorado River runs a thousand feet below the tops of the gorge.
Sky-walking is a relatively new phenomenon that involves traversing the ridges on foot. If you want to stay safe, stick to the official sky-walking destinations, like the Skywalk run by the Hualapai tribe. It has views over the whole canyon and juts out more than 25 meters from the cliff edge, suspending you above the gorge.
If you want something a bit more adventurous, you can venture off the beaten track and pick up one of the many trails that runs beside the river. Just watch your footing though.
Six Flags Great Adventure
No list of thrill-seeking destinations would be complete without including a theme park. And what a theme park! Six Flags is probably the premier theme park company in the world, home to parks with some of the most spectacular rides ever conceived. Great Adventure is home to a giga coaster called Kingda Ka. The rollercoaster is the second-fastest ever built, and one of the tallest in the world. It’s technically a strata-coaster, which means that it reaches a height of more than 400 feet at the peak.
Mount Everest Skydive
Most people work to get to the peak of Mount Everest from the bottom up, starting at base camp, and then making their way up the final 3000 meters of grueling ascent. But four times a year, a company runs an exclusive skydiving opportunity that allows keen thrill seekers to jump out of a plane and down onto the world’s most famous peak.
Obviously, you’ll need all the right gear: oxygen tank, weatherproof clothing, and a parachute. But if you’ve got experience as a skydiver, diving over Everest provides one of the most spectacular views imaginable.
The Chinese Trail Of Terror
Hiking through the backcountry is exciting enough (thanks to the threat of bears). But the Chinese have taken the thrills of hiking to a whole new level, thanks to tours of the Mount Huashan trail, one of the most dangerous and scariest on Earth.
The trail begins at the base of Mount Huashan and then climbs up the side of the mountain. At some points, there is no natural path, and so trail builders simply built rope bridges and boards into the cliff wall. Although there is a chain for support, there’s no barrier or wall to prevent you from falling to your doom. Using ropes is advised.
Mountain Biking In Scotland
Scotland isn’t famous for mountain biking in the same way as, say, Whistler, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its shares of thrills. Scotland is home to a series of Forestry Commission trails called the Seven Stanes. The trails are named after the seven stones that mark their trailheads.
Each trail in the Seven Stanes, dotted throughout the borders, has its own unique features, offering mountain bikers challenges that they wouldn’t face elsewhere. The trail at Dalbeattie, for instance, includes a feature called “the Slab” – a one-hundred-foot rock that cyclists can attempt to ride down. Sure, it’s possible, but you have to have some serious skill and guts to pull it off.
The trail at the Forest of Ae is based on the winding, banked descents you’d find at Whistler, along with some big jumps and table tops at the bottom. Scotland is only for the hardiest of bikers. Don’t expect a nice warm put to go to after your rain-soaked adventure – these trails are scattered in the middle of nowhere.
There are, of course, many other thrill-seeking activities that you could try, from “volcano boarding” to jumping out of helicopters onto skiing pistes. Are you enough of an adrenaline junkie to try it?