Thrill Seekers: Utah’s Extreme-Sports Scene is not for the Faint of Heart

Winter is coming. For some, this means the welcome start of the ski and snowboard season, or for ice skating, snowman making and snowball fights. But for those who have reached their winter of discontentment with those activities, Utah offers plenty of other options to get your blood—and adrenaline—pumping.

As with any extreme sport, safety is paramount: please check with a guide (and your doctor) before engaging.

Winter Comet Bobsled
Utah Olympic Park|

Why Try? There are only two bobsled tracks in the United States—and one of them is in Utah Olympic Park, located in Park City. Used in the 2002 Winter Olympics, the bobsled track offers 10 curves and speeds up to 70 mph for riders, generating up to five times the force of gravity.

“The winter ride is much more authentic, as you’re in a sled with the blades on it and you’re on the ice. [It’s] much smoother because you can’t feel the grooves of the track,” says Melanie Welch, marketing manager at Utah Olympic Park. “You can really feel the G-force more because it’s such a smooth ride.”

How Hardcore? While you should be in good physical shape for bobsledding, no previous experience is necessary: a professional bobsled pilot will navigate the sled with you and two others, so that you don’t flip over a la Cool Runnings.

When? The bobsled track operates November 27 through March 27.

Extreme Winter Tubing
Utah Olympic Park|

Why Try? If you liked sledding as a child but want to ramp up that experience, extreme winter tubing is for you. Starting at the large hill of the K-64 Olympic Nordic ski jump, participants strap on a helmet, get fitted into an inflatable tube and go careening down the snow and into the outrun. The ride is tremendously fast, according to Welch.

“It’s pretty unique—other tubing places are a little more gradual, but you’re hitting 50 mph on our tube,” she says.

How Hardcore? The fierce speeds rule out the faint of heart. This is the first season the park will offer winter tubing, so check the website for further restrictions.

When? The season is snow-dependent, starting in late December, and can run through April.

Ice Climbing
Utah Mountain Adventures |

Why Try? Ever thought about climbing a waterfall? At winter’s peak, areas in Provo Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon freeze over, allowing climbers to heave pickaxes and anchors into the ice and scale them, offering challenging routes and gorgeous views.

“Ice is such a changing substance,” says Julie Faure, president at Utah Mountain Adventures. “In general, [with rock climbing] you go to a crag and the rock is the same year after year after year. When you think about ice, every single day the ice medium changes.”

How Hardcore? For a basic ice climbing clinic, no previous climbing experience is necessary, but the assortment of ice tools, thick clothing, backpack and crampons mean that you should be in good shape. For the multi-pitch ice climbing clinic, participants will need to be at least moderately experienced climbers.

When? The ice climbing season is short: it starts in late December and runs through mid-February, but any warm day can spoil the fun.

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