Ben Stookesbury

Mad Paddler

Mar 20, 2009
Outside Magazine

Simple. It's to see the last unrun rivers on the planet. And to push the boundaries of what's considered navigable in any boat, let alone a kayak. An unrun river is the difference between buying a lift ticket and skiing a new line in the Chugach Range, in Alaska. When you repeat something that somebody else has done, the mental barrier has already been broken: You know it's doable. With a first descent, you've got to figure it all out on your own. That feeling of elation I used to get after making it through a rapid is harder to duplicate now. I've become more patient over time; I'm willing to wait for it and plan for it on a grander scale. So that when it does come, it's that much more exceptional. A first descent is a small honor, but it lasts forever.

Last January, Stookesberry, 30, paddled over Brazil's 100-foot-plus Anaconda Falls.

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