HBO Max’s Edge of the Earth Series Debuts “Raging Torrent” (Plus: Stookes Chimes In)


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It’s here! If you’ve been waiting on the edge of your kayak seat for HBO Max’s Edge of the Earth Series, whose Episode #2 features Ben Stookesberry, Nouria Newman and Erik Boomer tackling Ecuador’s Rio Chalupas in “Raging Torrent,” you can scootch back on and butter your popcorn. It’s out and streaming and making a splash as big as the ones they encountered on their first descent of the Class V-VI waterway.

“I truly believe that TGR has captured a level of authenticity that no other project that no other film project that I have been a part of before has achieved.”

—Ben Stookesberry

The Series in a Nutshell

In HBO Max’s Edge of the Earth Series, filmmakers follow four groups of elite action-adventure athletes on four unique, never-before-accomplished missions around the globe. As the athletes venture up and down mountains, down rivers, and across oceans, they rise to meet life-threatening challenges that test their decision making and athletic capacity. The series explores the marvels of nature’s beauty amidst the present-day risks of climate change, deforestation, and the perils of human industry in these remote and beautiful parts of the world, while celebrating the inspiring feats of human achievement. Taking part are snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Elena Hight, and skier Griffin Post; kayakers Ben Stookesberry, Nouria Newman and Erik Boomer; climbers Emily Harrington and Adrian Ballinger; and surfers Ian Walsh and Grant “Twiggy” Baker.

(Photo courtesy Edge of the Earth Series/HBO Max)

The episode of particular interest to paddlers is #2, titled “Raging Torrent.” The episode follows the Series’ first episode, “Into the Void,” which followed snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Elena Hight, and skier Griffin Post, as they travel to Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park to attempt an unprecedented descent of Mount Bertha amid hazardous weather and conditions.

Directed by Steve and Todd Jones of Teton Gravity Research, the film, which opened to streaming last week, chronicles kayakers Ben Stookesberry, Nouria Newman and Erik Boomer as they attempt the first descent of the potentially impassable Chalupas River in the vast jungle of the Llanganates National Park in Ecuador. With no map, guide, and only one point of emergency access to the outside world, the trio relies on one another to navigate the river’s uncompromising terrain.

“I watched it for the first time today on HBO,” says Stookesberry. “Having experienced the Chulupas first hand, I knew that it would be impossible to include everything that happened in a month-long river trip—as well as trying to sum up another month and a half trying to finish the river after the film crew left. Initially, when I saw the preview, I thought the show was doomed. But after watching it after working so hard to do the expedition justice, then taking Boomer, Nouria, and my feedback and then reworking so hard, I truly believe that TGR has captured a level of authenticity that no other project that no other film project that I have been a part of before has achieved.
“I felt the excitement as if it were happening again of getting on the river and almost a sense of wonder even though I knew exactly, excruciatingly how it actually happened.  I cringed seeing myself succumb to the ultra-stress environment and lose it at Nouria for no good reason. The moments that we would have never filmed, or included in the show as kayakers are shown, developed and brought to resolution by the TGR team. And, honestly, I would hate being portrayed in these not-so-flattering lights, if this wasn’t exactly how it went down, and cared for enough by the TGR team to resolve a matter that all of of us river runners has probably experienced on a river trip. Add to the drama the aerial and river level cinematography and I couldn’t be happier with the show.
“I could write a book about the ending, but suffice it to say I was extremely happy that Ecuadorian paddler Diego Robles’ name appears as the one who was stout and brave enough to go back into the river with me.”


The trip also came with its share of mishaps, including a machete wound to Stookesberry’s leg,  which happened on day eight of a second mission to finish the Chalupas with Robles, after original team members  Boomer, Newman, Chris Korbulic and Sandy McEwan failed to finish their month-long first attempt at the Chalupas because of high water.

Not on the edge of your seat about the release? To whet your appetite, consider the following Instagram posts benstookesberry has shared about the release:

IG Posts from Stookes on “Raging Torrent”

Post #1: ‘I’ve been dragging my feet for months, unsure of what to say about this whitewater kayaking documentary . But as of tomorrow on @hbomax, you can see episode 2 #EdgeoftheEarthHBO for yourself. While I am extremely proud of the talent and effort of our entire multi-national crew of paddlers, cinematographers, producers, logisticians, and incredible Ecuadorian support crew; it presents a tough yet real reflection that I am still struggling with (in addition to 2 self-inflicted machete wounds). Luckily I didn’t actually chop off my hand or leg, and this show isn’t just about me.”

“It took us over a month to paddle and portage 20 miles and 7,000 vertical feet of Ecuador’s Rio Chalupas. I have no other worthy examples to provide context for this mission. For example, CK and I hiked 12 miles into and paddle 40 miles and 7,000 vertical feet of Middle Kings in a day so that obviously won’t work. In PNG CK, Benny, Pedro and I spent 13 days descending 3600 vertical feet of Beriman Gorge, but had no flash floods. In Colombia CK, Jules, Aniol, Jessie Rice, and I had a group melt down; but the river was so flat it felt up hill and then the FARC got involved. So you might be wondering, where was @ckorbulic on this monster mission?? In fact he and @sandymacewan were there, along side @erikboomer @nourianewman and I. But they had the uniquely awful task of filming this most savage of missions in full glorious and brutal detail. To be clear, they paddle the same mandatory 5+ gorges, made the same life or death portages, had no reasonable option for heli evac, carried more weight, stayed up later to recharge batteries all to bring this big mission to the big screen

Post #3: Actually, it was just like any other kayaking mission to Ecuador: Fly to Quito, see the sights, consider the options, drive to the put-in, and hang on to your hats (helmets) 🤪 #EdgeoftheEarthHBO @hbomax

Info: Raging Torrent

Careful with that Axe: Stookesberry after slicing his leg open with a machete on Ecuador’s Rio Chalupas.


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