Select Page

Occasionally in whitewater we are blessed to have vertical ledges that are taller than the length of our kayaks, and for many of us, these waterfalls offer the pinnacle of the kayaking experience in freefall, flow, and technical difficulty. Kayaking waterfalls is one of the most feared, respected, and oddly underestimated feats you can do in whitewater kayaking. It blows my mind how many people step up to their first waterfalls with little more than a roll and some courage, but it blows my mind even more how many experts discount the accomplishment as just “plop and drop” or “falling in a kayak”. That’s why I started this waterfall tutorial series, to not only get you started on the right track if you want to run waterfalls yourself, but also to show how much knowledge and experience goes into running every waterfall. Even if you have no intention of ever stepping up to a large waterfall in your own paddling journey, you’ll be amazed how much this same skillset can transform your paddling elsewhere. This video is Part 1, an introduction to waterfalls and reading vertical whitewater. Specifically, this video is aimed at waterfalls that are too tall to boof or where a boof to skip away cleanly is no longer desired.

As you consider stepping up your waterfall game, I strongly recommend sticking to known waterfalls and checking out waterfalls without water before you consider running them with water. Kayaking first descent waterfalls is a skill that takes years of practice and tons of homework, so don’t assume this is all inclusive information for making sure a waterfall is safe. Gradually practice on waterfalls before stepping up to bigger ones, and always be conservative when assessing your own skills. Never run waterfalls without proper equipment, safety, access, or practice and please always huck responsibly!