E X T R E M E I R O N I N G
BY PHIL SHAW
The sport that is Extreme Ironing is an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an “extreme” sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt. It involves taking an iron and board (if possible) to remote locations and ironing a few items of laundry. This can involve ironing on a mountainside, preferably on a difficult climb, or taking an iron skiing, snowboarding, or canoeing.
It all started in the city of Leicester in the UK, in the summer of 1997. I returned home after a long day in the knitwear factory, and the last thing I wanted to do was start on a pile of ironing. The sun was shining and I preferred the idea of an evening out pursuing my (somewhat unsuccessful) hobby of rock climbing. Then it occurred to me to combine these activities into an extreme sport — the result: extreme ironing.
From there it was taken all over the country, and when the website was launched EI was taken up all over the world.
Budding extreme ironists are advised to start ironing in the safety of their back garden, before progressing to mountainsides, woods, or public places. The basic equipment is an iron and board. Ironists are also advised to take full safety equipment such as harnesses, ropes, and helmets where appropriate.
Domestic ironing is usually done indoors — fairly boring right? Well, the first step is to take it outside and add a bit of risk. This might mean ironing on a particularly difficult mountain climb, or taking your iron and board 20 metres underwater with full scuba gear. The only limit is your imagination. Just remember to plan your extreme ironing carefully. Pay attention to weather conditions, as they change quickly in the mountains, and never extreme iron on your own. The nature of some extreme iron sessions is such that it would be foolhardy to attempt them without backup.
In the beginning, extreme ironists used (very long) extension cords, but soon realised that unless they wanted to be limited by taking a generator with them, a new solution would be needed. Starch and Hotplate are at the forefront of battery powered irons, whilst in Germany, Dr Iron Q has developed geothermics, a method of tapping into the earth’s energy supply to power the iron — with mixed results.
Extreme Ironing, the book, was written by the sport's founder, Steam, and features 96 photos of the most extreme calibre. Published by New Holland Publishers on October 1, it will be available through Amazon.com.
For more on this most unique sport, visit www.extremeironing.com