Wild Winter Adventures From Around the World
This winter saw broken records for snowfall, frigidy low temperatures and other wicked weather. You can't escape it, so why not experience the glory in all the wild, windblown and white-out adventures that it brings? Here's what daredevils are up to in the far-flung corners of the world, once the barometer hits post blizzard temperatures. Join them if you dare.
By Lena Katz
Scandinavian Ice Driving
What a ride! Primarily done in Scandinavia on frozen lakes, this ultra high-adrenaline sport puts daredevil drivers behind the wheel of high-performance cars that have been customized to thrive on the ice. Slide across the track, rev to high speeds and experience the thrill of pushing the limits; sometimes taking you sideways, for the normal laws of road propulsion are null and void on the ice. Because of this, the cars at commercial ice rally outfitters like icedriver.com are outfitted with special safety and offroad handling features.
Mammoth Ice Climbing
An offshoot of mountaineering, this endurance sport was first popularized in the Alps. Ice climbing utilizes ice axes, sharp crampons and a specialized rope system to bring brave, knowledgable, experienced, professionally led climbers straight up alpine ice formations, rock/ice routes and frozen waterfalls. It's a more precision sport than rock climbing and a more dangerous one. Ice climbing takes place everywhere from the rugged mountains of Alaska, Colorado and Mammoth (pictured) to...
UIAA World Cup in Korea
...indoor multi-story garages in Europe, among the urban spaces that host UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) Ice Climbing World Cup events.
Photo Credit: Rozle Bregar
Winter adventures evolve as fast as humans can master a pastime enough to put a spin on it. Just as ice climbing was born of mountaineering and rock climbing, the new sport of skijoring was created as a hybrid between skiing and dog sledding. Or skate-skiing and wakeboarding. The concept is the same. Humans on short skis are towed across snow by dogs or horses. Another variation takes place on the ice. It's popular everywhere from Mongolia to Wisconsin to Norway, from whence the word hailed.
Dog Sleds in the Yukon Territory
The long-distance dog sled races of the frigid north have become iconic wintertime traditions due to the sportsmanship (from man and beast alike), the stunning terrain thatí's traversed, and the epic nature of the races. The 1000-mile Yukon Quest course starts in Yukon, Canada and ends near Fairbanks, Alaska. At Chena Hot Springs Resort, 40 miles from Fairbanks, aspiring Quest racers can learn the basics of dog mushing.
Chena Hot Springs in Alaska
For people who like it hot and cold, the Chena Hot Springs are open year round. Take a dip in the healing waters of the 18+ adult rock lake.
Aurora Ice Museum in Alaska
After a rejuvenating soak, bundle up and head over to Aurora Ice Museum. After a guided tour, you can sip a signature apple martini and take a late night Snow Coach Northern Lights tours.
Finland Reindeer Safari
Just like Alaska, Finland excels at winter adventures because extreme winters are a part of life. In Lapland, the reindeer sleigh ride has evolved from being a mode of transportation to a cultural tradition and visitor activity. Take it one step further and go on a "reindeer safari" multi-day exploration of the Arctic Circle. You'll sleep in the rough and learn the ancient traditions of the nomadic Sami "reindeer people."
Finland Igloo Hotel
Also in Finland, experience Hotel Kakslauttanen, called "Igloo Village." It boasts a glass igloo specially designed for viewing the Northern Lights. These traditional snow igloos allow guests to stay overnight during the winter. If those sleeping conditions are a bit too frigid, the resort also offers cozy log cabins and one "Honeymoon Turf Chamber" which is actually built of wood but covered with a protective layer of turf to make it extra warm and intimate. If you don't picture yourself camping don't worry, the "Turf Chamber" has Versace stylings and its own Finnish sauna.
Quebec's Hotel de Glace
Ice hotels have become a seasonal attraction in places cold enough to sustain them during the winter months. Beautiful and almost otherworldly, these structures, like Quebec's HŰtel de Glace, are art installations that accommodate guests. Some people just come to admire, some want to have a meal or a drink in sub-zero temperatures just for the novelty of it, and some want the full experience of overnighting in a block of ice.