This new year, unearth another skill or passion. For the winter season, we thought we would share our top winter sports that you should get outdoors and try.
If you are a regular skier or boarder and are looking for more excitement, then snow kiting is the next level for you! Snow kiting is essentially an outdoor winter sport where people use kite power to glide on snow or ice whilst on skis, or a snowboard. When you are riding on frozen inland lakes and fields, almost any wind direction is rideable. The colder air is also denser, providing more power with less wind speed. You can ride in winds from 9-30 mph depending on your type of kite. However, we recommend that if you’re a beginner don't try anything over 15mph until you are confident.
Powder snow boating or kayaking has gradually increased in popularity in recent years, although it has been around since about 2002. Operating a kayak on snow works almost exactly the same as it does on the water. You just allow gravity of the slope to help you speed down instead of the current of a river pushing you along. Races for snow kayaking have been held - this is occasionally organised in some resorts but more often is done in the backcountry. There is no denying that this is a dangerous sport, with kayaks having known to reach speeds of 50-60 mph as they race down slopes. If you’re tempted to try this, make sure you wear a helmet and take a lesson with a professional or certified teacher.
Ice Sailing, also known as ice boating and ice yachting, is sailing across frozen bodies of water. This sport requires a sleek sailboat mounted on runners, which glides across a frozen lake or pond. Originally this was not a sport, but rather a way to process goods across frozen lakes and rivers back in the 17th Century. Now ice sailing has become popular for breaking world speed records. With some incredible speeds on record, the highest currently stands at 116mph and is held by Richard Jenkins. This is a sport that can be quite dangerous - but also incredibly exciting! To compete in ice sailing it requires a specific set of skills. Ensure you get the proper training and equipment before trying this sport out for yourself.
Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations and is great for anyone interested in pushing their climbing skills further. If you’re a rock climber looking for a challenge, this will certainly be it. The most important piece of advice we can give you if you’re looking to get into this sport is to take a lesson – even if you’re an experienced rock climber. You may know the ropes, but with the added element of ice, there are more risks, so it’s worth knowing everything you can to avoid any injuries. There are many climbing facilities and courses that you can go to before you try the real thing to give yourself more experience and time to prepare. Ice climbing can be difficult because it requires strength and stamina to move upwards at a steady pace. However, the most experienced of climbers talk of a state of inner peace that is almost meditative when climbing and definitely worth the effort!
This winter, trade in your bicycle for a fat bike! Cycling through the snow on a fat-tire bike is a great workout because it requires more effort to pedal on snow. A fat bike is equipped with thicker tires, deeper grooves and lower air pressure so it can easily tackle unexpected weather and terrain. If you’re looking for a new winter sport to try out without a great deal of commitment, this is the right sport for you. For winter cycling, you don’t need special training to learn the correct skills or how to use the equipment beforehand. Also, all the extra equipment you need is a fat bike, which can easily be rented from most bike and mountain gear stores.
Get the Gear
Our biggest tip when it comes to taking up snow sports is to make sure you are comfortable, warm and protected at all times. Otherwise, activities in the snow can become very unenjoyable, and we believe you should always feel comfortable when trying to explore the outdoors. To do so, you need to invest in good outerwear and dress in layers. All you really need is a good non-cotton thermal that doesn’t soak up your sweat, therefore it can’t freeze in the cold and a lightweight but waterproof jacket. But don’t forget that the rest of your gear is just as important as a good jacket! If it’s your first time attempting one of these sports, you’re likely to end up in the snow quite a lot, so you want to have good quality, waterproof, windproof but breathable gloves. Are you inspired to take up one of these snow sports or have you already found your preferred winter activity? Let us know in the comments below!