A little over a decade ago, a 50- or 60-foot waterfall was thought to be the biggest drop a kayaker could survive. But sturdier boats and new techniques have allowed daredevils and explorers like Mr. Stookesberry to push the outer limits of the sport. By mastering big waterfalls, the most extreme kayakers are venturing into unexplored river gorges and uncharted rapids that were previously deemed out of reach, sealed off by fortress-like waterfalls where portaging is impossible. Like 19th-century explorers and alpine climbers seeking to conquer untamed peaks, these adventurers risk their lives to claim a “first descent” of a waterfall or a long, treacherous stretch of river.
Read more about this new trend in kayaking.