To many a visit to the great outdoors means a leisurely stroll through the well-worn trails of a nearby state park, perhaps entailing the odd clamber over a felled tree or rogue boulder before taking a well-deserved granola bar break. And then there are these: Extreme adventures that offer intense and thrilling challenges to even the most seasoned outdoorsman, from terrain, or temperature, fauna or any combination of the three.
Mount Rainier, WA
Towering over Washington state some 14,000 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is one of America's most iconic natural sites, drawing tens of thousands of hikers and climbers of all skill level. It is also one of the most lethal playgrounds on the planet. Besides being an active volcano, its height and relation to the coastline subject the mountain to chaotic weather that can drop the mercury through the floor within an hour or two.
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No surprise then that more than 400 people have died in the area, one as recent as this month, from any manner of natural hazards: avalanches, rock falls, slips off peaks and cliffs, hypothermia, heart attack, drowning, and every possible combination in between. Still, for many the risk is definitely worth the reward with access to 26 major glaciers and some of the finest views in the Pacific Northwest.
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