Bucket list – Ten Exhilarating Ideas For Adventure In 2016
For the thrill seekers and adventurers among you we’ve selected the world’s most exhilarating places to lose yourself in a rush of adrenaline in 2016.
1. Hike Laugavegurinn Trail, Iceland
Iceland’s Laugavegurinn Trail stretches 34 miles—not including a 12- to 14-mile extension via the Fimmvörðuháls pass—through the island nation’s iconic southern highlands. Hikers traverse expansive lava fields, cross glacial streams, and traverse breathtaking landscapes with geologic features that include hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, and mountains in hues of pink, purple, blue, green, and yellow. “Out of all the hikes I’ve done all over the world, this one was the most diverse and scenically the most spectacular,” says Jennifer Pharr Davis, a speed hiker. “When we hiked it, we got the sense that every five to ten miles we were in a completely new environment and eco-zone.”
The hike starts in Skógar, a small village near the southern coast that’s close to numerous waterfalls, including Skógafoss. It follows the scenic glacial pass between Eyjafjallajökull (better known as the E- volcano which erupted in 2010 bringing Europe to a standstill) and Katla volcanoes before reaching Thórsmörk (named for the Norse god Thor), a sheltered valley with birch trees and vibrant mosses along the Krossá River.
While the trek is considered moderate based on terrain and a well-appointed hut system makes camping quite comfortable, weather conditions that include high wind, cold rain, and snow can make it more difficult, as does attempting to tackle the trail at ambitious speeds. Pharr Davis did all 50 miles in three days. She also went south to north (most go the opposite way) to take advantage of the scenic natural hot springs on the north side as her reward.
2. Surf Yakutat Bay, Alaska
Despite having the most coastline of any state in the U.S., Alaska’s freezing temperatures preclude most people from surfing its ample waves. But for big-wave surfers who can handle the cold, the enormous swells of Yakutat Bay are hard to resist. Catching the solid waves surrounded by snow and snow-covered mountains makes it a surreal setting for surfing. Alaska’s Yakutat Bay extends to the Gulf of Alaska, which spans the south side of the state. Thanks to consistent swells that can balloon out to more up to 20 feet, the small town of Yakutat (population 662) has become Alaska’s self- proclaimed surf mecca—referred to locally as “The Far North Shore.” The town’s sole surf shop is aptly named Icy Waves.
It’s no Baywatch – to endure the subzero temperatures, surfers wear hooded wetsuits, gloves, and booties, much like surfers in the West of Ireland during the Irish summer! And you have to walk across the snow in order to reach the water. The stark-white 17,000-foot Saint Elias Mountains, which hold the world’s most extensive ice fields outside the polar ice caps, are in constant view.
3. Hike the Grand Canyon’s less travelled trails
From the lush forests of the North Rim, hike along sinuous sandstone ribbons sculpted over millions of years to discover the extraordinary beauty of Grand Canyon, one the world’s most remarkable natural landscapes. Explore the more arid terrain of the South Rim and witness the canyon’s shifting palette of red, orange, and gold. Then head to Havasu Canyon, a stunning oasis located just outside a remote section of the park. Hike through a red-rock labyrinth and feel the cool spray of the spectacular Havasu waterfall as it gushes over travertine terraces. Swim in the turquoise pools, delve into slot canyons, and sleep in tents beside a shaded creek. Explore the geological formations that make the Grand Canyon one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world.
4. Free BASE the Eiger, Switzerland
The 13,025-foot Eiger, an iconic limestone buttress jutting out from the ridgeline, is highly visible even among taller peaks in Switzerland’s western Alps. Its dramatic north face towers nearly 6,000 feet above the mountain pass below and is known in mountaineering as one of the six great north faces of the Alps for its difficulty and height. Since the first ascent in 1938, more than 50 climbers have lost their lives attempting Eiger’s north face.
In 2008, climber Dean Potter selected it for the first ever free BASE (parachute-protected free solo) climb. “Since childhood, I had always been a free soloist, a climber without ropes or any protection, where falling meant splattering upon the ground,” Potter says. “[Free BASE] was completely foreign to me and it broke every rule I trusted to change falling on a climb from dying to flying.”
He ascended a route known as the Deep Blue Sea with only a five-pound BASE parachute strapped to his back for protection. “This [climb] was a complete transformation for me,” Potter says. “I struggled with the emotions of doubt, going insane, and life’s meaning, while meditating in a limestone cave during two summers before the weather cooperated with my mood and I went for it.”
5. Travel solo, unsupported to the North Pole
One of the world’s greatest living polar explorers, Norwegian Børge Ousland has been embarking on game-changing expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica for more than 20 years. He was the first and only person to complete a solo expedition to the North Pole without a resupply, as well as the first to cross the Antarctic continent alone. His team was the first to reach the North Pole during winter, an expedition previously thought impossible due to constant darkness and extreme cold.
Unlike the South Pole, which lies on the landmass of Antarctica, the geographic North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The water plunges to nearly 14,000 feet but remains frozen across the top—a constantly shifting sea of ice that makes it impossible for any permanent station or marker. Ousland was the first to travel solo, unsupported, to this inhospitable landmark in 1994. “This was the first time I was solo, and it is still my biggest mental leap,” he said.
Ousland started from Cape Arktichesky off northern Siberia on skis. He spent 52 days navigating unpredictable ice surfaces and freezing water. He travelled alone, totally self-supported, without even a resupply. “I started on something that had never been attempted before, and that was quite scary,” says Ousland. “On that trip I learned to overcome my own fears.”
