Whether it’s racing on a jet-ski, surfing a monster wave, kayaking raging river rapids, or fighting gravity to feel the exhilaration of flying … The essence of extreme sports is to surpass your boundaries as you rise to each new challenge. Extreme winter sports are especially fun, because they let you play wild, in the wild.
It’s amazing how scenic landscapes and adrenaline-fueled exhilaration can give rise to pondering the essentials of human existence. However, winter also brings a sense of idleness and not everyone lives near a snow-covered mountain. For example, here at DMG world headquarters in Beijing the nearest mountain for winter snow fun is miles away. But with winter sports rapidly gaining popularity with China’s middle class, so too are the number of places to enjoy winter action. So where do Beijingers and other extreme winter sports fans go to get their thrill on?
Snowboarding & Skiing: Racing across the whiteness
For those who seek the freedom, gracefulness, and fun of slicing through a sea of snow, then head north for The Great Wall area for snow fun. At places like Nanshan Ski Village and Mylin Valley you can enjoy all types of extreme skiing – from endurance cross-country to ski-jumping and ski-gliding – along with enough tubes and half-pipes to keep the snowboarders happy. If you can’t make it to the mountains, then city-dwellers can still have some winter fun at indoor snow arenas like the Qiaobo Ice and Snow World.
Ice Climbing: Addictively exhilarating
“The icy, white walls; the crisp sound of falling ice; the excitement as you move up the wall and the joy and pride from reaching the top…it drives you climb more, to go higher and risk it all,” is how one ice climbing enthusiast described the experience. Ice climbing evolved from rock climbing and one of the basic skills for mountaineering. Once an extreme sport that only rugged professional climbers indulged in, improvements in climbing gear, artificial ice walls and other protective equipment have made the sport more accessible to the average person and the newest winter craze for hard-core outdoor enthusiasts. Ice walls like Yun Meng Canyon Icefall, Tao Yuan Xian Gu Icefall and NB Canyon are scattered among the mountainous area of northwestern Beijing and in nearby Hebei province for the adventurous. The walls can be divided into two kinds, one naturally formed ice waterfalls, and the other artificial ice cascades, so no matter what your level there’s an ice wall for you.
Aggressive Skating: Flying wheels
Human may not have wings, but that hasn’t stopped us from wanting to fly. Instead of wings, we fly on wheels! And just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean extreme sports fans take a break. Specially designed rollerblade arenas let you get your grind on as you perfect your gaps and spins. Hard-core blading is for those looking to take their skating skills to the next level and many indoor parks have restrictions. Skate clubs like the Beijing Tornado Club are a great way to check out the action.
The Most Extreme: Ice bucket…whatever
Skiing, ice climbing and indoor skating are popular winter sports, especially when snowflakes fly and coldness seeps into the air. But nothing beats the Polar Bears for craziest extreme winter sport. All around the world, groups of people nicknamed “polar bears” chip out holes in the ice and dive in for swim. It so happens that Beijing boasts one of the best ice swimming spots, Houhai Lake; here you’ll find young and old alike braving the freezing waters for the icy rush of exhilaration. It takes courage and a special kind of extreme attitude to shrug off a toasty warm coat and run screaming into frozen water.