Some outdoor enthusiasts prefer glamping—glamorous camping—because they believe that creature comforts are a necessary luxury. Other outdoor enthusiasts define creature comforts as that which can be found camping in a small RV, camper, or a tent in traditional campsites. We’re taking outdoor adventure to the next level and spotlighting activities for the bravest-of-the-brave! 

#1 Spelunking

Recommended website: Horne Lake Caves

For those who love going where few have gone before—and who don’t suffer from claustrophobia—then caving is for you. Go exploring BELOW those mountains and old growth forests that we love so much. Traditionally known as “spelunking” in the United States and Canada, and “potholing” in the United Kingdom and Ireland, caving allows you to discover a whole other world of shimmering crystal formations, fascinating ancient fossils, and impressive underground waterfalls.

Generally, caves are formed slowly by water—which dissolves the rock—or more quickly by streams of lava—where lava stayed hot enough to drain out when the eruption ceased, leaving behind a hollow cave. If you are one of the brave who is going to explore a cave, be ready to negotiate steep, slippery pitches, squeeze though tight openings, and navigate through water hazards, all in a total absence of natural light.

At Horne Lake Caves on Vancouver Island visitors will discover awe-inspiring underground labyrinths and see for themselves the powerful natural forces that have carved beautiful underground tunnels and crystal-filled caverns. You have the option of exploring on your own or joining a guided tour, but in the tour you have the added opportunity of climbing an underground waterfall, sliding down ramps and ladders, and—for the truly brave—squeezing through an underground “worm-hole.”

An introduction to caving for the novice caver is a great site for the beginner spelunker. In Canada, for caving adventures from mild to extreme, check out the recommendations on Hello BC, while in the USA, Triple Blaze has comprehensive details and great information for the brave outdoor enthusiast about where to start exploring the mysterious and mind-blowing world beneath our feet.

#2 Cold Water Surfing

Recommended website: HelloBC

It’s not hard for anyone to imagine the appeal of surfing off the coasts of Hawaii, California or Australia, but what about surfing in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Canada … in January! This truly is an enterprise only for the brave. It’s not just cold, it’s bone-chilling cold.

Vancouver Island surfing destinations—specifically at Long Beach near Tofino, BC—may not be tropical locales, but they are still home to incredible surfing and stunning scenery. Winter swells have been known to reach six metres (20 feet), which is challenging even for the best surfer, but there are also plenty of sheltered beaches offering easy, beginner-friendly surf. Pacific Ocean waters off Vancouver Island are a cool 8°C (46°F) during winter months. Brave surfers in these water wear 5mm neoprene wetsuits, booties, gloves and a hood, although lighter gear (4mm) can be worn in summer when temperatures average 16°C (60°F). Surf gear rentals are available at numerous local surf shops including Long Beach Surf shop.

Cold water surfing isn’t just a phenomenon off Canada’s west coast, it’s happening all over the world, as described in an article in U.K.’s Telegraph. The obvious bonus of cold water surfing is being able to find the perfect wave without the crowds in exotic places such as  . Often, the best swells in these waters don’t arrive until the winter months.

Tips for taking on surfing in cold conditions:

  • wear a (don’t cheap out), and all the accompanying cold-water gear
  • stretch before going into the water to stimulate your blood flow
  • wear layers so that warm air can get trapped between them
  • don’t go out alone, ever!

Did you know, cold water surfing aficionados claim that if you can speak normally when you come out after surfing, you weren’t cold water surfing?

#3 Ice Climbing

Recommended website: Canadian Rockies Adventure Centre

Typically, ice climbing is available from late November through until April—at least in the Northern Hemisphere—but the optimum season in Canada is December to mid-March. There are two types of ice climbing: (1) climbing up frozen water, and (2) climbing on snow that is frozen. The one thing to know is that not all ice is created equal. There is soft ice and rotten ice, ice that is described as brittle, blue, black, or even plastic, ice that’s shaped like cauliflower, and ice that can shatter like a chandelier.

Ice climbing takes a lot of strength and endurance and is very difficult and dangerous because of the extreme conditions; however, ice climbing is becoming more accessible because you can learn in a non-extreme environment offered by indoor climbing gymnasiums. More and more, climbing gyms in North America are building indoor routes using artificial ice. Once you learn the proper techniques and get in good physical shape, then you can test your skills as an ice climber in the outdoors. The ice climbing sub-culture is growing and boasts festivals in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

The Canadian Rockies are a spectacular place to ice climb, especially Mt. Yamnuska, but if you don’t live near the Rockies, there are still plenty of locations to choose from and plenty of courses to take, such as those offered at the Apex Mountain School in California.

Did you know, ice is so strong that if the ice axe goes in just a mere centimeter (less than half an inch), it’s still strong enough for the climber to pull himself up?

#4 Boondocking

Recommended website: Boodocking

Boondocking, known by some as off-the-grid style camping, primitive camping, dispersed camping, dry camping, or coyote camping, describes a camping experience without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups. Generally, it’s in rural countryside and in dense bush. Because off-the-grid camping puts you in the midst of the wilderness, you have a true opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life. Boondocking is for brave outdoor enthusiasts who are not looking for defined recreational activities or opportunities to meet people, but who are instead interested in soaking in the natural beauty of their wilderness surroundings. Boondockers often prefer National Forest land in the U.S. and Crown Land in Canada where they can set up camp for free. Those who are concerned about being evicted by over zealous park rangers tend to carry binoculars for bird-watching at sunrise.

If you’re looking for boondocking opportunities on Vancouver Island, choose from one of these back roads map books that have credible and detailed maps to indicate where you can find cheap or free areas to camp in remote areas. For locations in Western Canada, Woody’s RV lists a range of reliable links and information about taking your RV to the wilds of the backcountry, while in the U.S., Boondocking.org has a list of GPS coordinates of recommended boondocking spots. For a wider reach, Boondockers Welcome is a site that invites like-minded boondocking enthusiasts to make camp in their specific area of the world, all over the globe.

Did you know that for some outdoor enthusiasts, boondocking is not a recreational activity but a long-term lifestyle choice?

Regardless of your level of courage in tackling any or all of these outdoor activities for the brave, remember the number one rule after safety is: HAVE FUN!

Which one of these activities-for-the-brave is on your bucket list? Which activities have you already done? Leave your comments here or join the discussion on our Facebook page!