Mountain Activities You’ve Never Heard Of

STORY BY Patrick 6th June 2019

The mountains in summer are an ever-bigger draw and mountain resorts are always trying to think of new ideas to get people to visit them, rather than another mountain.

Mountain biking tracks and parks, themed hiking and running trails, zip lines, e-biking routes, via ferratas (fixed climbing routes) and downhill mountain-coasters are all getting a little too common for some these days, so here are a few of the new options on offer if you’re searching for something a bit different.

The First Flyer

There are ever more and ever longer ziplines opening around the world, but in a few mountain resorts in the Alps a special type of aerial line ride has been created. With these “flyer” lifts, up to four riders lie horizontally and parallel beneath the cable and “fly” down together, emulating the flight of a bird.

At Grindelwald in the stunning Swiss Jungfrau region, the ride’s operators admit it’s not quite the same speed as a bird, but it does come close:

“A golden eagle swoops down on its prey at over 300 kilometres per hour. In horizontal flight, the dove can reach up to 120 kilometres per hour. And humans? Thanks to the Tyrolean “First Flyer”, they can compete with the fastest birds. Up to four people whizz along the 800-metre long steel cable at a top speed of 84 kilometres per hour (about 52mph).”

Electric Scooters

E-Bikes are taking the mountains by storm, providing power-assisted mountain biking to make getting uphill (also known as “the hard bit”) much easier, even if you don’t take the lift.

But now someone has had the idea that if you are using an electric boost to get you uphill, why bother pedalling at all? The result is the electric scooter, a kind of cross between a mountain bike with chunky tyres to absorb the bumps and a Segway electric public mobility device. Or, more simply, an e-mtb but without a seat or any pedals.

Electric scooters are increasingly widely available to rent with several ski shops in the French resort of Les Menuires amongst the early adopters of the machines.

Volcano Boarding

Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua is home to 19 volcanoes, eight of which are  currently active. The country’s Masaya volcano has been spewing lava for a decade, attracting thousands of tourists every year, but now a new sport, volcano boarding, is drawing people to another volcano, Cerro Negro. This 728m-high, steep-sided volcano hasn’t erupted in two decades and is apparently the perfect volcano boarding destination with the most daring making the full vertical descent in a little over three minutes. It is possible to ride the steep, black-gravel service standing in a snowboarder-style technique but most descend on their boards as they would a sled. Expect heat, speed, dirt and – if your body isn’t completely covered – pain, as well as (hopefully) a lot of fun. volcanoboard.com

Ride on the Roof of a Cable Car

Once it was just James Bond who ascended mountains on the outside of a cable car, but his example has caught on and now two resorts – Austria’s Dachstein Glacier and more recently Tignes in France – have introduced the option of ascending the mountain in an open-air “balcony” enclosure on top of their cable car rather than riding inside it with the normal folk.

Conscious Breathing

Simply hiking or even ‘Nordic walking’ with poles is a bit passé these days, to be honest, but if you’d like to reinvigorate the concept a little you can now sign up for a guided walk where your breathing is as big a part of the experience as your hiking.

A qualified “breathing therapist” leads the walk above the Swiss Valais resort of Bettmeralp in which participants breathe deeply and with awareness as they walk through an inspiring landscape.

At the same time they drink in the tranquillity of the mountains and the beauty of nature – all intended to create a blissfully relaxing experience.

Bungee On A Mountain Bike Off A Ramp

If bungee jumping isn’t alarming enough, how about racing down a ramp on your bike out over the side of a mountain and then leaping into the void … securely attached to your bike by twin bungee cords.

This remarkable option is offered on Saturdays through the summer by a company called Bun-J-Ride in the French resort of St Jean de Sixt. Bikers race off the 30m ramp and get four or five bungee bounces in which they can do bike tricks, before being gently lowered to the ground.

To give it a go you need to be at least 14 years old and weigh between 40kg and 120kg (we’re not sure if there’s a weight limit for your bike). bun-j-ride.com

 

 

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