10 extreme winter sports to get the adrenaline pumping


What do you do to get your thrills?

Modern life, with its smartphones, office jobs and traffic jams isn’t exactly filled with adrenaline. Life can be decidedly dull at times – and this is why we book holidays and try things we’ve never done before.

For thrill-seekers, a winter holiday is about more than just skiing and snowboarding. It’s about extreme sports packed full of dangerous exploits, action-packed adventures and thrilling activities.

Don’t like the cold? Have a fear of heights? Happy with the status quo? Let’s be honest, extreme winter sports probably aren’t going to be your thing. But for the rest of us, hold on tight and get ready to plunge into some seriously risky ways to enjoy your next holiday in the snow.

Here are ten extreme winter sports sure to get the adrenaline pumping this season


1 Snow kiting

Snow kiting is a mixture of snowboarding and kitesurfing. Using a power kite to travel across the snow on a snowboard or skis is sure to get the adrenaline pumping.

It’s one of the most popular extreme winter sports around the world and uses similar kites to those used in kite surfing (i.e. ones that are steerable).

Unlike other winter sports, snow kiting doesn’t require extreme terrain and can be done either up or downhill. As long as you’re able to ski or snowboard with confidence down a blue run, you can give snow kiting a go. Be warned, you can build up speed pretty quickly!
A person snow kiting on a large flat area of snow with woodland in the background

2 Snow kayaking

All you need for snow kayaking is a slope and a kayak at the top of it.

Not dissimilar to sledding, snow kayaking is all about momentum. Unlike a kayak on water, a kayak on an icy slope is more difficult to handle, but having a paddle to steer makes it more controlled than your average sledge.

Once you start getting the hang of it, you might want to add wax to the bottom of the kayak to travel faster. Not all resorts offer it, so if you want to give it a go, do your research first.

3 Ice diving

Who wouldn’t fancy donning a drysuit and submerging themselves into a frozen lake?

With scuba diving such a popular sport, it’s little wonder that ice diving has also risen in popularity. Clearly, the dangers associated with underwater diving are not enough for some people – they want to add ice-cold temperatures to the mix.

There’s only one entry and exit point – through a hole cut into the ice – but you will usually be tethered to someone on the surface.

4 Ice climbing

If you like rock climbing but crave an added element of risk, then ice climbing could be for you.

Whether it’s climbing up a frozen waterfall or a specially-made ice climbing wall, it’s a great workout for the body and mind.

Originally developed when mountaineers needed to scale sheer icy sections of mountainside, these days there are plenty of specialist tools and equipment to aid your ascent.

You don’t need to have experience of rock climbing or indoor climbing walls to have a go, but it does help to have a good level of fitness and a professional guide for your first few climbs.
Two people in winter clothing climbing a wall of ice using tools and ropes

5 Shovel racing

Invented around 40 years ago, all you need to try your hand at shovel racing is (unsurprisingly) a shovel. What started as a bit of a joke (ski instructors riding shovels down the slopes at the end of their shifts) has become a sport in its own right. You can reach speeds of nearly 60 mph, and if you take part in races competitively, any modifications to your shovel could end up with you being disqualified. Just so you know…

6 Snocross

Snocross is basically motocross on snow – just with snowmobiles rather than motorcycles. Racing round the tracks means navigating your way through turns, banks and obstacles. Jumps can be up to nine metres high and can launch racers 30 metres in the air. It’s great fun to take part – and pretty exciting to watch, too!

7 Ski biking

Among the easiest of the winter extreme sports, ski bikes have skis instead of wheels so you can whizz down steep slopes.

With a low centre of gravity, these bikes are easy to ride and steer.

It’s an easy sport for beginners to pick up, but as it’s still quite new, snow bikes can be hard to find for hire. They’re definitely out there though, so don’t give up!

8 Ice surfing

Another summer sport hybrid, ice surfing is a bit like wind surfing, but with ice blades.

Travelling across a surface of ice makes for much quicker speeds than on open water (up to 70 mph). As a result, it can be far more dangerous too. It’s worth remembering that these devices have no brakes and don’t mix so well with thin ice. You’ve been warned…

9 Speed flying

A helicopter flying overhead in snowy conditions on a sunny day

Speed flying is one of the more expensive (and dangerous) extreme winter sports.

It involves downhill skiing with a parachute-like fabric wing attached to you. If you want to give it a go, you could find yourself dropped off by helicopter in a remote part of the mountain and ‘flying’ down the hill (secure in the knowledge that you can ski whenever your feet touch the ground).

But be aware that speed flyers can reach speeds of up to 100 mph and have to dodge trees and ravines along the way – winter sports insurance is a must!

10 Ice driving

If you’re heading to the French ski resort of Val Thorens any time soon, you’ll find yourself in the home of Europe’s highest ice driving circuit (2,300 m).

This 760-metre-long circuit has a separate karting track so it’s a great place to visit as a family. Elsewhere, there are plenty more resorts offering ice driving. You can reach speeds of up to 125 mph and with no barriers, rails or obstacles, it can feel like a pretty intense behind-the-wheel experience.

If these sports sound like winter holiday heaven to you, make sure you have winter sports insurance that covers you for the activities you want to do. At Insurance Choice, we can arrange winter sports insurance that allows you to make the most of your winter adventure and get your adrenaline fix, while staying protected.