At the Adrenaline Park, we overcome
Adrenalíngarðurinn (“The Adrenalin Park”) is an amusement park for adults: an obstacle course that offers 45 obstacles on three levels for those willing to step outside of their comfort zone. I chose to go straight up to the top floor, because I wanted the “authentic experience.” Of course, I was kicking myself over my decision as I hesitantly began crossing the first obstacle, a rope bridge with two out of every three steps missing.
I told myself I was waiting for our photographer, Matt, to get into a good position for a shot. In reality, I was mostly just second-guessing whether I had clipped in my safety line properly.
When Matt finally makes it up, I curse under my breath and think that the park’s name is a misnomer, as the only thing I’m feeling is an overwhelming sense of dread. What if I fall and my harness works, but I end up snapping my neck? What if?
Paralysis of analysis
Our instructor, Sölvi Þór Jónasson, had carefully led us through all the park’s safety precautions and shown us how to clip our harnesses correctly, so that if we were to fall, we wouldn’t plummet to our death.
Testing the system a half metre from the ground, it all seemed easy and safe, even though I’d heard of people in the past getting injured. I came mentally prepared to leap, run and climb through the course, but standing on the platform I found the real obstacle was my own fear.
Having run out of excuses, I take the first step and feel the whole bridge move terrifyingly from side to side as I put my weight on it. I clutch onto the railing, and experience something akin to vertigo as I look down below.
And then, when I leave the safety of the platform and take the second step, the fear recedes. I feel the bridge sway, but it’s not as distressing. With each step the fear lessens, and when I reach the next platform, I feel an endorphin rush. I had conquered the first trial, and perhaps more importantly, a part of myself that I hadn’t known existed.
And then I see the next obstacles, a series of small wooden blocks suspended through the middle. How can they support my weight? Are my legs long enough to reach from one pad to the next? What if I fall? What if this line isn’t strong enough and I plummet to my death? What if…
Clip in and keep moving
Each obstacle invites the same thought process: fear as I overanalyse the problem, then relief when I just get on with it. I venture through a bridge made out of rope hoops and suspended wooden beams, cross a tightrope with steady rings every few steps, and traverse over a slippery-looking wooden log, facing each challenge with more confidence, until they just become playful tests of agility.
For the most part, Sölvi sits back on the ground level, sipping his hot chocolate, watching our group calmly, as a parent would its children at the playground. At the end of it, he tells us they get a lot of company outings, school trips, and stag and hen dos, but that he’s only ever had to climb up and save one person that got stuck. “It’s not any more complicated than moving forward and pulling yourself up when you fall,” he says.
My fearful past-self wished he had told us that before we started.
Adrenalíngarðurinn features a variety of obstacles, including numerous kinds of rope bridges of varying difficulties, a swing that starts twelve metres from the ground, a climbing wall, a zip line, and a slackline. The course takes an estimated three hours to complete. Tickets go for 6,900 ISK.
How to get there: Adrenalíngarðurinn is 40 km out of Reykjavík, and is open all year round. You can book tickets at www.adrenalin.is, or by calling (+354) 414-2910.