Kayaking Off a 189-Foot Waterfall in a Borrowed Boat

RafaOrtizPalouseFalls3Rafa Ortiz on Palouse Falls. Photo: Lucas Gilman/Red Bull Content

Let’s get this out of the way. Tyler Bradt kayaked off Washington’s 189-foot Palouse Falls first. That was in 2009, and he stayed in his boat the entire time. On April 25 of this year, when Mexican kayaker Rafa Ortiz dropped off of the lip of the same waterfall and hit bottom, the turbulence ripped him out of his kayak, stripping of him of his chance to officially tie Bradt’s world record.

Now, let’s refocus. Ortiz won't make excuses, but the truth is, it wasn’t his kayak. He borrowed the boat from a friend because the kayak he specially ordered to run big waterfalls didn’t make it on time. He went for it because the weather was turning and there was a team of roughly 25 people waiting for him to drop. So, after only three days of serious prep, spurred forward by a not-so-subtle hint from a trailing camera crew, he took off. But we’ll let him tell the tale.

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