Switzerland, you need to be kinder to your fellow neighbors.
The sheer awesomeness of you is 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 going for the amazing surroundings and to do some hiking.
Little did I know that Interlaken, Switzerland was in a race with Queenstown, New Zealand to 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 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.
Going 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.
There they would help set up all the extreme 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).
This was something I could see myself learning how to do professionally.
Mostly because it was so peaceful.
It’s nice and quiet up there catching different wind currents.
Just floating around with ease and taking in the amazing view.
Definitely the best way to get a full panorama of your surroundings.
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.
I did it again in Switzerland because we’d be jumping over the Swiss Alps.
I knew this jump would be better than anywhere else in the world.
There were 3 different skydiving options:
1. 12,000 ft from a Helicopter.
2. 13,000 ft from a Plane.
3. 15,000 ft from a Plane.
I’ve already jumped 13,000 ft so I didn’t want to do that again.
But 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 15,000 ft jump that one other person was taking(everyone else was doing 13,000 ft).
I was definitely OK with this option because I’ve always wanted to go higher.
And they only charged me the 13,000 ft 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 100% correct.
Skydiving In Switzerland Is The Best.
The main thing I can take away from that jump is everywhere else will pale in comparison to skydiving over the Swiss Alps.
We barrel rolled from the plane and when we straightened out we were falling through thin clouds.
Then for fun we started doing some spins.
Once we pulled the chute I could finally look around.
The view took my breath away.
But one thing I noticed as we were falling over the flat desert was that it didn’t even feel like we were falling too fast.
When jumping over the Alps you CAN tell how fast you’re falling because of the surroundings by the Alps.
First you’re above the mountains, then equal to the mountains, then you’re far below their peaks.
In Interlaken, Switzerland you will definitely get that experience.
I’ve skydived twice more since then(in Arizona again).
Day 3: RIVER RAFTING.
So doing it in Switzerland’s turquoise 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 say “If you’re thrown from the raft please hang onto your paddle the entire time.”
Flipping Our Raft.
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 to a 90 degree angle.
This mishap flipped 4 of us right into the rapids.
Myself being one of those people.
Like the instructor said I hung on to my paddle….. but I forgot to grab the rope on the outside of the raft.
Two of the people let go of their paddles and grabbed the rope.
Myself and some other guy were hanging on to our paddles and riding the rapids the rest of the way on our stomachs.
I thought it was great.
The other guy was hanging to a branch about another 30 ft down from where I was.
Once we got saved the rest of the trip was pretty great.
At the end we entered 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 always take 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.
We drove about 1 hour away from Interlaken to a 6 km 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.
Stumbled Upon A Bomb.
On our way up the glacier our guide saw something 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 military to come and remove it.
We continued to the top to have lunch and begin our climbs.
When we reached the top the fog finally cleared.
The weather stayed nice only long enough for us to see a small avalanche in the distance and enjoy our food.
Glacier Climbing In The Rain.
As soon as we were done eating, the fog rolled back in and so did the 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 bit of trust in those crampons too.
I constantly kept thinking I was going to slip off the ice wall.
To compensate for our distrust in the crampons most of us would jam our ice picks in the wall too hard.
After 5 climbs each we were sore, wet, and tired so we were ready to head back to the heating of the van.
Don’t Get Shot.
At this point the fog was so thick that we had to take a different way back down.
This time we went 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 being shot.
So we had to walk on the side of the mountain.
Which was a 70 degree grassy, slippery slant off of a cliff and into a glacier lake.
After an hour of that we definitely felt like we got more than we bargained for.
But it was still worth it and the nice warm shower that awaited me at the hostel was divine.
Day 5: HANG GLIDING(Tandem) and ROPE COURSE.
I already went Paragliding but heard that Hang Gliding was even better.
Everyone was right.
Hang Gliding is better.
Instead of sitting, you’re laying stomach down.
You go faster and it 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 as we came in head first.
Paragliding is nice and relaxing, but hang gliding felt more like an extreme sport.
Zip Lining And Rope Course.
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.
Then you’ll maneuver around a small course so they can see that you’re doing everything right.
Once they approve then you’re on your own.
The 5 bigger courses have heights that range from 36 ft(11 m) to 66 ft(20 m).
Scarier Than Skydiving?
I think I was used to doing a lot of my high stuff with someone else in charge.
Because I felt like this was actually one of the scarier things I was doing.
As it was all in my hands.
The courses were fun once I got the hang of everything.
It was more than just zip-lining from platform to platform.
There were challenging paths up in the trees.
Some of them were just wooden bridges or steps.
But some of the more challenging ones were rings or small logs you had to cross.
If for any reason I might have chickened out I’d still have to go forward.
I hung out at the park for about 3 hours and completed all the courses.
It was nice to actually be in the forest instead of flying above it.
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.
So, what is Canyoning?
Well it’s basically:
From there the group hikes about 10 minutes into the forest to a canyon.
Once you arrive, you slide down rock slides.
It takes about 7 hours total.
Talk about putting your trust and lives in the hands of others.
The guides were amazing though.
They knew the river and the falls like the back of their hands.
They’d show you 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.
Jumping Down Waterfalls.
Some jumps you needed to go to right of the fall because it was 12 ft deep, but to the left was only 3 ft.
One area they needed you to jump across the drop-off to a wall back first.
That way the wall could guide you to the correct spot.
It sounds insane, but once you see someone do it you understand a bit more.
Plus the fear kind of goes away.
The guides really knew what they were doing and I felt like I was in good hands.
Words can’t explain how awesome canyoning was.
Out of all the things I did in Switzerland canyoning was 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.
Crazier Than Skydiving.
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 of days earlier screaming about how awesome it was.
He showed me his recording on his camera and when I saw it I kind of flinched and said: “Fuck that! …now where do I sign up?!?”
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.
I decided 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 for the best.
He stood at the very edge of the platform, held 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 you’re supposed to do it.
A running jump with no hands and no fucks to give!!!
The canyon swing is kind of like the cousin to bungee jumping.
You have a harness around your chest, hips, and thighs.
You don’t dive head first from the platform though, you just jump straight out.
It’s a 275 ft(85 m) free fall that smoothly swings you through a canyon over a small river and a bunch of rocks.
It sounds crazy… and it is.
I would do it daily if I could.
Day 8: CANYONING(again).
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.
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 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.”
It really is that awesome.
You have to do it.
Now you’re probably wondering how much that all cost.
Just for those activities it cost about 1733 CHF.
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 1890 CHF.
Everything has gone up in price except the Canyon Swing(it stayed the same).
Some only went up 10-20 CHF, but the Hang Gliding and Canyoning has gone up 40-70 CHF!!!
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.