For adrenalin junkies out there, there are quite a few dangerous sports you can tip your hat to. At the relatively sedate end of the scale there are wonderfully heart-pounding sports like parasailing in the Bahamas or kiteboarding in the Indian Ocean that will get the average Joe’s pulse going. Of course, for real death-defiers these sports might seem about as dangerous as gondola ride along the Venetian canals. No, real adrenalin junkies do proper crazy things; things like climbing mountains without a harness, upsetting Chuck Norris or diving from the edge of space. As you are probably already aware, that last example is pretty unique and belongs to one Felix Baumgartner who dove over 24 miles, falling at speeds of up to 725mph from the edge of space to a field in Roswell, New Mexico. The Austrian broke the speed of sound on the way and to celebrate this extraordinary feat we bring you five of the most dangerous sports on the planet; each more zany than the last.
High Altitude Climbing
Currently the death toll for those who attempt to climb Mount Everest is around one death per 10 successful climbs. Rock climbing in a gym is one thing but clamouring up the side of a mountain is completely different. Not only is gravity against you but so are the freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and risk of severe illness. Of course, if it were easy it would defeat the purpose. Everest might be the most famous of mountains but it is far from the most dangerous. You can take your pick from the likes of Nepal’s Annapurna, with a record of 130 successful climbs and 53 fatalities, the infamously imposing Matterhorn in the Alps or Baintha Brakk which saw its first climb in 1971 but not a single successful one afterwards until 2001.
There is something inherently dangerous about the word “diving”. Scuba diving, sky diving, even Olympic diving seem to carry more risk of potential injury than most sports that don’t feature the verb. Cave diving, held away from the relatively controlled environment of a swimming pool, is one the most deadly of deadliest sports around. Treacherous terrain, freezing temperatures and all the problems that come with wandering through unexplored terrain (including stumbling upon wild animals) mean that this sport has clocked up a pretty remarkable tally of over 500 deaths since the 1960s.
White water rafting
We’ve had earth and air related stunts, now for the wet stuff. The unpredictable capricious nature of the sea has claimed many a man and beast down through the ages and yet some people still haven’t got the message: don’t mess with angry waves. Of course, not everyone wants to twist knees, shatter bones or break hearts, so a helpful danger scale has been devised. Grade 1 requires a very basic skill level, grade 3 requires experienced paddling skills while grade 6 requires balls of brass. In fact, grade sixers will have to contend with unnavigable waves; attempting to complete a spin aboard such waves is often thought of as a suicidal venture.
Humans have always liked jumping from things. Whether it’s the feeling of soaring Superman-like through the air or the potential danger that entails, we have always been thrilled at the prospect of a good jump. BASE jumping, as the name suggests, involves jumping, it also involves falling; free-falling broken only by the eventual freeing of a parachute. To date, the record jump is 2,205 feet off the Burj Khalifa in Dubai by Nasr Al Niyadi and Omar Al Hegelan. According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine in 2007, the sport of BASE jumping is between five and eight times more dangerous than skydiving.
Yep, kite flying, the most dangerous of all childhood pursuits; unless you count growing up.
OK, we’re being a little disingenuous here. Kite flying is a perfectly danger-free pursuit; unless you are in Pakistan during Basant. The object of this particular form of kiting isn’t to successfully keep the kite in the air, it’s to cut the object’s strings, which are filled with glass and steel. As a result, people are often severely injured by the flailing string. There have been dozens of fatalities over the years, due, in part, to the highly competitive nature of Basant. As you might imagine, this particularly pernicious form of kite flying has been banned, well except for 15 days out of the year, when public injury and death are perfectly acceptable.