Select Page

October 9, 2006

Working your way up to a major undertaking of hard creeks should be done in increments. Many of the team JK athletes are getting some quality time in the new Rocker and will be spending some quality time this fall and winter dropping from high elevations to lower elevations in some fast paced creeks. Being ready to drop vertically, on slides, in tight slots, or simply in crazy busy water are all part of the game of pushing the envelope; and this winter will be remembered as one of those breakthrough winters in creeking.

There is so much to be said for waiting for the right situation with the right team to go to the limits and expect to come back safe. I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have assembled an incredible team of paddlers that are motivated to explore deep into the crevasses of the earth this fall and winter where the wildest of whitewater lives and no man has successfully paddled before. These paddlers are Ben Stookesberrry (Oregon), Jesse Coombs (Oregon), Rafa (Mexico), Phil Boyer (California), Nick Troutman (Ontario, CA), Boyd Ruppelt (TN). Surely this list is not complete when it comes to our team, it is just the list of those preparing for a major trip already this fall. Look for Clay Wright (Tennessee), Stephen Wright (At-large), Jay Kincaid (Nevada), Rodrigo (Chile’), David Stephan (Brazil) and more to have some major trips coming up later this winter.

There is no question that Ben Stookesberry and Jesse Coombs are the two paddlers who are the leaders of this team and are coming off of their 2005 “No Big Names: Hotel Charlie” expeditions in 2005. Ben majored in geology in college and is putting that to good use as he investigates and prepares new expeditions using maps, input from locals, and a knowledge of geology to piece together what he can expect to find when he enters the valleys and once un-run creeks and rivers. Jesse not only is usually prepared to “fire it up” when he meets a big drop that is yet un-run, but he brings so much energy, positive emotional force, and a “can do” attitude that is so critical when things are either getting tough or when it is time to raise the bar. Every team needs a variety of personalities and skills to be complete and well rounded; the rest of the cast of characters does this well, while bringing the needed paddling skills to the table when it counts.

The Mega-Rocker will be our first kayak of choice since it has ample room for lots of overnight and climbing gear, as well as a new bulkhead that folds up to allow for stowage in the front of the boat to balance the boat out. At 92 gallons the Mega-Rocker will handle any amount of gear and still float high and be very maneuverable. I am only 160 pounds (Rafa is 145 pounds), and with enough foam under the seat we can fit nicely in the boat. We had our first 275 pound paddler in the boat last week and he floated it perfectly. I don’t want to carry 100 pounds of gear, but am guessing that for as many days as we’ll be on the river and the challenges we’ll face, it will be a good 60 pounds of gear.

Time to get on the water here in Charlotte for a completely different type of paddling- slalom paddling! Yes, Emily, Nick, and I are doing some slalom training today!




Click to view larger image

Nick Enjoying a Rocker ride