At a time when we can all use a little adventure in our lives, this video arrives to deliver it in spades. it takes us to Chile along with pro kayaker Dane Jackson, where the pro kayaker paddles over the 134-foot (41 meters) waterfall known as Salto del Maule.
As you’ll see, the terrain is exceptionally beautiful, the river is fast and wild, and the waterfall is absolutely terrifying. In other words, just another day at the office for Jackson, who has made a career out of these types of exploits and making videos to show them off.
Dane Jackson’s White Whale
In all seriousness though, this is a drop that Dane has been wanting to do for some time, and watching it unfold is nothing short of spectacular. The obsession began more than four years ago when Jackson first saw a photo of Salto Del Maule.
Since then, he’s been planning and scouting his attempt on the massive waterfall, studying it from a wide variety of angles. It became his white whale of sorts as he plotted just how to make the drop possible, while still managing to survive the stunt.
Preparation for the “Big One”
While preparing to take on the towering waterfall, Jackson took on five other waterfalls to help gain experience and prepare his body for the challenges that Salto Del Maule would offer. Each of those other drops was more than 100 feet (30 meters) in height, which provided some context for the main challenge, even if those other falls didn’t quite measure up.
And like a pro athlete studying game film of his opponent, Dane also examined countless photos and videos of his Chilean nemesis in an effort to learn as much about it as he could. The question wasn’t whether or not he could survive the 134-foot plummet, but rather how deep the water was its base. Without enough water to slow his fall, he could face serious injury or even death.
Dane’s Olympic Pedigree
The son of an Olympic paddler, Dane has been kayaking nearly his entire life. He showed a particular knack for the sport at a young age, winning numerous junior kayaking competitions. Later he would join the pro-kayaking circuit, winning world championships on that level too. But it was the lure of adventure and expedition kayaking that truly drove his passion and led him to Salto Del Maule and his date with destiny.
In addition to Chile, Jackson has visited places like Spain, Costa Rica, Uganda, Mexico, and all over South America. He has also visited 49 of the U.S. states.
Along the way, he has paddled some of the most iconic and impressive whitewater rivers that the country has to offer, performing in competitions and teaching at clinics too. This has helped to make him one of the most popular and well-known paddlers in the world, despite being just 28 years old.
Salto Del Maule, How it Went Down
When he finally decided he was ready for Salto Del Maule, Jackson picked a proper line that he had scouted ahead of time. Paddling into this line, he was able to approach the edge of the waterfall in an expert fashion, hitting the exact point that he had hoped for.
Remarking on that moment, Dane told Red Bull, “It’s the most glorious feeling coming over that blind horizon and then staring down the beast. Maule was the greatest I’ve ever experienced.”
Epic, but Still not a World Record
Not everything went exactly as planned, however, as the spray skirt on his boat opened up on his descent, allowing water to pour into his cockpit. It was a small price to pay however for completing the second biggest waterfall drop in history.
The top spot is still held by Tyler Bradt, who made the first descent of the 189-foot (57 meters) Palouse Falls back in 2010. That still stands as the world record and isn’t likely to be challenged anytime soon.
While I love to kayak and even take on a bit of whitewater from time to time, I still contend that these paddlers going over these big waterfalls may just be certifiably insane. Both Jackson and Bradt survived their drops with just minor injuries, and I’m sure the rush is akin to a crazy amusement park ride. But this just seems too scary for my taste.
I’ll leave it up to the professionals and stick to nice, safe flat water instead.
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