The Adrenaline Rush

Cayaking on Soča River. Photo: Aleš Fevžer


Can you imagine a summer holiday where, instead of lying idly on the beach, you boldly take on a series of adrenaline-filled adventures? In Slovenia, an increasing number of locals and foreigners alike choose this way of spending their holiday, or whatever free time they have on their hands. Contact with nature: good. Level of adventure: high!

So it is hardly surprising that Slovenes conquer the world’s highest peaks, climb the most difficult mountain faces, and set world records in the boldest of sporting feats, if extreme sports are indeed one of the nation’s favourite pastimes: this can be either a visit to an ‘adrenaline park’, tackling white water rapids in a raft, or on a hydro-speed board, a parachute jump, or a free-ride mountain bike descent.

Mountain-biking. Photo: Primož Lavre/Salomon 2000

The term ‘extreme sports’ applies to sports which include elements such as high speeds, great heights, danger, or some sort of acrobatics. Also dubbed ‘adrenaline sports’, these activities are characterised by rising levels of adrenaline in the blood, popularly referred to as an ‘adrenaline rush’.

It seems that our very nature pushes Slovenes to seek extreme boundaries, and Slovenian contestants achieve top results at extreme sporting events. To name a few: Jure Robič (1965-2010),  multiple winner of the world’s most demanding bicycle ultra-marathon, the RAAM (5 times, a record in the men's solo category); Martin Strel , ultra-marathon swimmer who has swum several thousands of miles of rivers and seas; Irena Avbelj and Primož Podobnik, winners of numerous parachuting titles, and a host of other top climbers, mountaineers, cyclists, skiers and runners.

Adrenaline sport aficionados from all over the world flock to Slovenia to enjoy in activities which demand a great deal of courage, concentration, nerve and, finally, pleasant relaxation. Such outdoor centres can be found in the Bovec area, around lakes Bled and Bohinj, near the town of Celje, and in the Koroška, Štajerska and Dolenjska regions, with great climbing areas at Kraški rob and in the Logarska Valley.

Slovenia truly offers many opportunities for thrilling yet at the same safe sporting adventures. Given that most of these sports require appropriate equipment to ensure safety, it is essential to contact one of the many specialised agencies, which not only rent equipment, but also provide expert guidance, so that you can enjoy the adrenaline rush safely.

Canyoning. Photo Salomon 2000

Water Adventures

Slovenes really love rafting, kayaking and river-boarding on the rapids of the rivers Soča and Krka. Guided trips offer unforgettable adrenaline adventures, with a great safety level, as the guides for the vast majority of sports centres have a lot of experience and use the best equipment. People are increasingly drawn to what is known as canyoning along the tributaries of the Soča and Sava – i.e. in the Bovec and Bohinj areas respectively. This sport is about discovering different stretches of the river, along with underground sections which can be as deep as 40 metres. Some may find descending into these caves rather eerie, as the underground world proves an entirely new experience.

Going for the Limit – with or without a Parachute

Parachuting is no longer a sport for the initiated and does not require any special skills, as several companies offer tandem jumps with an experienced parachutist. The key to adrenalin pleasures is to overcome one’s fear, as the adrenaline rush is proportionate to the amount of fear. One of the sports with the highest adrenaline rate is what is known as base jumping, which is becoming increasingly popular in Slovenia. The sport consists of a parachutist jumping from a fixed object – BASE is actually an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span – a bridge, a dome, etc., and Earth – a cliff or any other natural formation. These jumps are much more dangerous than jumping from a plane, as the jumper runs the risk of crashing into what they are jumping from. The most dangerous and, consequently, the most appealing jump ‘exit’ in Slovenia is believed to be the ‘Triglav Sphynx’ rock column.

Climbing

Rock climbing provides a particular adrenaline rush, and many have become so hooked on the sport after their first climb that this is all they want to do in terms of sports. Perhaps we should mention here a climbing discipline where accidental falls are usually fatal – ice climbing on frozen waterfalls and iced sections of ravines, where climbers make use of only a few ice climbing accessories or tools, and crampons attached to their boots. The difficulty of individual climbs depends on the inclination of the icy surface, its shape and other conditions affecting the frozen waterfall.

Another developing sport is abseiling, which consists of descending down a fixed rope, like special armed forces in action films. The thrill lies in the experience of a very fast descent from a precipitous cliff.

Adrenalin parks and other thrills

Adrenaline park. Photo: Roman Šipič

What is an adrenaline park? From a purely technical point of view, it is a polygon course raised between eight to fourteen metres above ground, consisting of various challenges for either individuals or groups (in North America, adrenaline parks are referred to as ‘Challenge Courses’). In addition to providing a great deal of the hormone in the name, adrenaline parks also prove extremely valuable in terms of experience and active learning, where each individual and their team(s) solve tasks in a way that suits them best. The initial tests as to how much adrenaline the participants can handle are usually performed on solid ground, and the bravest then prove their worth as high as fourteen metres above ground. Many Slovenes are very keen on so-called high rope adrenaline parks, which are set up high among the trees and enable visitors several hours of climbing on ropes surrounded by nature. These parks can be found at Ježica (the north suburb of Ljubljana), at the confluence of the Tolminka River, and near the town of Tržič.

Another very popular sport is mountain biking, especially the downhill variant, which requires great physical strength. Downhill bike parks, which in addition to good fitness require the use of protective equipment and where a great deal of experience is a must, can be found at the famous ski resorts at Kranjska gora, Maribor, Kope and Kanin.