They say it’s the City of Brotherly Love. But it’s also the city of extreme sports. Philly’s alternative sports scene is capable of producing some intense adrenaline rushes. It just depends on whether you’d rather be in the air or on the ground. In most cases, though, these sports involve both.
Skydiving, rock climbing and skateboarding are three extreme sports that are very accessible within the city of Philadelphia.
Interested in jumping out of an airplane? Of course it sounds crazy; skydiving isn’t for the weak of heart. It just so happens that for Philly residents, taking a skydiving adventure isn’t that difficult. Skydive Philadelphia, one of the few skydiving outfitters in the Greater Philadelphia area, facilitates jumps right out of the Philadelphia International Airport.
They offer the choice of taking either a Tandem or Accelerated Free Fall jump. If you opt for the Tandem jump, it only requires about an hour of instruction and training, then you’re ready for the sky.
Tandem jumping means you’re attached to the harness of an experienced skydiving instructor. The Accelerated Free Fall option requires a four-to- six-hour training course, but if you want the freedom of skydiving solo, then the AFF is the way to experience skydiving.
Dave Mariano, a junior political science and Latin American studies double major, has been skydiving for a year and a half. Mariano already has 15 jumps under his belt. Better known as ‘Super Dave’ by his friends on campus – it’s easy to understand why.
“The universal skydiving motto is ‘take risks not to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping,'” Mariano said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie. I love to skydive because it never gets old. You jump out of a plane 14,000 feet in the air and when you hit the ground you think to yourself ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just jumped out of an airplane.'”
The craziness doesn’t stop with skydiving. Rock climbing, instead of cooperating with gravity, does just the opposite. It involves taking strategic routes up the face of rock walls, which can range in difficulty.
Ryan Bright, a junior geology major, has been climbing with Temple’s rock climbing club for two years.
“Climbing is a great stress reliever,” Bright said. “It really motivates you as well. I always find myself going back for more. Climbing totally brings the mind, body and soul together into one exhilarating feeling.”
The typical equipment required includes climbing shoes, chalk (to dry the hands for gripping the rock), a harness and belaying system (if you’re top-roping), helmets for more dangerous situations, a crash pad if you’re opting to boulder.
In top-roping, a rope and harness system is utilized to connect the climber to the crag. In bouldering, that connecting system is absent.
Philadelphia offers a few indoor climbing facilities. Go Vertical’s rock climbing gym, located at 950 N. Penn St., is one of the closest climbing gyms to Main Campus. You can also check out Philadelphia Rock Gym, located at East 520 N. Circle Dr. in Oaks, Pa. Both have relatively cheap climbing fees, provide instruction and are open seven days a week.
Another sport available seven days a week, and often 24 hours a day is skateboarding. Who would have thought that putting wheels on a board could be pure genius? More people than you think. Elite Sports, a skate shop at 611 South St., supports the Philadelphia skateboarding scene 100 percent. Joe K. and “Caezar” Mark, both longtime employees of Elite Sports, are also veterans on the Philly skating scene.
“Philly has a rich melting pot of skaters,” Mark said. “Everybody knows everybody. It’s the roots of the sport that really drive it forward. People just having fun and tearing as hard as they can.”
“There’s something in this city for every type of skater out there,” said Joe K. “You’re never pressured. You just do what you want and have fun. That’s really what skating is all about.”
One of the main reasons freshman business major Derek Bradley came to Temple was because of the skating opportunities.
“Temple’s campus is one of the best skating spots in the city,” Bradley said. “If you skate, you’ll never get bored in Philly.”
So when you think Philadelphia, think extreme. To put it in better terms, this city is flat out gnarly. Once you kick it on Philly’s extreme sports scene for a while, nothing your biology professor throws at you in those 8:40 a.m. lectures will ever be scary again. Promise.
T.C. Mazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.