When it comes to separating the rational from the reckless, few activities draw a line in the sand quite like extreme sports. Do you think you’re an extreme sports practitioner just because you grunt loudly when you hit a tennis ball? Well, try jumping off a 1,000-foot-tall cellphone tower with only seconds to deploy your parachute, or leaping from an airplane for a little wingsuit flying. Your attitude is likely to change.
For those who participate in these sports, laughing in the face of death is a persistent itch that requires scratching. This comes at a high price, and not just to personal safety. One can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars on training, equipment and travel — all for the undeniable adrenaline rush of risking life and limb.
What are the costs associated with extreme sports? Click ahead and find out.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 16 November 2011
BASE jumping isn’t just dangerous, in some parts of the world it’s illegal. BASE is short for Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth, all of which serve as platforms for jumpers and all of which have an altitude of 2,000 feet or less.
Someone jumping from 2,000 feet has mere seconds before a fatal collision with the ground, barely enough time to deploy a parachute — and therein lies the thrill.
The parachute that’s designed specifically for BASE jumping has a larger pilot chute than the one used in traditional skydiving. It costs between $1,200 and $1,500.
For some skiers, tearing up the expert slopes in Aspen simply doesn’t offer the kind of high-stakes thrills they crave. For them, the only type of skiing that satisfies is heli-skiing, which involves being flown by helicopter to high mountain summits and negotiating untouched, virgin snow at top speed.
Whistler Heli-Skiing, a company based in British Columbia, offers helicopter access to mountaintops for prices ranging from $815 to $1,150 per person. Skiers should be advised, however, that it’s not just the skiing that’s dangerous. Frank Wells, the one-time Walt Disney CEO, died during a 1994 heli-skiing trip when his helicopter crashed.
High-altitude climbing is a very expensive pursuit, thanks almost entirely to the cost of the equipment and services needed to keep a climber alive. These costs increase along with the altitude, so climbers attempting to ascend Mount Everest can potentially spend six digit figures to reach its summit, according to WhatItCosts.com. Fees include $30,000 for oxygen canisters, $25,000 for a lead guide, $10,000 to $15,000 each for two assistant guides, and $7,500 for the gear-hauling services of yaks. There is also such equipment as glacier glasses and sleeping bags rated to at least minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, all of which can cost between $8,000 and $15,000.
These are only a few of the charges and while they’re steep, you simply can’t skimp on them. Those who have chosen to climb on the cheap and forego some of these expenses have paid with their lives. Indeed, mountaineer Jon Krakauer, who was part of a failed 1996 expedition that killed five of his fellow climbers, said in his 1997 book “Into Thin Air” that climbing Everest is a decision frequently made by people who may not have thought it through. “Attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act — a triumph of desire over sensibility,” wrote Krakauer. “Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument.”
Scuba is an acronym for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” Scuba diving was once considered the exclusive province of marine biologists, Navy frogmen and Jacques Cousteau, but now couples honeymooning in the Bahamas and elsewhere regularly strap on a tank, goggles, and fins to commune with exotic sea life.
Scuba.com, an online resource that sells scuba gear, offers a “Scubapro Top-of-the-Line Warm Water” personal gear package that includes fins, boots, a mask, and a snorkel for $410. All fine and good, but even the most experienced diver won’t get very far with these things if there’s no scuba tank to allow underwater breathing. So Scuba.com also offers aluminum tanks at prices ranging from $132 to $440. Divers will also need to be certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors in a course that costs $120.
If you’re going to confront your fear of heights by jumping out of an airplane, why do it the sissy way with conventional skydiving? Instead, consider skysurfing. It involves leaping out of an airplane with a skyboard attached to your feet and doing acrobatic maneuvers in midair.
Skysurfer.com sells a variety of boards for enthusiasts of every skill level. It has beginner’s boards that start at $395 and higher-end models for experienced sky surfers that sell for as much as $1,295.
Legend has it that street luging was invented in the 1970s by California teenagers who would lie down flat on their skateboards and careen downhill on the street, right alongside busy automobile traffic. Today, there is a vehicle designed specifically for this pursuit, the street luge.
The street luge is based on the design of a skateboard but has a modified shape and includes handles. The SPORT Noreaster Street Luge sells for $329.95, and the website that sells it offers a helpful caveat to potential buyers: “Even at slower speeds, you can get seriously injured. At higher speeds, DEATH is possible.” Duly noted.
SuperSport motorcycles are not meant for leisurely jaunts through scenic countryside. They are meant to be thrilling for high-speed rides, and those looking for comfort or fuel economy should look elsewhere.
SuperSport motorcycles have become popular with aspiring Evel Knievels looking to satisfy their inner daredevils, but the bikes have a higher-than-average fatality rate. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that in 2008 alone, 1,342 people were killed on these motorcycles.
If the very real threat of death doesn’t give you pause, there’s also the price to consider. The 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS sells for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $14,999.
People who believe their experience with recreational diving is sufficient training for underwater cave diving are flat-out wrong. It’s one of the most dangerous types of diving in the world and it’s not widely practiced, mainly due to the skills required and the very expensive equipment.
The masks, fins, wetsuits and dive lights used by recreational divers are completely useless for cave diving, so recreational divers wishing to engage in underwater spelunking will have to spend approximately $9,000 just for basic gear. Those who cave dive without the equipment risk getting lost due to lighting failure, or succumbing to hypothermia.
White-water rafting is a demanding sport. Navigating rough waters in an inflatable raft offers endless opportunities for broken bones and drowning, and uninitiated individuals could easily find themselves in a part of a river they can’t escape —a serious problem when there are high waterfalls involved.
While there are many risks involved in white-water rafting, one thing that isn’t hazardous about it is the cost. Ocoee Rafting in Tennessee offers rafting trips down the Ocoee River that include all equipment, such as a helmet, life jacket, and paddle, and a trained guide, all for just $35 per person. On Saturdays, the per-person charge skyrockets to $40.
A wingsuit is a jumpsuit with fabric under the arms and between the legs that allows a human being to remain aloft in midair. Wingsuit enthusiasts still have to pack a parachute, so those wishing to pretend they are a part-man/part-falcon hybrid will have to pry themselves away from the illusion as the flight draws to a close. Still, it remains the closest thing to flying that a human being can experience outside of an airplane.
Naturally, a high-quality suit is essential. The extreme sports website The Adrenalist recommends the Venom suit by Phoenix Fly, which retails for $1,500.