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No Fear

Renowned outdoorsman Will Gadd on the six most extreme sports known to man


ROCK CLIMBING

SPORT MOST SUITED FOR: Anyone who heard, "Get down from there this second!" regularly while growing up.

TRAINING/STRENGTH REQUIRED: You need to be strong but without too much bulk. Gymnasts often do well, but my dad is 60 and still climbs regularly.

SCARE SCALE: Moderate. The climbing should be relatively safe, but watch for other hazards--such as poison ivy.

DESTINATION: The White Mountains, N.H. With its iconic granite cliffs, Yosemite is the more obvious choice, but the police-state attitude at the national park and hordes of camera-wielding tourists can make it feel more like Disneyland than wilderness. The White Mountains are just as thrilling, offering fantastic granite walls up to 1,500 feet high but without the zoo feeling. I've spent hundreds of days climbing these beautiful rocks--and the experience was absolutely as good as what you'd experience in any other top climbing destination anywhere in the world. North Conway is less than 10 miles from the soaring granite of Cathedral Ledge, and there's nothing better than climbing high above New England's fall colors.

WHERE TO LEARN: ime-usa.com/imcs/index.html

WHITEWATER KAYAKING

SPORT MOST SUITED FOR: Anyone who ever looked into the window of a circulating front-loader washing machine and thought, "What if?..."

TRAINING/STRENGTH REQUIRED: Good general fitness and flexibility. And for those still working on finding their abs, a little extra padding doesn't hurt.

SCARE SCALE: High -- but when else will you get to wear a skirt and still be a badass (a spray skirt, that is)? Besides, drowning is reportedly a peaceful death.

DESTINATION: Southeastern United States. Paddling in the South got a bad name with the movie Deliverance, but today many of the amazing rapids in the film are run by the best paddlers in the world. The Southeast has an amazing variety of rivers, from insane waterfalls and steep creeks to classics such as the New River, located in West Virginia. But all the rivers share one great feature over their more northern cousins: warm water. Those who learn to paddle in snowmelt will be blue with envy when they realize how pleasant kayaking can really be.

WHERE TO LEARN: otterbar.com

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