Mission Impossible: 10 Of The Most Extreme Action Sports Locations On Earth
Sponsored feature: These spots have dominated the history books.
The history of action sports is littered with epic tales, epic feats, and epic locations. Mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, skiing, BASE jumping, skateboarding; whatever thing you're into the most, you can basically guarantee that someone out there has spilt blood, sweat, and tears to make the best of their talent and to give us, the humble viewer, a truly memorable viewing experience.
In honour of these people, and the awesome spots they've dedicated their lives to nailing, we've compiled together this seriously gnarly list. Buckle up, sit tight, and let the gnarly vibes be absorbed by your brain. You don't have to be mad to hit these spots...but it definitely helps.
1) Freeride Mountain Biking - Gobi Desert
Mountain biking is all about hitting the wilderness, burying your iPhone under a mound of dirt, setting that mound of dirt on fire, and finding freedom in the awesomeness of nature. But, for many of us in the UK, that's not always as easy as it seems. Sure, there's loads of open space, cool trails, and, in Scotland especially, some real epic stuff on offer.
That being said, no matter how far you trek from the beaten track in this green and pleasant land of ours you'll never be as far from the beaten trek as the absolute mega dudes who go Gobi Desert free-ride mountain biking in 'Where The Trail Ends'. This environment clearly took a lot of effort to get the most from, but the thrills and spills on the way down were plainly worth sweating for. This is 200% epic. No. 300% epic.
2) Arctic Swell - Surfing the Ends of the Earth
When you think of surfing, it's easy to just picture idyllic beach settings with idyllic beach bars and idyllically warm waves lapping up on those idyllic little grains of sand. But, as this inspirational film shows, surfing is also about intrepid exploration and setting off in pursuit of the world's gnarliest spots.
Photographer Chris Burkard as well as professional wave-riders Patrick Millin, Brett Barley, and Chadd Konig braved sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic Circle to capture moments of brutally raw beauty in conditions that sit comfortably near the top of the harsh conditions league table. Savage winds and pointy-nipple inducing waters are a small price to pay when you're on the cutting edge of action sports and adventure. Life is about discovery, and these lads discovered it by the bucketload.
3) Iceberg Wakeboarding In Patagonia
If you've seen the 1997 film 'Titanic', you could be forgiven for thinking that icebergs are only famous for interrupting passionate love affairs between people of differing social standings and sinking cruise ships. However, as wakeboarding legend Parks Bonifay discovered in the waters of Patagonia the bad reputation of icebergs is a tad unfair.
This, it's fair to say, is wakeboarding like you've never seen it before. Kickers? Who needs 'em when you've got huge sloped chunks of solid ice floating around on the water like frozen cubes in a glass of 7 Up? This spot, which clearly took some effort to get to, is in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina.
4) Cody Townsend's - Legendary Alaskan Line
If you've never seen this, what have you been doing with your life? We're not even joking. Seriously, what have you been doing with your life?! This line from big mountain skier Cody Townsend, in the Tordrillos Mountain Range of Alaska, pretty much set fire to the internet in 2014...in a way that Kim Kardashian's oily bum could only dream of replicating.
Townsend's descent through that near-vertical chute has been etched on our eyeballs ever since we first saw it. Sure it's made driving our cars slightly more difficult than it used to be and we do occasionally find ourselves shouting things like "holy moly...how the hell has he done that?" and "flippin' 'eck...that's bloomin' outrageous" at inappropriate moments but, other than that, watching it has greatly improved our lives.
Thanks Cody. Thanks for making the effort, and giving a gift to the world.
5) Moab Towers and Magic Backpacks - BASE Jump
BASE jumping is all about the missions. It's an extreme hobby, for extreme people, who on some level like to think of themselves as extreme lovechilds of super-spy James Bond and extreme superhero Thomas Cruise from those Mission Impossible moving picture stories.
We could have picked any number of the twelve hundred million BASE jumping videos that are on the internet but, because the build up to this one is particularly frightening for anyone with a fear of heights, we've decided to give it a richly deserved shout out. Shot in the Moab Desert in Utah, this footage is bursting at the seams with pure unfiltered courage. Imagine going through all that effort, and mental torture, to then throw yourself off into the open air. This is the maddest of missions.
6) Danny Macaskill - The Ridge
Danny Macaskill is, arguably, the closest humanity has come yet to producing a proper wizard. We've yet to see him play Quidditch, defeat a Balrog, or grow a long white beard, sit at a roundtable, and call himself Merlin. But, putting that to one side, we have seen him do an almost unquantifiable amount of genuinely implausible stuff.
The Ridge, which features Macaskill returning to his native home on the Isle of Skye, is a death-defying and awe-inspiring thrill-ride from start to finish. The climb, riding, and descent of the infamous Cuillin Ridgeline is made all the more emotional by the beautiful spine-tingling music that plays over the top. This is one epic mission that might just bring a salty tear to your eyeball. Lovely stuff.
7) Jeremy Jones - Shangri La Spine Wall
Jeremy Jones is, it's safe to say, one of the ultimate kings when it comes to big-time backcountry snowboarding. We could, if we're being totally honest here, have just turned this piece into some good old fashioned JJ fanboy-ing but decided that wouldn't be fair on all the other superb action sport mission videos that the world has to offer.
Our favourite Jones moment, taken from the secret JJ-dedicated box we keep under our desk, is when he dropped in on the Shangri La Spine Wall in Nepal. This was absolutely huge on so many levels, and Jones basically rewrote the definition of epic with it. Anything that involves a 21,500 foot drop-in in the Himalayas, preceded by climbing footage that's this astonishing, has to be considered an epic mission.
8) The Cyclops Wave - Australia
Cyclops is located seven hours from Perth, Australia, and can only be accessed by chartering a boat. When you factor in that Australia is a mere 24 hour plane-ride away from the United Kingdom, it's fair to say that surfing this spot falls comfortably into the 'serious mission' category.
Cyclops is known for having massive chunky lips that swell up from deep water, and break onto a bed of extremely sharp coral. The uniqueness of the environment gives Cyclops both its unique shape, and its name. Watch the video below and see how the awesome wave nearly collapses in on itself, making it almost look like a solitary eye...sort of.
9) Mount Baldy - Underground Skate Spot
In the world of action sports, there are places that are iconic. And then, as is the case with the underground skate sport Mount Baldy, there are places that are really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really iconic.
Located in California, this skate spot has featured in more magazines and skate films than you've had hot dinners. Its location is a secret, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in an enigma. If you want to hit this spot, you'll need to make friends with the right people (and/or invest billions of dollars in some military grade tracking systems).
10) Unreal Mountain Biking On A Glacier
If you've always wanted to know what it's like to go mountain biking on top of a giant tub of vanilla ice-cream, in the middle of nowhere, this footage from the UnReal film production in British Columbia is an absolute must watch.
Not only does this cracking video score an eye-popping eleven out of ten on Mpora's thermostat of awesomeness, it also shines a light on the epic lengths people are willing to go to go mountain biking in places most people would never think to go mountain biking. Go humans! Go team! Gooooo mountain biking!
The Indestructibles, a new TV show sponsored by G-Shock, is coming soon to Dave.