A trio of kayakers completed the impossible, or what seemed impossible, since no other kayaker had done what they did.
Rafa Ortiz, Evan Garcia, and Rush Sturges became the first kayakers to run a series of five waterfalls on the Rio Santo Domingo in a top-to-bottom descent of the world’s steepest river section, according to a report by Red Bull. The waterfalls had been successfully run individually before, but not all in one run. Until now.
The river, located in Chiapas, Mexico, has a 2,200-foot-per-mile descent with waterfalls measuring 80, 90, 60, 20, and 40 feet. Oregon Kayaking describes it as the “Holy Grail of big-drop steep creeking.”
“When it comes to pushing the boundaries of kayaking right now, steep creeking is the game, Mexico is the place, and Evan, Rush, and Rafa are the players,” said Canoe & Kayak online editor Charli Kerns. “These guys have been pulling amazing stunts for years, and this record is the crown achievement. Until they come up with another one, anyway.”
Garcia gave a taste of what the experience was like when he told Red Bull: “If you break your paddle or blow your deck, you have about five seconds to get your act together before you’re swept over the next 70 feet.”
The incredible feat occurred near the end of March, but it wasn’t until this week that Red Bull made these amazing photos available. If you want to see video, you’ll have to wait even longer. Red Bull said video of the full descent is to be released in February 2014.
Needless to say, the successful kayakers were ecstatic with their history-making achievement.
“Since the first time I stood in front of the Santo, I’ve dreamt of paddling each one of its drops in a single run,” Ortiz told Red Bull. “We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces when we arrived at the bottom and looked back!”
Here are a few more photos of the kayakers taming the Rio Santo Domingo, courtesy of Red Bull: