Standing an incredible 189 feet (57 metres) tall, the Palouse Falls in the US state of Washington are even higher than the legendary Niagara Falls. Extreme kayaker Rafael Ortiz, of Mexico, recently paid them a visit – and became only the second person ever to paddle over the edge.
For Rafael ‘Rafa’ Ortiz, water has more than just one dimension. The 24-year-old Mexican, who has developed a reputation for spectacular freestyle kayaking adventures, is what you might call a specialist for vertical water. After conquering the Big Banana Waterfall (130ft/40m) in his native Mexico in 2010, Ortiz recently took things to the next level as he set his sights on the world record set three years ago by America’s Tyler Bradt, the only person to have kayaked the infamous Palouse Falls.
Following meticulous preparation work, Ortiz selected the slightly calmer right-hand side of the river for the stunt. “You can steer the kayak with your body a bit for the first 30 or 40 feet, but then the water takes over,” he explained ahead of the attempt.
The impact of hitting the churning white-water at the bottom was so intense that the Mexican was catapulted out of the kayak, meaning that – according to community rules – the jump cannot be officially recognised as equalling Bradt’s world record. Nevertheless, the breathtaking feat is yet another highlight in the career of Rafael Ortiz, who is currently on a mission to find and conquer the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Are you interested in kayaking? Check out the 2-part series on kayaking from Fishhound Blogger Jason Bryant.