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Snowkiting and pictured is Paul Berube the owner of PBKiteboarding
Snowkiting and pictured is Paul Berube the owner of PBKiteboarding

Extreme winter enthusiasts show off their frigid passions Add to ...





Snowkiting

Paul Berube, a former architectural designer who lives in Toronto, became so enamoured with kite-boarding that he quit his job in 2004 and launched a company dedicated to the sport, PBKiteboarding. Come winter, he doesn't stop whipping around in the wind. Several times a week, the 49-year-old is out on Lake Simcoe or Lake Ontario snowkiting, a sport where you cruise along snow or ice on skis or a snowboard being pulled by a kite, and sometimes leaping 20 or so feet in the air. "It's totally unstructured."

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Gear: "All you need is your skis or snowboard, a harness and a kite. And you don't need a big kite, since you're on the snow it's easier to glide along, unlike on water where you can sink."



Where to do it: "Typically it's a lake because of all the room to move around, but people are doing it on fields, too."



How it all started: "I got in to kiteboarding first. I saw some people doing it by Cherry Beach, in Toronto. And I used to go hang-gliding and windsurfing - I've always loved wind sports. Once I saw kiteboarding, I knew I had to try it. I loved it, and figured hey, why not do this in the winter, too."



The appeal: "I like the freedom of it. You're not in a crowded area like you would be on a ski hill. It's wide open and you're working with the power of the wind the whole time. You can basically go anywhere you want. There's no lift ticket required. You can go for hours. There's no waiting for the chairlift."



Thrill ride: "You can get going pretty fast. Some people have gone up to even 100 kilometres an hour. And besides the speed, there's the jumping. You can get up to 30 feet in the air when you're used to it. It's almost like a sling-shot type of effect. It's not a thing for beginners because you can land pretty hard. I like jumping a lot. You can think of it as an extreme sport, but it can also be very, very mild if you want it to be."



This interview has been condensed and edited.

Winter surfing

It didn't take Reed Holmes long to get on a surfboard after moving from Toronto to Halifax in 2003. He's got his limits, of course. "My cutoff's sort of around -10C" says the 41-year-old web content provider, but there's nothing like catching a wave, even if there is snow on the shore. To help promote surfing on the east coast, Mr. Holmes co-founded ScotiaSurfer.com, a site dedicated to surfing in Nova Scotia.



Gear: "A full wetsuit that has a hood and that is five or six millimetres thick. And you also have to have booties, gloves and mitts all made out of neoprene. The equipment's getting better and better, so you can go out on colder and colder days."



Where to do it: "Anywhere there are waves. Surfing in Halifax is great. You definitely get some big days. We have a rocky shoreline, so you get a lot of long point breaks, which you tend not to get out west."



How it all started: "A buddy of mine who I drove out to Halifax with had heard about surfing there and so checked it out right after we got here. I just got hooked on it."



The appeal: "It's a real challenge to master. It took me about 10 times before I was able to catch a wave. You're trying to balance the board, you're trying to stand up, you have to put your feet in the right place. It's hard. The first time I caught a wave I was pumped, for sure. I was up on the board doing a fist pump as I was going in."



Thrill ride: "There's a real thrill you get from catching a wave. You're close to nature, you're outside, you're in the water. And there's a daredevil side of it where you're not really supposed to be in the water at that time of year. It's kind of a crazy time to be in the water. Even when I'm exhausted after catching a wave I'll think, you know what, I'm going to get one more."



This interview has been condensed and edited.

Ice climbing

Adrian Burke took up ice climbing, ascending frozen waterfalls, around 1997. "My co-workers kind of look at me like I'm out of my mind," says the 43-year-old former B.C. resident who now works in digital marketing for L'Oreal in New York. With his wife still living on the west coast, Mr. Burke makes regular trips back to his old home, where he usually heads out to the mountains with a pair of axes for a climb.



Gear: "The absolute minimum, if you're top-roping, you really just need a rope, some slings and carabiners, metal loops to run rope through, and then a harness, boots and crampons and a pair of ice axes."



Where to do it: "Marble Canyon is a very popular place to ice climb in B.C. There are a lot of great climbs in B.C. Some of the best ice climbing in the entire world is in the Canadian Rockies."



How it all started: "I was getting into mountaineering, and half the time you might be rock climbing and half the time you might be trudging through snow. From there, it was a natural progression to ice."



The appeal: "It's about the thrill and the excitement and the risk. But it's also about being in the outdoors and climbing yourself into really cool situations and environments that you would never, never be in otherwise. Hanging off the side of a waterfall screwed into the ice doesn't happen every day."



Thrill ride: "It's a lot scarier than other forms of climbing, other than intense mountaineering. The ice has all sorts of different consistencies. If you get into very low temperatures, you hit the ice with your axe and it shatters - we call it dinner plating because the ice pops off in these huge plate-size slabs. It's definitely an adrenalin rush. But it's all measured risk. Once, climbing Louise Falls in Lake Louise, I was probably 30 or 40 feet above my last screw, so if I had fallen I would have fallen about 80 feet. I had one axe and both footholds pop off at the same time. I was hanging from one axe. That was absolutely terrifying."



This interview has been condensed and edited.

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