Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Liz flies down the Cerro Negro volcano on a sled made of plywood and hay string. Safety first. 
In the annals of extreme sports, volcano boarding has to rank in the Top 10. 

Thought up by a bored Australian backpacker turned hostel owner in Leon, Nicaragua, the activity involves riding a piece of juiced-up plywood down the steep, black slope of an active volcano at speeds of up to 58 mph (current record).
Liz and Todd wave hello, leading the train up the volcano. Yes, riders have to carry their own boards.
While everyone comes for the trip down, the views on the hike up aren't so bad either.
Breaking the legal speed limit while sliding down lava rocks on a piece of wood? We were definitely giving this a shot. 

Todd and Liz getting instructions from our guide.
The volcano, Cerro Negro, is actually Central America's youngest (born 1850) and its most active, last erupting in 1999. On the one-hour hike up, riders haul their boards past steam spewing from vents along the route. Rocks in various places are hot enough to melt your shoes. 

Despite the heat and the fumes, we hung around, took some photos, goofed off with the 20 or so others on the tour, and finally got around to boarding down the big black mountain. 

After an instructional briefing from our guide, we slipped into our orange prison jumpsuits and donned our protective goggles (both necessary to stop the flying rocks that bombard boarders like doubt all the way down). One by one, we readied ourselves for launch.

No, none of us was able to break the world volcano boarding speed record...although an American guy from our eclectic group (ages 17-43; six continents) did...58.7 miles per hour (they use a speed gun)...on a piece of thin plywood turned turbo using a thin piece of metal and some Formica. 

Insanity. For those wondering, the three of us didn't even get close to that. Maybe next time.
Todd, Liz and Kip with their volcano boards.
The white rectangle is formica, used to reduce resistance. It has to be replaced after every ride.

Liz seconds before her attempt to break the world volcano boarding speed record.
If you'd like to try out volcano boarding, get yourself to Leon, Nicaragua, drop by the Bigfoot Hostel, and say "volcano boarding" to anyone you see. They'll direct you to where to sign up. Tours leave in a huge orange construction truck around 9 most mornings. 
Todd takes his turn down the volcano.
The takeoff is scary enough, but not to worry--the last 100 yards is way worse.

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