Sunday, September 19 2021

To look for: Surf on volcanoes // 1200 words

You have no idea how cool I feel writing about Volcano Surfing right now.

I didn’t know it existed. I mean, I’m not sure a lot of people even thought about it. But to think of surfing the side of a volcano – erupting or not – seems pretty badass to me.

It takes place in a magical place: Cerro Negro, which is near Leon, Nicaragua.

Photo: @brit_wood__ on Instagram

What is Volcano Boarding / Surfing?

Volcano surf / Volcanoboarding is a sport that takes place on the side of a volcano. Riders of all ages, origins and intentions climb the volcano, then descend in turn.

Sometimes volcano surfers sit on their butt and slide on a board. Other much more daring, skillful and downright daring surfers stand on this board and do their thing.

You know, like risking being hit by molten lava.

Reported Risks of Surfing on Volcanoes / Is boarding on volcanoes safe?

As an extreme sport, you have to be very careful when surfing volcanoes. Potential dangers can include, but are not limited to:

  • Fall and get cut by raw volcanic ash
  • Breathing toxic gases
  • Contract histoplasmosis (aka “caver disease”)
  • Being hit by a flight of molten lava.

Let’s say it again. One of the dangers is being hit by molten lava.

It doesn’t get much more badass than that.

Surfing on volcanoes in nicaragua
Photo: @rus_mavrodinov on Instagram

Naturally, volcano surfing has spawned a whole new creative industry: clothes for surfing volcanoes.

you must Standing Equipment for this sport, my friend. You can go with coveralls and goggles, as most people do. Coveralls and glasses are considered the bare minimum. Although, given the type of person who is going to be looking for this, I would put money on someone doing it naked. However, Google had nothing to help me.

In any event. In addition to overalls and goggles, you can of course add gloves, special slippers and helmets. There are different patches to protect different parts of your body. However, I find it hard to try to think of what could protect me from the molten lava splashes. OK I will stop.

Where to surf volcanoes in Nicaragua

You can surf a volcano in Nicaragua, and in fact, Nicaragua is one of the only places in the world where you can do such a thing.

Surf on the volcano
Photo: @coupleofthingstosee on Instagram

Cerro Negro, Leon

Cerro Negro is near León in western Nicaragua. City of art, the immense cathedral of León has made an architectural fusion of baroque and neoclassical styles. The nearby Ortiz-Gurdián Foundation Art Center stands out for its collection of contemporary European and Latin American art.

In geological terms, Cerro Negro is a baby. It is the youngest volcano in all of Central America, and also one of the most active. Considering how many volcanoes there are in Central America, that’s quite the humble boast.

Did you know that volcanoes form when magma from the Earth’s upper mantle rises to the surface? Once there, it erupts to form lava flows and ash deposits.

In addition, as the the volcano continues to erupt over time it will only get bigger.

So fascinating that it takes me off the rails. Thus, volcanoes are considered “born” when magma first rises to the surface. Cerro Negro was born in 1850, and since then it has erupted 23 times!

The last time it exploded was in 1999. Then it was when volcanic surfing started to… surface as a trend.

The Black Hill, as it is also called, is threatening. In other words… another eruption is overdue.

An unusual aspect of most eruptions was the emission of ash from the top of the cone. While this is happening, lava gushes out of fractures at the base.

History of Cerro Negro

As we have seen, Cerro Negro erupted for the first time on April 13, 1850. Its volcanic activity lasted until May 27 of the same year. The eruption affected both land and properties in neighboring areas.

Surf on the volcano
Eruption of Cerro Negro in 1948. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

The second eruption took place on November 14, 1867. This time, the volcano’s activity lasted until November 30. The third eruption of Cerro Negro took place 32 years later and lasted only a few days – from November 22 to 29, 1899.

He continues, with the dates showing consistency: Inconsistency. In other words, we have no idea when this big baby is going to explode its lid again. No idea at all.

The scientific thing

Cerro Negro is technically a ‘cinder cone’, which is a type of volcanic hill formed fairly quickly over time. Thanks to “throaty belching” filled with pyroclastic debris gas, the volcano erupts hot ash from its central vent. Then, and that’s what’s different, it oozes lava at its base.

The high concentration of warm and soft ash at the top allows for perfect surfing. The ash at the top is replenished on a weekly basis, basically. Think “fresh” when you snowboard.

These conditions seem absolutely perfect for tying a board to your feet (or buttocks) and riding that ash all the way to the bottom.

Then you can add the fact that the gentle slopes are also the perfect angle for boarding! This 167-year-old Nicaraguan baby volcano is home to some of the world’s most daring daredevils. People build different types of boards and then come and see how their inventions fare on the slopes.

Groups of boarders will take a one hour hike up the side of the mountain. As a result, one at a time they will descend and time each other. Of course, Go-Pros abound, and there are amazing videos of people descending the flank of this active volcano.

Boarding on the Bigfoot Hostel volcano

Surf on the volcano
Photo: @drieslemoine on Instagram

To visit

Impossible to end an article on the surf volcano without mentioning its founder.

Australian thrill seeker Darryn Webb created the extreme sport in 2004. The first thing he chose to go down the volcano would have been, was a refrigerator. Not just any refrigerator, however.

It was a refrigerator removed from a hotel minibar.

From there, as a result, Darryn climbed on his mattress along the volcano. And then, his front door.

He took everything he learned and created a seated slide out of metal and Formica reinforced plywood. It was the first time the world had seen a volcano surf.

From there, Darryn moved all-in and opened Big Foot Hostel in Leon. To date, he and his team have sent over 20,000 people to the slopes. They reached speeds of up to 101 km / h!

In addition to taking you on the epic journey of a lifetime, Darryn will also give you a place to stay for the experience. He opened a hostel that offers beds for as little as $ 6.

Tours depart daily at 9 a.m. and you should be ready 30 minutes before. You will be back at the hostel around 3 p.m. The tour itself will set you back $ 25 per person, plus $ 5 for entrance fees to the national park.

The beauty of this business is that if you want to rent a board you can get one for $ 5. In turn, they give this money to the inhabitants. Annnnd, major bonus: $ 5 of your ticket can be used at the bar for all guests staying at the hostel!

It’s a major gig on the to-do list, folks. I’m in it, flying molten lava and everything.


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