Cerro Negro (Black Hill) is home to Nicaragua’s most intense boarding sport: Volcano Boarding.
Imagine, smoke rising up from the crumbling rocks beneath your make-shift wooden board as you plummet 30 – 60 mph down the face of an active volcano. If you fall in volcano boarding, prepare to pay in flesh.
The journey begins by hiking up to the summit of the volcano, black ash and loose rocks shifting beneath your feet with every step. The journey, an ascent of 2,388 ft., is approximately a 45-minute hike with your wooden boards strapped tightly on your back. Once you reach the top, you have two options of descent: standing or sitting.
If you’re a snowboarder, and if your courage hasn’t yet withered away from the climb, you can ride down the face of the volcano whilst standing up on the board. However if you’re an inexperienced boarder, maybe you’ll want to take the seated route and ride down the black rocks like a sled.
Actually, the seated route is also recommended if your goal is speed, as your centre of gravity is lower and closer to the back of the board. Although standing seems to offer a greater range of maneuverability, apparently turning on a volcano-board is not nearly as easy as it is on snow. Still, your opportunity to look like a badass in your Facebook profile photo increases when you stand.
In order to reduce friction, the bottom of a volcano-board is coated with metal. A piece of Formica plastic is also glued to the bottom of the board, which needs to be replaced after every one or two runs.
In order to reduce the potential of volcanic rock getting lodged in your skin, all boarders are provided with a protective one-piece suit.
What’s even more frightening than the prospect of rocketing down the side of a steaming volcano on nothing more than a thin plank of wood, is the fact that Cerro Negro is long overdue for an eruption. However, the eruptions occur on the other side of the mountain, which is what allows for the smooth board-able surface on the volcano’s west side.
Fortunately, the speed of lava rarely exceeds 10km/hour. So If the volcano were ever to erupt and hot lava came spilling down Cerro Negro’s west side, simply grab your volcano-board and shred yourself to safety on the most wild ride of your life.