Even the most hardened adventurers should be careful to venture out toward these locales, with some of the most extreme climates in the world.
Whether we’re recommending jackets and boots or survival gear and tactics, we here at Life of Adventure are big advocates of being prepared for any situation.
What we haven’t covered as extensively, until now, are the regions of the world where extreme climates might threaten your safety or impede your ability to properly seek adventure — in short, those places where a heavy level of preparedness might be put to the test.
When it comes to adventuring, nothing’s more important than familiarity with the terrain you’re walking into, so we’ve compiled a list of five places you should watch out for extreme weather.
Here are the world’s most extreme climates.
World’s Wettest: Lloró, Colombia/Cherrapunji, India
There’s some contention as to which location is actually the world’s wettest because both Lloró, Colombia and Cherrapunji, India get up to 40 feet of rain every year.
Since Lloró is surrounded by a rain forest, is near Colombia’s Pacific Coast, and is more persistently wet than the hilly Cherrapunji region where water runs off almost as fast as it lands, it often wins the statistical coin toss.
It’s safe to say that anyone traveling to either place would be well advised to bring some waterproof gear. The silver lining is that neither locale is very cold.
Cherrapunji has a mean annual temperature of about 63 °F and Lloró’s is closer to 70 °F. Good news, because as any well-traveled Adrenalist knows, the only thing worse than teaming rain is cold teaming rain.
World’s Coldest: Antarctica
Even before starting our research into Earth’s coldest regions, we had an inkling that Antarctica would come out on top of the list. Just how cold is cold? Well according to official records, Antarctica’s lowest temperature reported was -89.4°C/-129°F.
In case you need us to put that in perspective, Antarctic climates have the capacity to get five times colder than freezing. If you’re traveling near the edges of the continent, you should also be prepared for icy winds that’ve been clocked at up to 190 mph. No wonder no population has set up permanent shop there.
World’s Windiest: Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica
You may have guessed this, what with the recent mention of 190 mph winds and all, but The Guinness Book of World Records lists Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica as the windiest place on Earth. Steady gusts track almost as high as the region’s record wind speed; 150 mph is not at all uncommon and the average annual wind speed is about 50 mph.
So, in Commonwealth, most days come bearing the gift of hurricane force winds. Unlike hurricanes, the breezes blown in Antarctica aren’t tropical, they’re katabatic — comprised of frigid air that gains speed as it moves over the region’s icy terrain. You’ll need to take a serious tour of our adventure gear before you even think about traveling here.
World’s Hottest: Death Valley, California
Antarctica may not have any year-round residents, but Death Valley, California does. They must get pretty toasty come summertime because, according to a recent announcement by the World Meteorological Organization, Death Valley is the hottest place on the planet.
The highest temperature recorded came in 1913 and read 134°F. Numerous records of 120°F + days have been tracked since and the mean annual temperature is over 77°F.
As Death Valley resident and editor of DeathValley.com newsletter, Randy Banis put it: “You don’t underestimate Death Valley. Most of us enthusiasts are proud that the extremes that we have known about at Death Valley are indeed the most harsh on earth.”
World’s Snowiest: Japanese Alps, Honshu Island, Japan
How much annual snow is a lot of annual snow? 10 feet? 40? 80? Laughing yet? No? Then you’re not familiar with the Japanese Alps on Honshu Island where annual snowfall measures between 1,200 and 1,500 inches. For those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined, that’s 100-125 feet of snowfall every year.
Not surprisingly, this yield has seismic results in the region, compounding from year to year and resulting in snow depths of up to 465 inches (nearly 39 feet).
The Yuki-no-Otani Snow Canyon is reportedly a tourist attraction in the Alps where visitors may drive through snow walls more than 30 feet high. The highest accumulations occur at 2,000-6,000 feet.
You can also find “onsens” at Zao Onsen near Yamagata. Here, you can also find the famous “juhyo” – or snow monsters – white goliaths that form over the season as ice builds upon the trees at the higher elevations of Zao Onsen ski resort, the biggest ski resort in Japan. Before you leave the island, visit the snow monkeys of Jigokudani, a five hour car ride away.