Winter lasts for a freakishly long time in Alaska. While the rest of the United States is embracing the pumpkin spice lattes and enjoying the fall colors, Alaskans are bundling up and bunkering down for a long, harsh winter. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe. They say too much time indoors can make anyone a little stir crazy. It seems that’s exactly what happens to Alaskans come wintertime. Instead of staying indoors, they’re busy trying to make their own sports — to match the weather they wish they had.
The Most Extreme Bike Race on Planet Earth
When you think about it, Alaskans got the short end of the stick when it came to transportation for a long, long time. Before the automobile made it to their neck of the woods, they relied on dogs, horses, and…err, bikes. But, alas, they made it work. While the rest of the world focused on car races, Alaskans were all about bike racing — in the snow. Using the same trail as the mushers and the sled teams, the Iditarod Trail Invitational sends bikers on a harrowing 350-mile ride. Only 50 can participate annually, but once you complete the 350 leg, you can test your meddle on the 1,000 mile leg next year.
Exactly like it sounds, glacier surfing involves surfing on the waves of nearby glaciers. It’s a waiting game, in part, because waves only appear when ice falls from the glaciers into the dark waters below, making it completely unpredictable. The combined possibilities of falling into the freezing waters, getting hit by ice, or meeting a not-so-friendly sea creature have led to only a handful of go-getters to participate in this activity.
Need a Lift?
There is a good chance heli skiing was invented by someone with too much time on their hands. Even so, it’s an extreme sport that has spawned a huge following across the United States. Skiers rely on a helicopter, not a lift, to take them to the best slopes and highest mountaintops in the far backcountry where no resorts or people can be seen for miles.
Winter Scuba Diving
Scuba diving in the wintertime isn’t for the faint of heart. In America’s Last Frontier, divers who take an extra training course can head underneath the glaciers to take in some of the most incredible underwater sights known to man. No need to worry about the cold though — divers are well equipped with special dry suits to stay warm.
Become a Human Kite
Perhaps the most tame of all the extreme sports Alaskans have created, snow kiting involves lots of open space, snow, and one big parachute. Wearing only skis and hanging on tightly, adrenaline junkies will zip across the barren landscape faster than a speeding bullet. As one New York Times article noted, it’s a sport fit for “skiers bored with resorts.”