EXTREME SPORTS CAPITAL OF EUROPE.

Seriously Switzerland, you need to be kinder to your fellow neighbors.
The sheer awesomeness of you is really making the surrounding countries jealous.

Your natural beauty is impeccable and your cities are super clean.
Your chocolate is top quality(although Belgium might have you beat) and your transportation is always punctual.
But most of all you have the funnest activities through all of Europe.

The 1st time I went to Switzerland I was mostly showing up to take in the amazing surroundings and do some hiking.
Little did I know that Interlaken, Switzerland was pretty much in a race against Queenstown, New Zealand to see who could become the extreme sports capital of the world.
Once I found out about all the amazing/crazy things you could do there I knew I’d have to return and stay much longer.
I’d stay for as long as it took to do almost every damn thing that was offered.
In fact that’s exactly what I did 1 year later.

Coming back to Switzerland I had one goal in mind: DON’T DIE!
That should be a daily goal anyways, but I knew I was going to be jumping out of and off of so much stuff.
Therefore I made it a strong point to really follow through on that goal.

The year before, I collected a bunch of brochures that showed all the activities I could do.
So I had everything priced out and ready for when I arrived.
After I checked into my room at the great Balmer’s Hostel I went right to their other receptionist that would help you set up all your activities.
For the next 8 days I was over there everyday setting up something new.
People at the hostel actually started calling me Mr. Interlaken.

Day 1: PARAGLIDING(Tandem).

So relaxing.

Interlaken, Switzerland. Extreme Sports Capital of Europe.
Basically run down the hill until the wind catches the chute.

This was something I could see myself learning how to do professionally just because it was so peaceful.
It’s nice and quite up there catching different wind currents, floating around with ease and that amazing view.
Definitely the best way to get a full panorama of your surroundings.

Relaxing over Interlaken.
Relaxing over Interlaken.

Day 2: SKYDIVING(Tandem).

Skydiving is probably the most well known of extreme sports and this was the 2nd time I’ve jumped from a plane.
The 1st time was back home in Arizona, but I had to do it here in Switzerland because we’d be jumping over the Swiss Alps and I knew this jump would probably be better than anywhere else in the world.

Skydiving - the king of extreme sports.
THAT VIEW!!!

There were 3 different skydiving options:
1. 12,000ft from a Helicopter.
2. 13,000ft from a Plane.
3. 15,000ft from a Plane.

Now I’ve already jumped 13,000ft so I didn’t want to do that again.
However I’ve never been in a Helicopter, so naturally I wanted to jump out of one.
Apparently they needed more than 1 person that wanted to jump from the Helicopter to be able to take it up.

That only left me with the 15,000ft jump that one other person was taking(everyone else was doing 13,000ft).
I was definitely OK with this option, because I’ve always wanted to go higher and they only charged me the 13,000ft price.
The instructor I was jumping with actually got his license in Eloy, Arizona where I did my 1st jump.
He told me this jump would be 10x better than that.
He was certainly correct.

Worth every penny.
Worth every penny.

The main thing I can take away from this experience is that skydiving anywhere else in the world will pale in comparison to skydiving over the Swiss Alps.
We barrel rolled out of the plane and then when we straightened out we were falling through thin clouds and doing some spins.
Once we pulled the chute and I could finally look around the view nearly took my breath away.

My 1st jump will definitely stay with me, but one thing I noticed from it was that we were falling so fast around open desert that it didn’t even feel like we were falling at all.
However, jumping over the Alps you CAN tell how fast you’re falling because you’re surrounding by the Alps.
You’re above the mountains, then equal to the mountains, then you’re far below their peaks.
It’s awesome.

When I’m falling 200ft a second I want to be able to feel it and see it.
In Interlaken, Switzerland you will definitely get that experience.
I’ve skydived once more since then(in Arizona again) and although it’s still awesome I don’t think any jump will compare to skydiving in Switzerland.

 

Day 3: RIVER RAFTING.

I have always loved rafting, so having the experience of doing it in those turquoise colored glacier rivers was something I could not pass up.
None of the rapids we’d go through were anything over a Level 4.
A few were rough enough for our instructor to mention “If you are thrown from the raft please hang onto your paddle the whole time.
Noted.

Not very long into our trip we got tossed onto a large rock while going through a Level 3 rapid.
While we were trying to wiggle ourselves off this rock we managed to tip the raft about 90 degrees which flipped 4 of us right into the rapids. Myself being one of those people.

Like the instructor said I hung onto my paddle….. but I totally forgot to try and grab the rope on the outside of the raft.
Two of the people let go of their paddles and grabbed the rope. They Failed.
Myself and some other guy were hanging onto our paddles and riding the rapids the rest of the way on our stomachs.
I thought it was great.

I only went about 50ft until I finally saw a rock near shore that I could grab onto.
The other guy was hanging onto a branch about another 30ft down from where I was.
Once we got saved the rest of the trip was pretty great.

