BRITISH COLUMBIA

Things To Do In B.C.: Extreme Sports

08/04/2013 01:10 EDT | Updated 08/04/2013 02:10 EDT
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British Columbia is an ideal place for extreme sports: whitewater rafting, skydiving, heliskiing ... You can test your limits in any season.

In the summer, kiteboarding is one of the best ways to cool off. Strap yourself to a board, put a kite in the air and let the wind propel you over the waves. Strong Kiteboarding offers lessons at Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island, where instructors can teach you how to launch, jump and ride upwind.

Craving altitude? Maybe parasailing's the thing for you. One or two people are attached to a parachute tied to the back of a motorboat and are propelled into the sky as the boat speeds across the water. The Okanagan Parasail Co. offers trips that take you up to 91 metres in the air over Lake Okanagan.

B.C.'s rugged terrain also makes it an ideal destination for mountain biking. Great trails can be found in almost any region but the Seven Summits Alpine Ridge Trail near Rossland stands out as one of the best. It's a 30.4-kilometre trail of moderate difficulty that crosses several peaks near Red Mountain ski resort. The ride can take anywhere from four to six hours so be sure to pack smart.

If you prefer to play in winter, head to B.C.'s backcountry and hop on a snowmobile. The province boasts an extensive network of snowmobiling areas on groomed trails, hillsides and even glaciers. At the Kicking Horse region's Silent Pass, you can ride trails with elevation of up to two kilometres high.

Or take a leap and try heliskiing. Whistler Heli-Skiing has access to 475 runs and 173 glaciers off the beaten track with paths measuring over 4,500 vertical metres. And the best part? No long lift lines.

Many of these sports carry big risks and are strictly regulated. But if you're careful, and you play by the rules, B.C. will test your mettle again and again.

Check out our round up of the extreme sports you can play in British Columbia:

Extreme Sports In B.C.

BASE Jumping: Are you barve enough to jump off a high point with only a parachute to cusion your fall? The Stawamus Chief in Squamish is a particularly popular place to do just that.

Hang Gliding/Paragliding: Launch yourself into the air in a light aircraft with triangular wings. The Air Dance Hang Gliding School in Kamloops has an intensive course that teaches people about the theory of gliding, as well as how to set up, check over a hang glider and launch on a training hill. Paragliding is a riff on hang gliding, only this time you sit in a harness and hang from a parachute.

Snowmobiling: Motorized vehicles allow you to barrel through groomed trails, up hills and even across glaciers, reaching areas you couldn't hope to see otherwise. There are some great snowmobiling areas near Golden.

Skydiving: The ultimate sport for thrill-seekers who love high altitude. Pacific Skydivers Ltd. takes jumpers at the Pitt Meadows Municipal Airport, where your first leap is a tandem skydive with an experienced professional.

Kiteboarding: Strap a kite to a board, head out on the water and let the wind carry you forward. Strong Kiteboarding teaches lessons on Nitinat Lake on the west side of Vancouver Island.

Parasledding: Eric Oddy has pioneered parasledding in B.C.'s Purcell Mountains, CBC News reports. It involves strapping a paraglider to a snowmobile, then driving fast enough to lift you off the ground. Oddy says he has flown his snowmobile as high as 30 metres in the air.

Mountain Biking: Mountain biking is synonymous with outdoor recreation in B.C. You can take your bike for a thrilling ride in almost any mountainous community. The Seven Summits Alpine Ridge Trail is one of the province's best, while Vancouver's North Shore offers a range of natural and technical paths.

Parasailing: Not for people with fear of heights, parasailing involves attaching one or two people to a parachute that's tethered to a motorboat. Kelowna's Okanagan Parasailing Co. offers trips on Lake Okanagan.

Rock Climbing: You need a strong grip as you pit yourself against the side of a mountain or rock face. Skaha Rock Adventures in Penticton claims to be western Canada's biggest rock climbing school, with courses that teach you how to conquer a crag.

Heli-Skiing: The best way to enjoy the mountains if you don't like lift lines. Whistler Heli-Skiing takes skiers and snowboarders on backcountry runs and glaciers that allow you to avoid the crowds on some very challenging terrain.

Bungee Jumping: Try not to scream as you leap off a bridge and plummet very fast. WildPlay Nanaimo offers jumps off a 46-metre bridge.

ATV Riding: All-terrain vehicles (ATV) allow you to tackle some of B.C.'s toughest trails. The Sand Creek trail near Fernie is a 71-kilometre ride with elevation of just under 2,000 metres and it has lookouts over Tie Lake and Kootenay Lake.

Whitewater Rafting: Submit yourself to a river's mercy with a whitewater rafting trip. The activity requires careful navigation of a river's current as a wrong move can knock you out of your boat. Interior Whitewater Expeditions takes rafters on trips in Wells Gray Park.

Horse Riding/Ranching: Ever wanted to travel like the early pioneers? B.C. has plenty of horseback riding expeditions that challenge you to rough it like a cattle rancher. Chezacut Wilderness and Ranch Adventures offers packages in which you herd cattle through B.C.'s Chilcotin region and camp in the wild.