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Volcano Boarding, Canyon Swinglining to Peakbagging - Extreme outdoors you might not have heard of


When good weather arrives, it's time to head outside. But what if you're tired of the same old, tame old wilderness pursuits like hiking, biking and tent camping? Well, hold on to your hats (and boots and backpacks, too). Here are some bold open-air diversions — like sky diving, below —  that let you enjoy nature to the extreme. Just don't try them without proper training, robust equipment and plenty of "leave no trace" respect for the places you pass through.


Volcano boarding

Snow boarders who don't covet the cold and wet are in luck. There's now a warmer, drier version called volcano boarding, and just like it sounds, you barrel down the barren ash slopes of a volcano (the more active, the better) at death-defying speeds. That's right: hike to the summit, take in the outstanding views, then hurl yourself to the bottom on a specially constructed sled-like board. Cerro Negro, a young, 2,388-foot volcano in western Nicaragua, is the site of some intense boarding, as is Mount Yasur, an ever-erupting 1,184-footer on the island of Tanna, part of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

 

Canyon swinglining

 
If the playground swings didn't supply the rush you longed for as a kid, this sport might just fulfill your childhood yearnings — especially if you love the towering grandeur of canyon walls and crave the mind explosion of sailing headlong through them like a bird riding the wind. It's called swinglining, and as this video of madcap (emphasis on mad, as in deranged) canyon swingers in Moab, Utah, attests, pictures really are worth a thousand words. What more can we say? You'll either be satisfied with the vicarious thrill of watching from the safety of your computer screen or those canyon walls will be calling your name.



Peakbagging


Intrepid outdoor adventurers often hope to conquer a mountain peak or two in their lifetimes, but peakbaggers take mountain climbing to a whole new level. These goal-oriented extremists aren't necessarily aiming for the highest peaks — rather they're all about quantity (i.e., putting as many peaks "in the bag" as possible). Munro baggers, for instance, strive to climb all 283 Munros in the Scottish Highlands (the highest is 4,409 feet). To up the competition, some try to "bag" as many peaks as possible in a day or scale every peak in record time. Name a mountain range and there's probably a group of baggers — e.g., the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, the California Thirteeners, British Columbia's North Shore baggers, and even a group of fledgling New Zealand baggers.

Canopy camping

Gorillas do it, chimpanzees do it, and now you can, too. For treehuggers seeking a taste of their evolutionary past and some arboreal-induced Z's, several canopy-camping tour operators now let you climb into the treetops and snooze among the leaves. Granted, you get a specially made hammock rather than building your own nest, and most tour operators offer gourmet meals and other amenities, but this primal experience is sure to help bring out your inner primate. If nothing else, hanging far above the relentless rush of modern life may score you your first decent night's sleep in years.



Extreme caving

 
There's something irresistible about caves — how they beckon to be explored, reminding us, perhaps, of our prehistoric past. But not all caves are created equal. There are those you stroll through to admire the stalactites — and there are those that require some extra chutzpah to probe. Take cave diving, for instance. Underwater caverns can be breathtaking, but you need some major diving derring-do to take the plunge. Then there's vertical caving and glacier caving, both of which require high-octane rappelling by rope into deep caverns and back up again. Beginning spelunkers, take note, and don't go it alone.