Went through a few more rapids, one of which was a Level 4 and then the rest of the time it was pretty relaxing.
Eventually we ended up in the Brienz Lake where we all jumped out into the cold glacier lake and swam back to shore.
If the option of viewing a city from the water is available I’d recommend it.
It gives a you a very different perspective of the place….. especially if it’s through rapids.

Day 4: ICE CLIMBING.

The day I chose to play in snow and ice was the one day where the weather wanted to be gloomy and cold.
Nevertheless I was doing it anyways.
Ice climbing definitely seemed like one of those things I might never be able to do again.

Climbing a 6km Glacier.
Climbing a 6km Glacier.

We drove about 1 hour away from Interlaken to a 6km glacier.
Once there we’d hike to the top, repel into the crevices, and climb our way back out with ropes, ice picks, and crampons.

On our way up the glacier our guide saw something kind of under a rock.
When he flipped the rock he realized it was an old Swiss bomb.
He took some pictures, made a phone call, and built a rock pile as a marker for someone to come through and remove it.

"Don't mind me. I'm just a bomb."
“Don’t mind me. I’m just a bomb.”

We continued onward to the top to have lunch and begin our climbs.
When we reached the top the fog finally cleared and stayed nice just long enough for us to see a small avalanche in the distance and enjoy our food.

A small avalanche happened back there.
A small avalanche happened back there.

As soon as we were done eating, the fog rolled back in and so did the cold cold rain.
The climbing was absolutely amazing, especially being down in those ice crevices.
The climbing itself was definitely a workout I wasn’t ready for.

It took a good bit of strength even once you got used to it.
It took a good bit of trust in those crampons too.
I constantly kept thinking I was going to slip off the ice wall.
To compensate for what seemed like too much trust in the crampons most of us would jam our ice picks in the wall too hard and have a hell of a time trying to pull them back out.
After about 5 climbs each we were sore, wet, and tired so we were ready to head back to the heating of the van.

Fun, but tiring.
Fun, but tiring.

At this point the fog was so thick that we had to take a different way back down, along the side of a grassy mountain instead of the glacier.
The only problem was that on the other side of the mountain was a shooting range.
Our instructor didn’t want us walking on the top for fear of us being shot.
So we had to walk on the side of the mountain which was probably a 70 degree grassy, slippery slant off of a cliff and into a glacier lake.

Just a little bit of fog.
Just a little bit of fog.

After an hour of that we definitely felt like we got more than we bargained for.
It was still absolutely worth it and the nice warm shower that awaited me at the hostel was divine.

Day 5: HANG GLIDING(Tandem) and ROPE COURSE.

Today was double duty.
I already went Paragliding and heard from a few people that Hang Gliding was even better, so I started off my day with that.
Everyone was right.
Hang Gliding is better.

Getting ready to fly.
Getting ready to fly.

Instead of sitting you’re laying stomach down, you go faster, and it just seems riskier(which I love).
It was most interesting when we were coming in for our landing because our stomachs were only about 10 inches from the ground when we came rolling in head first.
Paragliding is nice and relaxing, but hang gliding definitely felt more like the extreme sport between the two.

Bird's view.
Bird’s view.

 

After that I headed to the Seilpark Rope Courses which was only about a 20 minute walk from my hostel.
I’ve always wanted to zip-line, so I was really excited for this.
Once you get checked in with all your gear the instructors will show you how to use your carabiners and harness and you’ll maneuver around a really small course so they can see that you’re doing everything right.
Once they approve then you’re on your own.

There’s 3 small courses for children under 12 and 5 other courses for everyone else.
The 5 bigger courses have heights that range from 36ft(11m) to 66ft(20m).

Ewok Village.
Ewok Village.

 

Now maybe I was used to doing a lot of my high stuff with someone else, but I felt like this was actually one of the scarier things I was doing. Mostly because it was all in my hands.
The courses were really fun once I got the hang of everything.
It was more than just zip-lining from platform to platform.
They had a lot of really good challenging paths.
Some of them were just wooden bridges or steps, but some of the more challenging ones were rings or small logs to cross.

There were a few times where I almost felt afraid of heights, but then had to tell myself that I just threw myself 15,000ft out of a plane the day before.
If for any reason I might have chickened out I’d still pretty much have to go forward, because not too far behind was usually someone else coming.
I hung out there for about 3 hours and completed all the courses.
It was nice to actually be in the forest instead of just flying above it.

Don't slip.
Don’t slip.

 

Day 6: CANYONING.

I saw Canyoning on the list of things to do when I was at Balmer’s but I didn’t know what it was until someone explained it to me.
Once I knew what it was I had to do it.
I also had a feeling it would be the funnest things I did during my whole stay in Switzerland.

Go Canyoning, you'll love it!
Go Canyoning, you’ll love it!

So, what is Canyoning?
Well it’s basically:

A couple vans drive your group and your guides way up a mountain.
From there the group hikes about 10 minutes into the forest to a canyon.
Once you arrive you basically slide down rock slides, jump off 40 foot waterfalls, and repel down some bigger ones till you get to the bottom(about 7 hours total).
Talk about putting your trust and lives in the hands of others.

