Volcano boarding: the ultimate adventure for adrenaline freaks

By Stef Zisovska
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A boarder sliding down Cerro Negro, Nicaragua - Author: NicaPlease - CC0
 
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Have you ever heard of volcano boarding? Do these two words sound like a mismatch? Well, volcano boarding is an actual extreme sport, made popular in the past decade. The best place to do it is Cerro Negro, a volcano slope close to Leon in Nicaragua. This Central American country is not only attracting people to surf on water, which a lot do, but also to surf among volcano ashes. If you have ever wanted to try this “crazy” sport, here are some useful tips on how and where to do it.

Going with a group of adventurous friends is even better. That way, you won’t be scared of doing it, and you can even race them on the way down. If sliding down an active volcano on a little piece of wood that goes 30 miles per hour is what you’ve been missing in life all these years, then Nicaragua has what you need. Cerro Negro or Black Hill is a relatively new volcano, only 160 years old and still very much active. The sides of the volcano are covered in grains of volcanic rock that tumble down the steep slopes.

These grains allow a small wooden sled to ride downhill, giving adventurers a unique experience that can’t be replaced with anything else in the world.

Hiking Cerro Negro

The eruption of Cerro Negro in 1968 – Author: William Melson

 

The adventure starts with a 45-minute hike, ascending 2,388 feet. Depending on the weather, you can be covered in sweat if it’s sunny as the sun’s heat can be strong due to the black surface, but if it’s windy, you need to lay on the ground not to be blown away. Strap the board on your back so your arms are always free to move while you’re ascending the volcano.

What is volcano boarding?

There are two ways to practice this sport: you can either stand on the board just like in surfing or use it as a sled. Stand-up volcano boarding is risky, difficult, and you don’t get to really enjoy the sport, though it looks better on pictures. When you stand, you can’t actually make turns like you can do when you’re snowboarding, and it’s slower than the sled. When you sit down, you make less friction with the ground, which allows you to move faster. If you have few people around you that are sitting on the board, you can race to the bottom and organize a mini-competition.

Wooden Sled Description

Author: call and response – CC BY-NC 2.0

The bottom of every volcano board is covered with a thin layer of metal. In the front, there is a rope for your hands that can’t really control the sled, but it helps people to lean back and enjoy the ride. A piece of Formica plastic is glued to the metal to reduce the friction with the ground, but it needs replacement every two rides because it gets burnt easily. Before the ride, everyone is given a one-piece suit, goggles, and work gloves for crash protection. If you ever decide to surf a volcano, make sure you have all the gear because the volcano rocks are sometimes easy-to-break, but they are also sharp and can penetrate your clothes and your skin.

Goggles

Volcano boarding is not as mild as surfing or snowboarding, and volcano rocks won’t be as gentle with you as the water or the snowflakes. It’s a complicated sport that requires good gear, a brave heart, and good balance. The slope is quite intimidating, and it’s steeper and longer than what you first think, so make sure you are prepared mentally for the challenge. Invite your adrenaline-craving buddy, and book a flight to Nicaragua. Good luck!

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