Here I’m standing, at the edge of Cerro Negro, the black volcano just an hour outside of Leon. This is what I wanted: Volcano boarding in Nicaragua. But is it still what I want? If I go snowboarding in Austria, Switzerland or France, we would call this a black piste. Dark black, because it’s steep as hell. ‘Negro’ is what they call it here in Nicaragua. It means black as well. There is one big difference: I don’t see any snow: just rocks and sand. If I was on my snowboard I would turn around. But I’m not: I’m having a volcano board in my hand; so there is no other option, unless I want to hike that whole our back. So I have to go down. Steep as hell or not…
Mani, our guide smiles: “No worries, the sand gives a lot of friction. You can easily control your speed. Put your weight forward and you will slow down, put your weight backward and you will speed up.” It sounds too easy, put I still have to go off and this is one off the steepest mountains I have ever gone off. But if Mani says so….
Mark goes first: the way it’s done mostly: sitting on a sledge. He puts the board in the sand that is blow to this side of the volcano by the wind. That wind blows almost every day in the same direction. That’s what makes it actually possible on this slope to go volcano boarding in Nicaragua. As Mark sets off I can see how hard it is to get some speed. He really has to push himself forward. Well for the first few meters. Then he leans back and shoots off in the distance.
When he is all the way down, I set my self in the hot sand, grape my board and Mani adjust the straps. Riding down the way I’m use to on my snowboard is no option. You can’t turn in the sand. I either have to go sideways, or just have the nose of my board turned all the way down and go like the wind. I decide to take it easy, but there is no easy. If I want to ‘rootsch’ down the way I do on my snowboard, the board doesn’t move. A lot of friction is really a lot of friction. So I struggle for a third of the slope and then just decide to ‘go for it’. I turn my board with the tip all the way down, catch some speed and I’m riding, riding. The dust and sands is flying around my ears, finding a way in my nose and mount. I adjust myself every now and then with my hand, the way Mani showed it. It burns like hell. The volcano is still active and as hot as it can be. I tumble over a few times, but get back on the board again. The nearer I get to the end, the smoother it gets. If it wasn’t for the 37 degrees burning on my head and the boiling magma under my feet in the mountain I could almost imagine I was actually back on my snowboard again.
When I get down I let myself fall in the sand and look up at the black slope. What a mountain, what a new boarding adventure. Let’s do this again!