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The Top 5 Extreme Sports in Alaska

Extreme sports aren’t for everyone, at least the participation part. But if you’re into them, Alaska is definitely the place to be. After all, Alaska is extreme! Here are the top 5 extreme sports of The Last Frontier:

Heli-Skiing


Imagine soaring high into the Alaska’s endless snow-draped peaks, then being dropped off on one of them, maybe with a few of your best friends. Then you ski down a nearly vertical slope of fresh, untouched powder into the vast Alaskan backcountry.

Several professional heli-skiing outfits operate over vast areas of the Chugach Mountains, including Valdez and the Girdwood areas. You can also find heli-skiing in Haines and Juneau. Read the differences.

Ice climbing

Ice climbing is the sport of climbing glaciers and other inclined ice formations. Unlike rock climbing, ice climbing involves more swinging and pounding (of ice picks) to get your stance.

As you might imagine, Alaska is full of ice climbing areas. Some climbs are roped and protected icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water.

Here’s an awesome video about ice climbing in Colorado:

Bore Tide Surfing

boretide_surfing

A bore tide is a wave of seawater that forms when the tide shifts as it returns to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay. It occurs after extreme minus low tides created by the full or new moon.

There are more than 60 bore tides around the world, but only a few are known as extreme. Alaska has one of them in the Turnagain Arm on the Cook Inlet south of Anchorage. The best times for surfing the bore tide (or at least watching it) is near the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September, respectively.

Caution: the biggest hazard to surfing a bore tide is getting stuck in the mud flats and drowning on the incoming tide.

Mountain Climbing

denali_summit

This one’s pretty obvious, especially when you factor in that Alaska has all ten of the top ten tallest mountain peaks in the USA!

Denali, of course, is the big one, towering at 20,310 feet. About 1,000 people per year attempt the summit Denali, with an average of 3 resulting in death (often from descent and/or falls).

Everything else

To be honest, we’ve just scratched the surface of extreme sports in Alaska. There’s still snow-kiting, snow-biking, skijoring, snow biking, dry-suit scuba diving, winter surfing and more. The New York Times video below explains it all:

Image credits: Pete Gibson, littlebiddle, brandibailey, merlouche19176913@N04