The Vallee Blanche is considered by many to be the greatest of all ski runs. Beginning in the mountains above Chamonix, it descends more than 13.7 miles (22km) to the valley floor below.
The Vallee Blanche is heaven for skiers—provided the snow and blue skies have put in an appearance. Not only do you have stunning Alpine scenery from the summit at Aiguille du Midi, but an enormous winter playground stretches down the mountain side ahead of you.
The ride up the valley via the cable car is the first thrill, and once at the top you can see clearly across the border into France and Italy. This is not a run for beginners—not even experienced skiers should attempt it without a mountain guide because it is off-piste glacier skiing, which means you need someone with you who really understands the terrain, and is familiar with local weather and snow hazards. Although ski-fiends say this is not the world’s most challenging run, it does require stamina (it’s around a four-hour journey) and control to navigate your way around some of the trickier sections.
You are advised to pick a sunny and calm day so you can enjoy the views and avoid the biting-winds that can assail you at the start of the run Also remember to get there early—this is a popular “been there•done-that” challenge for skiers from around the globe. The reward once you’ve made it back to Chamonix for well-deserved apres-ski is to know that you have completed one of the most epic—and famous—winter sports challenges in the world. Perhaps the world’s most extreme sport.
BASE jumping involves throwing yourself off a high point, and then opening your parachute in the nick of time. You can see it—legally—at Bridge Day in West Virginia.
The 876ft (267m) descent is dizzying, and with just seconds to get that parachute open there is absolutely no margin for error. It’s a heart-in-mouth moment looking over the parapet to the last-moving water below—and that’s just for the spectators. No wonder the atmosphere at one of the few legal BASE jumping festivals in the USA is electric; where else can you …
NORWAY’S EXTREME watch people cheat death with such DISPLAYS aplomb? The event takes place at New River Gorge Bridge, Fayetteville annually on the Kjerag are spectacular third Saturday in October, and attracts mountains 3280 ft (1,000m) around 450 competitors and 200,000 above the southern end of spectators. Lysefjord. Norway that You can understand why governments welcome BASE jumpers.
You and authorities are slow to embrace BASE can find them there (which stands for the four jumping throughout the summer possibilities of Building, Antenna, Span, months and even if you’re Earth). It is dangerous—madness even—not lucky enough to catch a because one wrong move and you are dead. parachute display. Ifs a spec- Illegal BASE jumping takes place anyway, tacular beauty spot. from bridges, high points in Yosemite, and Sightseeing boats run from even off the top of city-center buildings. Stavanger to towns and Those who survive the jump face possible villages around the fjord. , arrest—so they are usually deadly serious
about their sport!