Sunday, June 4, 2017

Volcano Boarding

After completing three weeks of coursework and giving final presentations, the team was ready to experience some more culture. We went on an adventure to do something that was only possible in Nicaragua—volcano boarding.
After completing three weeks of coursework and giving final presentations on our research projects, the team was ready to experience some more culture. The entire company went on an adventure to do something that was only possible in Nicaragua. We ascended the mountain of Cerro Negro or the “The Black Hill” to go volcano boarding. What makes this the only location in the world where this activity is practiced is its unique meteorology. The volcano is known to have consistently west prevailing winds with an average speed of 60 kph at the peak, this diverts the fine grain ash to the west side of the mountain while the larger rubble falls to the east. Using these fine ashes, it’s possible to sled down the side of the mountain dropping 728 meters in a matter of seconds.

The mountain lives exactly up to its name, being entirely black, coated in different kinds of metamorphic rock. We started up the gradual 40 min hike up to the summit. With our guide leading the way he told us about the history of Cerro Negro and how it is the most active volcano in Nicaragua, last erupting in 1999. While walking up we found the remnants of a volcanic activity recording station that had been eaten away by acid rain caused by the ever-steaming volcanic sulfur mixing with the atmosphere.

Upon reaching the summit, our guide had us unpack our bags to reveal protective equipment including, goggles, gloves, a bandana, and a full body protective suit. We were ready to ride. After a safety demonstration, we each lined up and awaited the signal to start from our guide. With a slope of 41° the trip looked very imposing. However, everyone built up the courage and hunkered down for a trip. The ride was a crazy amount of fun, rushing down the mountain with the whole team competing to see who could get down the fastest. There were a couple of tumbles but everyone was prepared and just laughed it off. At the bottom, we all smiled and laughed about how dirty we had all gotten and took lots of photos. Our guide then thanked us for taking the journey with him and gave us some fresh fruit to help mitigate all of that used-up energy. We all dusted off our equipment, jumped back in the vans, and quickly fell asleep on our journey back to the hostel in León. This was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.


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