6. Travel around the World on Human Power
Adventure supercouple Colin and Julie Angus completed a unique human-powered journey around the planet in 2006. It took them nearly two years to row, canoe, ski, bike, and walk the 26,000 miles. On their human-powered adventure around the world, crossing 17 countries and two oceans, Colin and Julie Angus encountered nearly every weather condition and type of terrain imaginable. Despite timing the voyage to avoid locations that were in the midst of storm season, they travelled during a year of anomalies and were hit by two hurricanes. “There’s no adventure quite like riding out a hurricane in a rowboat with your fiancée,” says Colin.
They left Vancouver on bicycles in the summer of 2004, heading north to Alaska. Once there, they rowed across the Bering Sea to Siberia, then skied and trekked their way to Moscow and on to Lisbon. Colin and Julie agree that the most challenging part of the journey was the four long months they spent rowing unsupported across the Atlantic from Portugal. When they finally arrived in Costa Rica, they were the first to row from mainland Europe to mainland North America—6,200 miles. “Then it was just a short 5,000 miles back to Vancouver,” she says. In the end, the pair consumed 4,000 chocolate bars and 550 pounds of freeze-dried food to power their human-powered journey.
7. Ski Two Million Vertical Feet in a Year
In the 2004-2005 ski season, ski mountaineer Greg Hill skied a million vertical feet in one season, completely human-powered. Using skins for traction, or strapping his skis to his backpack and boot- packing up the steeps, he didn’t ride a single lift, gondola, snowcat, or helicopter. Five years later, Hill doubled his own record, skiing two million vert in one year. In doing so, he climbed 71 mountains in four countries, averaging 5,500 feet a day.
December 30, 2010, he skinned up Rogers Pass in the Bonney Moraines near his home in Revelstoke, British Columbia, familiar terrain he’d been climbing and skiing his entire career. But this time was different. His wife, friends, and even his mother were waiting at the top with a bottle of champagne. He had just complete a quest to ski two million vertical feet in one year, an endeavour that had taken him up (and down) 71 different mountains in North and South America. “It was the most incredible adventure that I have ever been on,” says Hill. “I skied from summits into hot springs in remote valleys and spent days alone searching for my personal limits.”
Hill’s journey was completely human-powered. Whether navigating a smoking volcano or a 16,000- foot peak, he used skins on the bottom of his skis for traction, and when it got too steep, strapped them to his 40-pound backpack and boot-packed his way up. His feat has been equated to running 250 marathons in one year—in avalanche country. Despite the gruelling personal challenges Hill experienced, he says his family’s involvement is what made the undertaking so impactful. As part of the adventure, he relocated his young family to Chile for four months. “I got to watch my three- and four-year-old experience a completely different culture,” he says. “It was a cultural, physical, and emotional journey.”
8. Climb K2
After a 2010 summit of Shishapangma (Xixabangma Feng) in the Tibet Autonomous Region in southwestern China, Spaniard Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, expedition-style. Despite having lost parts of her toes to frostbite, she continues to pursue big mountains, including returning to Everest—her first 8,000-meter peak—to climb it without supplemental oxygen. Dream Trip:
Cutting a near perfect triangle of sharp, snow-covered rock against an expansive sky, K2’s iconic summit soars28,251 feet above the China-Pakistan border. K2 may be the second highest mountain on Earth after Everest, but the difficulty of the climb, the unpredictable weather, and the higher fatality rate (roughly one climber has died for every four who have succeeded) make it one of the most dangerous and elusive.
Pasaban calls her 2004 summit of the remote K2 one of the most exciting moments of her life, and the adventure that made the most impact. “After summiting, looking down at the Concordia Glacier below, where I’d stood 40 days earlier looking up, I felt this overwhelming desire to be able to share with the entire world this feeling of incredible freedom,” she says.
When Pasaban attempted K2, she had already summited six of the world’s tallest mountains, including Everest. But K2 was the first time she felt fear. “According to statistics, at that time there was no woman alive who had climbed K2,” she says. “And that made me feel both scared and dizzy.”
9. Bike around the World
In 2001, Alastair Humphreys spent four years cycling around the world. Starting from the front door of his home in northern England, he cycled through the Middle East and down to South Africa, and then sailed across the Atlantic to ride from Patagonia up to Alaska. He then pedalled from north- eastern Siberia across Asia and back home to England.
“It was my first really big adventure and those always hold a special place in people’s hearts—when they trade in normal life to do something epic and realize they’re doing the things that most people are reading about back home,” Humphreys says.
His biggest challenge wasn’t weather or physical exertion. It was dealing with the journey’s mental aspects—the loneliness and boredom that accompany travelling nearly 50,000 miles by bike. The people he met along the route provided a welcome relief. “Being on a bicycle, you don’t look threatening, just sweaty and smelly,” he says. “It really opens conversation and helps you engage with people, even when you don’t speak the same language.”
He says he was most surprised by his time in the Middle East. After starting in Europe, he rode from Turkey into Syria, then through Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. “That section of the trip was the one I was most nervous about, but the Middle East turned out to be one of the safest, fun, and welcoming places I had ever been to, which boosted my confidence for the rest of the journey,” he says.
10. Go Skydiving
You don’t have to take a course in skydiving to experience parachuting. Most skydiving centres offer tandem jumps, where first timers leap from a plane while harnessed to a skydiving professional. It is one of the most accessible adventures and adrenaline rush that anyone can do as well as being one the original extreme sports. It also highly regulated, very safe, and controlled. For the most visually stunning tandem skydiving experience, we recommend Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.
The name “Lauterbrunnen” means “many fountains,” referring to the 72 waterfalls spread throughout the scenic valley. A family-run operation called Skydive Xdream pilots a state-of-the-art, high-altitude helicopter past some of the most recognizable peaks in the western Swiss Alps, including Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger. The tandem jump happens at about 12,000 feet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley.