Ready to Take the Risk?
Life without risk is boring, and here we completely agree with you. However, if you decide to quench your thirst for the extreme with these sports, be doubly cautious: they kill people no worse than illness!
1. Base jumping
Videos of base jumpers are really impressive. But this sport also has a downside: the sport, which consists in jumping from high places, almost holds the record death rate. And for good reason: in the end, jumpers develop a speed of over 200 km/h! And this audience is not one of those that eschew the risk: base jumpers are not afraid of through passes on mountain clefts, or maneuvering between trees. Needless to say, not even a month passes without tragic news: Believe it or not, Norwegian scientists somehow analyzed more than twenty thousand documented jumps – and came to the conclusion that the probability of dying here is slightly more than one two-thousandth.
However, do not turn away from all base jumping at once: in this kind of sport, there are some guidelines, and more than half the deaths happen during the most risky of them – the wingsuit jumps. And those, in general, differ in their level of danger: thus, 73% of death leaps occur on mountainous terrain. As a rule, in this case, the cause of the jumper’s death is a clash with the rocks: the sportsman or sportswoman does not have time to open the parachute – or, as was the case with Dean Potter, incorrectly calculates the trajectory.
Jumpers don’t operate only in the mountains: often, their ramps are just cliffs and objects of urban development. You will be surprised, but the figures speak for themselves: maneuvering between skyscrapers is much safer than maneuvering between rocks.
2. Hang gliding
A good “competition” for base jumpers in terms of risk of death are hang gliders – hang gliding is quite comparable to base jumping by the number of victims. Despite the full equipment and impressive size of the aircraft itself, the hang glider is not immune to fatal accidents. On the contrary even: often, their reason to engage in the sport is just the unwieldiness of a hang glider. One of the most dangerous situations is take-off: any indecision or lethargy at the start can lead to the wind immediately deploying the aircraft towards the slope.
No less dangerous is when a sudden tailwind happens before landing: the hang glider will start to quickly pick up speed, and not everybody in this situation will guess the speed to deploy his or her “device” on the reverse course – often, beginners instinctively try to slow down, and, as a result, fly into the slope. The speed can be more than 100 km/h – after such a strike, as a rule, no one survives. Add to this the risk of flying into a power line, through cloudy weather, and into birds – here’s the sad statistics: out of one thousand gliders, one dies.
3. Prolonged jump with a parachute
After base jumping and hang-gliding, a simple jump with a parachute seems like child’s play – just pull the cord in time! – but this is only an illusion. The risk factors are several: entangled slings, a squall that can carry the jumper very far from the designated landing spot – for example, in the sea. Plus, another serious threat is the pressure drop, capable, for example, of “disabling” the unfortunate parachutist right in the air. Approximate statistics of deaths – one out of one hundred and sixty thousand.
However, if you are determined to jump with a parachute, do not be afraid: the height from which you will jump is likely much less than the one that the aces of a protracted jump prefer. In addition, next to you, most likely, will be an instructor. And he or she will be able to rectify the situation if something suddenly goes wrong. Well, he or she should, at least.
4. Cave diving
It’s dangerous to conquer the air, but water is even more dangerous! At the same time, classical diving can still be considered safe enough – at least after three or four months of training in a diving club. But its deep-water variation – diving in underwater caves – is closely competing with the above sports in terms of riskiness. Judge for yourself: more than eight thousand victims each year are huge figures, given the rather modest popularity of cave diving.
True, not all of these eight thousand die – but those who manage to avoid trouble and swim to the surface, most often will have earned a lifetime disability. The cause of most of these tragedies is not the lack of oxygen. Divers are most likely to experience problems with the heart and lungs, intolerable headaches and so-called nitrogen anesthesia – the clouding of consciousness due to an overabundance of nitrogen at a depth of more than thirty meters. And whereas an ordinary diver can immediately begin to ascend upon approaching the first symptoms, then the cave diver can only dream of such speediness: in order to rise to the surface, he or she must first get out of the cave. And the circumstances, sometimes, interfere: the line (something of a guiding thread for the cave diver) can get tangled, representatives of the local fauna can poke at his or her face, and the lights can go off as if to spite him or her.
Studies of the depths of the sea, no doubt, are much more dangerous than the saddle of waves – and yet, according to the Monash University (Australia), for every one hundred thousand surfers annually, there are two or three deaths. Considering that almost all the population on the coasts of Australia, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and a dozen other coastal countries is made out of surfers, the final figure is very significant! However, the usual kind of surfing, though traumatic, is almost unrelated with fatality. More often, statistics are filled with the conquerors of large waves. Can you imagine what a fast series of huge waves can lead to? At least to a lack of oxygen: it just so happens that the release from the water trap takes several minutes.
Another, though not as frequent a problem of surfers, are sharks. For the last half-century of observations, there has not been a year that these predators did not decide to eat a surfer.
Here, we are unlikely to surprise you: motorcycles have never been considered a particularly safe mode of transport. What is worse is the safety in motorcycle sports: despite the professionalism of the participants, the mortality statistics in motorsports are quite frightening – one death per thousand. Not to mention the injuries: even on an ideal route, despite all the precautions, accidents are not uncommon.
However, the cause of most injuries (and some deaths) are not even accidents, but an incredible centrifugal force: approaching a turn at speeds of 300 km/h may very well lead to damage to the athlete’s internal organs. Add to this a continuous tension – both physical and mental – and the fact that, during the race, the rider can lose up to five kilograms of body weight, and it will not seem surprising to you.
7. The Conquest of the Mountains
Safety ropes, metal carbines, oxygen cylinders – engineers, in general, have taken good care of climbers. Depressing statistics of deaths – one for one thousand seven hundred and fifty people – are primarily due to daredevils who prefer to rely on the potential of their own body when climbing. Moreover: these madmen refuse to recognize any kind of insurance. Therefore, we have to follow their ascent with a sinking heart.
Climbers also do not lag behind in what concerns replenishing sad statistics. And in their case, the reason for the tragedies is not arrogance or a passion for adrenaline: more often, it is severe weather conditions, avalanches and the resulting snow heaps. (Sometimes, climbers even survive, but their food does not last them until they are rescued). In addition, do not write off the cable snapping, altitude sickness and hypothermia – they have taken away an impressive number of brave souls.
An ordinary rafting along the river can be no less dangerous. If you ever passed the rapids on a kayak, you know why: rafters expect bare stones, high current speed and raging water. Of course, this extreme is not enough: extreme rafters choose routes with a maximum of six points of difficulty – such rivers are usually a whole cascade of waterfalls, ruts, clamps and underwater pockets – grottoes formed during the destruction of rocks. From the usual kayak, there would be only flinders left.
How dangerous is this? On some “six-point” routes of Altai, the mortality rate is 50%! The reason for this is not only the fall from the raft or its coup (it happens too), but also hypothermia. Can you guess what the temperature is in mountain rivers?
9. Alpine skiing and snowboarding
You will be surprised, but the mortality of winter sports is very, very high. However, do not rush to take away the board from your child: public routes exist without a single fatal incident for years. Almost all deaths in winter sports are concentrated into two categories: ski jumping and heli-skiing. And no wonder: in the first case, you would have to fly a hundred meters too far, then somehow land, and in the second and even worse – to fall from the helicopter down on the slope, where no man has gone before.
The variant with the helicopter is slightly more dangerous – according to statistics, one of five thousand five hundred and sixty jumps leads to the death of the athlete. (And this is minor, considering that, on the slope, anything can happen: from a landslide to getting buried under the snow). The jump from the springboard is much more predictable – in fact, the only task for the skier is the correct landing. And yet, a hundred-meter flight is not a joke – out of eight thousand jumps, one is the last.
No conquest of air, mountain slopes or water – in boxing, man is opposed by man. However, the statistics of deaths shows that such conflict is far from safe. Check for yourself: according to the activist Manuel Velasquez, over the past hundred and twenty years, more than a thousand six hundred boxers died in the ring – and this is only during sparring!
Deaths from injuries sustained as a result of a fight are not minor either. And do not think that modern boxing is softer – according to the Journal of Combative Sport, since 1993, more than seventy boxers have died on the ring. Do you wonder why it was boxing, not MMA, that appeared to be the most dangerous kind of sport – a seemingly much tougher kind of martial arts? The figures speak for themselves: from the same year of 1993, the victims of mixed martial arts competitions were fewer than ten people. And the reason for this is just that the MMA rules do not regulate the fighting style: knockouts – the main cause of death in the boxing ring – are inferior to the much less dangerous pain and suffocating techniques.