ice climbing

Seven Terrifying Things To Do In Europe This Winter

Thanks to Contiki we’re shining a light on the best European Winter has to offer; and it’s not all carols, eggnog and log fires.
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Ahh, winter. For some of you it means snuggling by an open fire and drinking a glass of red wine on a bear-skinned rug, snuggling up to your partner/dog. But others have no need for such paltry comforts: the fire is in their hearts, the red wine exchanged for a pair of skis, the dog is leaping from a blimp with you saddled on, and your partner is DANGER.

For those people, we’ve compiled a list of utterly stupid yet admittedly thrilling things that you can do during winter in Europe.

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1. Ice Skating On The Eiffel Tower

VOICEOVER: 

Can you think of anything more romantic than a moonlit skate on a softly-lit rink?

What about if, with every gentle circuit you make, there was the outside chance you would plummet several stories to your death?

What if that building was… AN EIFFEL TOWER!” [Wicked guitar noise, like, meddelley-meddelley-meeeeeee]

That right there is how I would write a TV ad for the Eiffel Tower Death-Rink experience.

I hate to bang on about it, but ice is scientifically classified as horrifically treacherous; while it can be liberating to glide across it effortlessly on knife-shoes or whatever, that sense of liberation will probably turn into terror as soon as you skate off a world-renowned land-mark…

Image via anytrip.com

[Image via anytrip.com]

Find out more: Eiffel Tower Ice Skating (2013/14 dates TBC)

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2. Sledding In Lake Lucerne

Not actually in the lake – that would be canoeing. (Daaaad, this is my article.)

Anyway, my only knowledge of anything sled-related comes from mistakenly thinking a toboggan is a sled. And when I think of toboggans, I think of Cool Runnings.

Actually this sounds like a bunch of fun; you can go really fast.

Babies love it too! [Image via luzern.com]

Babies love it too! [Image via luzern.com]

Find out more: Lake Lucerne

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3. Cliff Strolling In Spain 

If you couldn’t tell by the fact it is the most Spanish name ever, El Caminito Del Rey is in Spain, and also known as The King’s Pathway.

camino-del-rey-1

It was originally built in 1905 for workers to travel between two hydroelectric power plants, but was closed off in 2000 after two walkers fell to their deaths. To commemorate this, lots of people like to recreate this terrifying pilgrimage and do an epic walk along pieces of flotsam and ancient ropes that look like they were cobbled together by an army of toddlers.

el-caminito-del-rey-ii

Nope! [© José Manuel Aguilar López]

Have a look at this video, which went viral, to try and understand the motivation behind it all.

Yup. Definitely. Book me a ticket to terror town.

Find out more: Rock Climbing Spain

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4. Ice Climbing In Norway

I’m astounded that it can get cold enough for a waterfall to freeze. Actually when you think about it, freezing anything is pretty astounding. Science is cool! But let’s move past that point — because not only are frozen waterfalls a phenomenon that occurs, but people also want to climb up them!

iceclimb1

[© Subflux, Flickr]

Ice climbing is like rock climbing’s older brother. A brother who has several mechanical arms, and was born without the part of the brain that feels fear. With nothing more than sharpened picks and a series of ropes, you too can spit in the face of gravity and ascend a wall of something generally included in lists of ‘Ten Things That Are Slippery’.

Norway is the spiritual home of such adventures. As they say, it’s Nor Way or the highway.

Find out more: Visit Norway

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5. Snow Wolf Tracking In Sweden

They say that man is the deadliest predator, but you know who else aren’t slouches in the hunting and killing game? Lawyers! But seriously, I meant wolves.

And in certain parts of Sweden, you can hunt the hunter — aka actually track wolves. If you, like me, are trying to work out what is totally awesome and not pants-shittingly terrifying about this, just look at these handy dot points found on adventure website WildSweden.com

  • Track Wolves through a beautiful forest
  • Chance to hear the Wolves howl in the evening
  • Slide show presentation about Wolves
  • Try cross country skiing in forests and on frozen lakes (alternatively on foot)
  • Cosy guesthouse with wild meals and sauna, located in a Wolf territory
  • It also happens occasionally that we see a wolf

Hey cool! A slideshow!

wolftracking

[Terrifying image via WildSweden.com]

Find out more: Wild Sweden

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6. The James Bond Bungee Jump

No, it’s not a sex move.

Remember that one scene in Golden Eye, when James Bond bungee jumps off that massive dam? No need to strain your memory hole, because we can just show you via the magic of YouTube.

So let’s just get some things straight. James Bond is an imaginary character, like Batman or a man made entirely out of bats. He does imaginary things, like sleeps with super villain ladies, wrestle sharks, and bungee jumps off giant dams.

But apparently that dam ISN’T make-believe.

Verzasca_Dam2

It’s called the Verzasca Dam, and you too can bungee jump off it for a price. Not only that, but you can do it in a variety of methods and styles — like ballroom! Or modern jazz! (I am kidding) — which in essence means that you are potentially one-upping James Bond.

Find out more: Trekking Outdoor Team

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7. Heli-Skiing In Europe

Why is everything in this list jumping off things or climbing up other things? So what is heli-skiing, anyway?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s ask our old friend James Bond for help.

So that’s heli-skiing – minus the machine guns. It’s actually banned in a lot of Europe, but don’t despair, thrillseekers! You can still find people in Finland and Switzerland who are willing to drop you out of a helicopter onto a mountain!

Why is it banned? Mostly due to all the avalanches the helicopters are prone to setting off, which you then have to race away from on your skis.

Also, the avalanche has machine guns!

Image via VacationTravelEurope.com

[Image via VacationTravelEurope.com]

Find out more: Elemental Adventure

Follow Contiki here on Twitter.

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Patrick Lenton is a writer of theatre and fiction. He blogs at The Spontaneity Review and edits The Sturgeon General, a new anthology of comedy writing. He tweets inanity from @patricklenton.

Feature image via senjalodge.com

  • Raen Waghorn-Hughes

    Kiss my lucky egg!