Sunday, January 11, 2009
Happy New Year
Jake Sanders, Money Drop, Rock Creek, OR
Ben Stookesbury, Outlet Falls, WA; 1st successful Decent
Outlet falls is a spectacular 70ft spouting waterfall, near the town of Glenwood, WA. I have scouted it many time never seeing it at a high enough flow to consider calling the big hitter crew. When i arrived at the falls with Ryan Scott, there was a feeling that something special was about to go down. This falls has been on allot of peoples minds, mine included, and is rarely high enough to consider an attempt. I could hear the pounding of the falls from the road and knew that meant it would be good to go. There were cars lined up on the road and when i walked down to the classic lookout point i saw that there was a serious crew here. I recognized my friend, Barney Benito and Nate Herbeck, both talented videographers, as well as renowned photographers, Jed Weingarten, Charlie Munsey, and Richard Hallman. They were all lined up waiting for the photo epic to begin. The falls was juicing chocolate water into the cauldron below, spouting straight out from the lip for it was moving so fast. The boil was massive at the base, creating surges and reactionary holes that slapped into the ice covered walls of the canyon . A swim could turn ugly for the ice appeared to be overhung at water level and wrapped behind the falls.
There were 3 people there that were considering running the falls, Eric Boomer LJ Groth, and Ben Stookesberry. All of which are some of the best kayaker's in the world. If it could be done, these were the guys to do it. Eric Boomer was the first to step up to the plate. He otter slid into the river 50 yards upstream of the drop, and eddied out to establish visual contact with the media crews. All systems were go. He peeled out and set up for the drop in the class 3 lead in rapid. Everything looked perfect. He had good position at the lip and maintained great form throughout the free fall and landing. He disappeared for a few seconds and came out from the boil upside down and headed to the river right bank without his paddle. He wrestled with the boils and later with the frozen bank. After 8 or so missed hand rolls he swam and immediately stood up for he was right next to the bank. Though he didn't stay in his boat, it was a hell of a thing to accomplish and my hat is off to him for getting it done first.
Ben Stokesberry signed up next. His line was truly epic in all proportions. He had an almost identical setup as Eric but took an extremely late boof stroke, landing with almost perfect boat angle. It blew my mind, boofing a 70 footer is beyond dangerous, the margin for error is minuscule. Ben is an amazing kayaker it was quite a thing to see him stick the drop so cleanly.
LJ was standing near me when Ben ran the drop. I asked him what the thought. He had a recent back injury on his mind but felt the drop was to good to be true. The safety was in place and if there was a time to run it, than this was the time. He headed up the hill to get his boat. Again, he set up almost identically to Eric. As he rolled over the lip he let go of his paddle and leaned forward, i later found out he employs this technique so he can hold onto his cockpit to protect his skirt and keep himself in the boat. he went deep and was gone for at least a 4 count. When he surfaced he came up straight downstream of the boil. This cleared him of the boils and ice ledge that had hampered Erics hand roll. he rolled after a few attempts and looked around, dazed from the serious hit. All was well, he made it.
Eric Boomer, Giving it on the first attempt of Outlet Falls.