The climbers were surrounded. Whitewater rapid channels packed with rafters, kayakers, and paddleboarders held down the aquatic territory. Mountain bikers, runners, canines, and spectators handled the land. Even the airspace above the climbers was occupied with zipliners soaring across the facility.
Despite the chaotic atmosphere, the climbers approached the great wall before them, determined to reach its peak. The surroundings were only a distraction from this goal, and as they ascended, some won, some lost, and all would fall.
Boosh! One by one the climbers fall. Ka-koosh! This is the deep water solo, the main event at Tuck Fest, three days of crazy adventure games at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Climbers go head-to-head in this knockout competition, racing up a 45-foot wall that arcs over a pool. It requires muscle, dexterity, and smarts. “It’s about strength but also trusting your instincts,” says Nathaniel Coleman, 20, of Murray, Utah, who finished second. He says climbing is a great workout; try strengthening your grip with forearm trainers (like these).
At Tuck Fest, mountain bikers charge up trails, paddleboarders and kayakers ride whitewater, and runners dash through the woods. Sweat, beer, and adrenaline flow freely. We had to find out: What does adventure mean to these guys, and how do they scratch the primal itch?
Embrace the Filth
“Being outdoors is about getting dirty and having fun,” says Alan Neronski, 34, of Virginia Beach, VA.
Notice the Grin
“When you’re outside, look around. No one is mad. That’s the power of nature,” says Adriene Levknecht, 29, of Greenville, SC.
Turn Off the GPS
“I like to get lost a lot in the woods,” says Taylor McNeill (far right), 26, of Vilas, NC. “Somehow it helps me feel more alive.”
“To pursue adventure is to pursue transformation,” says Jeffrey Yancey, 29, of Charleston, SC. “With risk comes growth.”