Created in 2002 by adventurer and journalist Zoltan Istvan as he filmed himself plunging down Mt. Yassur in Vanuatu on his snowboard, Istvan presumably launched a new extreme sport that eventually caught the attention of National Geographic. In later writings he differentiated volcano boarding between it's two extremes- boarding down an active volcano amid dangerous molten lava and lethal gasses, and boarding down an inactive volcano with no real dangers present (similar to sand boarding).
Who knew sliding down an active volcano 30mph on a thin piece of plywood was so much fun! (and so dangerous)...
Depending on how extreme you want to get, there are a host of dangers one can be exposed to during a volcano boarding session. Either way, the first step is to get a board and start hiking up the mountain. Don't go alone- bring a friend so if anything does happen someone will be able to tell your story. Bring a GoPro or have someone take your picture en route. You'll look great in your one-piece suit for crash-and-bash protection, along with heavy duty gloves and goggles.
Volcanic ash is 'soft' and easy to break apart, but it's also very sharp and can shred regular clothes (and skin) quite easily.
Although standing looks cooler, when you sit on your board it's easier to build speed and make turns. Control your speed by putting your feet down in the ash at the outset. Once you're going fast enough, putting your feet down will most likely result in a big wipeout.
Which is where the 'extreme' part of the sport comes in. Wiping out on volcanic ash is not the same as wiping out on snow or sand. Volcanoes leave marks!
An important distinction between snowboarding and volcano boarding is that going down a volcano is about catching as much speed as possible, and not cutting and turning, as on a snowboard. Ash is much less slippery than snow, so the difficulty arises in controlling your body and board as your speed increases.
The two most popular destinations in the world for volcano boarding are Cerro Negro in western Nicaragua, and Mt. Yassur in Vanuatu.
Next time you're in the area with an adventurous pal, take a day trip to either mountain and let it rip! Tour companies will outfit you with gear and a board, and the whole thing costs about $30 US.