That's just a small waterfall.
That’s just a small waterfall.

The guides were amazing though.
They knew the river and the falls like the back of their hands.
They’d show you how to slide at certain parts, how to lay, where to put your arms, how to have your legs, how to jump, where to land, and where to swim to.
They were very thorough.

Natural water slide.
Natural water slide.

Some jumps you needed to go to right of the fall because it was 12ft deep, but to the left was only 3ft.
One area they needed you to jump across the drop-off to a wall back first so the wall could guide you to the right spot.
It sounds insane, but once you see someone do it you understand a little bit more.
Plus the fear kind of goes away.
Kind of.
The guides really knew what they were doing and I felt like I was in good hands.

Rambo likes to repel.
Rambo likes to repel.

Words can’t really explain how awesome canyoning was.
Out of all the things I did in Switzerland canyoning was probably the best.

Day 7: ROPE COURSE(again) and CANYON SWING.

Someone I met at the hostel wanted to do the rope course so I decided to join her and do that again since it was so much fun.
A few parts were just as scary as the first time, but I was more focused on watching the newbie try some of the paths.
That made it easier for me the 2nd time around.

Really?!? I have to go across these rings?
Really?!? I have to go across these rings?

 

After the rope course I headed out to do the Canyon Swing.
This was something that I didn’t see up on the board at Balmer’s.
I only heard about when some guy came back to the hostel a couple days earlier screaming about how awesome it was.
He showed me his recording that he had on his camera and when I saw it I kind of flinched and said: “Fuck that! …now where do I sign up?!?”

Still unsure of this decision.
Still unsure of this decision.

While Canyoning was the Funnest thing I did in Switzerland, the Canyon Swing was definitely the Craziest.
When we arrived I was still slightly freaked out by that guys video, so I didn’t want anyone to go before me for fear that I would back out.
But someone did get ahead of me and it was probably for the best.

He stood at the very edge of the platform, held onto the rope, and just stepped off.
I saw that and thought “Come on man, that was weak! You have to go out there like a beast.
So his wimpy jump actually gave me more courage to show everyone else how it’s supposed to be done.
A running jump with no hands and no fucks to give!!!

If I didn't make it back from this I at least wanted a good photo.
If I didn’t make it back from this I at least wanted a good photo.

The canyon swing is kind of like the cousin to bungee jumping.
You have a harness around your chest, hips, and thighs and you don’t dive head first from the platform, you just jump straight out feet first.
It’s a 275ft(85m) free fall that smoothly swings you through a canyon over a small river and a bunch of rocks.

SPLAT!!!
SPLAT!!!

It sounds crazy… and it is.
I would do it daily if I could.

 

Day 8: CANYONING(again).

The day before I decided to do this again I met a few new people that were talking about doing the half-day canyoning trip and I told them they’d regret not doing the full day.
So eventually I convinced them to do the full day trip and they convinced me to go again.
They didn’t have to try too hard, I was probably more excited than they were.

"Weeeeeeeeee!!!"
“Weeeeeeeeee!!!”

When we made it into the woods and the guides were talking about everything involved one of them asked:
Guide: “Has anyone done this before?
Me: “I did it just 2 days ago.
Guide: “Oh, you must have done the half day one and wanted to experience the full day one, right?
Me: “Nope. I did this same exact one and I’m ready to do it again.
Guide: “Well there you go everyone. It’s so awesome we have returning visitors within 72 hours.

We're Superheroes!
We’re Superheroes!

It really is that awesome.
You have to do it.

So there it is, after 8 days of crazy shit I actually survived.
Now you’re probably wondering how much all of that cost, because everyone knows Switzerland is not a cheap Country.

The Cost.

 Just for those activities it cost about 1733CHF.
Certainly not cheap, but worth every penny.

I’m glad I did it when I did because looking at prices now it would cost me a total of 1890CHF.
Everything has gone up in price except the Canyon Swing(it stayed the same).
Some only went up 10-20CHF, but the Hang Gliding and Canyoning has gone up 40-70CHF!!!
So get to Switzerland ASAP before prizes go up any higher!

There were still a few things I didn’t do because I thought I’d do them somewhere else, like Bungee Jumping in Scheveningen, Netherlands(but I ran out of money).
I also didn’t do Zorbing, which looked like fun but not worth all the Swiss Francs they were charging.
Eventually I’ll do those things, but maybe I’ll save them for the other Extreme Sports Capital: New Zealand!!!

Tell me about your experiences with extreme sports in the comments section below.

Jeremiah Cooper

Jeremiah Cooper

Welcome to Live Life Extreme, a travel blog about thrill-seeking, adventurous travel through some of the largest cities to off the beaten path getaways.

My name is Jeremiah and I'm an Arizona desert rat in search of the next adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.
Jeremiah Cooper

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