Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Northwest Huckfest-Tyler Bradt runs Sunset Falls

Tyler Bradt runs Sunset Falls, Washington

Photos by Erik Boomer EboomerPhoto@gmail.com

We are back in the game! It's been 4 months since my back break and although I still feel it, I am running big drops again, paddling everyday, and filming the fire!

We just started shooting our new project "Frontier" which is the follow up to Dream Result. It feels great to have a clean canvas to work with, and i'm trying to figure out how to step up the bar from a film-making, kayaking, and music perspective...

We kicked the film off at the infamous Beaver Lodge by running the Little White at around 4 feet for a few days... We also did a mission to Summit Creek which resulted in Boomer running a huge 70 ft drop, and also a few of the boys firing off the burly Skateboard Ramp drop. We got AMAZING carnage shots and LJ cracked a few ribs. A quick trip to the ER and a few benders later found us at the lip of 80 ft Metlako Falls. I was nervous to fire off this 80 ftr after not running anything big since I broke myself. I had a super fun line and the hit was soft at the bottom. We tried to get some POV mount shots off the back of my boat, but unfortunately lost 2 go pro cameras and our custom mount in the process. Bummer.

The next day we cruised over to Wahclella Falls, an un run 70-80 ftr. Erik Boomer stepped up to the plate and pulled off one of the craziest stunts I have ever seen.

The Falls is located in a locked in gorge with vertical walls towering hundreds of feet above. The only way into the falls is to hike 2 hours above the canyon rim, be belayed in your kayak to the lip right above the falls, and then cut the rope yourself. To my knowledge, this has never been done before. Boomer lowered in 175 feet as we watched from the canyon far below. I really wasn't certain how good of an idea it was. We had already spent about 5 hours in the canyon scouting, and the light was starting to fade. The rain poured down as Boomer moved cautiously down the cliff face. When he reached the water, it was clear things were pretty hectic in the canyon. He was hovering just inches above a socked in hole. He had to reach behind himself, cut the rope, and then punch a mackin hole above the lip of the 70-80 ftr (which had a marginal lip). Boomer being the mad dawg he is, somehow pulled the stunt off. He NAILED the rope cut, and then stomped the big drop. He rolled up with a big gash on his lip and a huge smile... Erik Boomer is the "Honey Badger" of kayaking. See Boomers animal counterpart here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c81bcjyfn6U

After a quick trip to the ER and some stiches for the "Boom Dawg" (our second one in the past week) we moved up to Seattle/Tacoma for more film premiers and stouts.

Tyler stepped up to the plate and ran one of the burliest things I have ever filmed. Although this was not a first descent, it was the first complete descent in a kayak. Mad props to Rob McKibbin, a local who ran this drop last year. Rob had a good line despite cracking a few ribs and swimming at the bottom. As well, this drop was run in 1926 by Al Fausset in a 30 ft canoe with a steel enclosing. Pretty hardcore. Learn more about this crazy man and many of his other stunts here: http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8348

Upon arrival at the falls on river right the day before, Tyler stated "It's not as burly as I thought it would be. I want to run it right now."

After some negotiation I convinced Tyler to have a scout from river left, and to sleep on it. After getting to river level on the left side of the drop, the dangers were more obvious. The lateral is much bigger then it looks from above, and the line is way harder then we initially thought. The crux is breaking a lateral on the left side of the river and trying to get center. If you go too far right, you will die in a sieve. If you end up on the left side, you will hit a rooster tail that sprays about 30 feet in the air. There is absolutely NO margin for error on this move. As well, you have a few swirly factors at the top that come into play.

Sunset Falls drops 105 feet over 275 feet. It took Tyler 19 seconds from top to bottom.

After a full morning of figuring out camera angles, scouting, and dealing with pissed off locals, (someone egged my car) Tyler was ready to go. Once again I stood with Tyler at the top of another savage rapid and told him my usual advice... "Either way man. I don't blame you for pulling the plug on this one."

He assured me he was confident with it and ready to go. Boomer and I both walked down to our cameras and agreed it was a little loose, but we were confident he could stick it...

As he always does, Tyler pulled through. He NAILED the top lateral in the exact spot and came screaming down the slide at maybe 60 MPH? The fastest I have ever seen anyone go in a kayak down a slide.

To really appreciate this drop you should go look at it in person. It has been scouted by many good paddlers and always walked away from for good reasons. There are so many variables to deal with. Tough moves, sieves, pot holes, ledges, etc. It's tough to tell what's going on and what exactly is going to happen to you.

Tyler lost control about 2/3 of the way down and ran the bottom portion on his head. He snapped his paddle (actually my paddle) in two but managed to roll up with both blades in hand.

I was really excited to see him safe and sound at the bottom. Our first week of filming has been pretty awesome. We're now in Missoula getting ready for another Dream Result premier, and then off to Quebec for big wave surfing! Another year and another journey begins... Checkout Sunset Falls in our new film "FRONTIER."


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