The biggest rapid ever run? That might be a big claim, what with boaters having flung themselves off Niagara Falls and braving the Yangtze Gorge and such. But kayaking’s social channels are abuzz nonetheless with Dane Jackson’s recent exploits on Pakistan’s Indus River, just weeks after setting a new course record at the Green Race.
Even Jackson himself is awestruck at the river, its rapids, and what his team accomplished.
“One portage, two swims, and a sh*t ton of stouts! Indus was ALL TIME!!” he posted on FaceBook.
And he was no less incredulous when Paddling Life caught up with him for his take on the Holy Grail of going big: “The Indus was by far some of the hardest and stoutest whitewater I have ever done,” he told us. “It’s in a league of its own.”
Jackson says the rapid in the accompanying photo (a screenshot from a video camera Jackson set up) was the biggest and steepest rapid of the river, and one of the last that hadn’t been run.
“It was one of the most savage beat downs I have had…”
Jackson was on the trip with “the Cali boys,” including Evan Moore, Carson Lindsay and Johnny Chase. “They had a spot available so they invited me earlier this year and it was hard to resist,” he says. “It was such a sick crew, and we finished the river in five days.”
Jackson says the portage count in the mighty Indus has been dropping over the last two years, down to numbers like four to six. “But last fall Sven Lammler got the lowest with just two portages,” Jackson says. “I didn’t necessarily put on with the intention of trying to get the lowest number of portages, but I just kept seeing the lines whenever I showed up at the next stout.”
But even Jackson is mortal, as evidenced by his two swims on the run. “My first swim was on a rapid called Three Brothers, where you’re trying to get to a far right channel at the end because the middle channel has a huge hole. Unfortunately, I got rejected by some curlers and ended up getting melted into the huge hole, losing my paddle immediately and actually getting ripped out of my boat.
“But I didn’t come completely out of my boat immediately,” he adds “I got ripped out to about my ankles, but then my camera bag actually blocked my feet from coming out completely. So I was rag dolling and tumbling in the hole by my ankles, one of the most savage beat downs I have had. After some tumbles it ripped me out of my shoe, which allowed me to come out.
“The second swim was definitely my own choice. One of the final big name drapids is Stookesberry’s, where you basically have no choice but to plug into an absolutely beast of a hole, and hope you pop out. I unfortunately did not make it through and decided to swim after getting a savage beat down. Not my strongest moments, unfortunately, but the holes are on a different level on the Indus. And it’s still one of the greatest trips I have ever gotten to do.”
What fellow boater Jeremy Nash has to say (via FB):
“It’s the biggest rapid ever run in a kayak. Dane Jackson is truly the King of Whitewater. I thought he was good but this is something entirely different. I am truly at a loss of words as to this incredible feat. History has been made. I’ve paddled with him a few times and his understanding of whitewater is far beyond anything I can wrap my head around; yet he remains entirely self-contained and humble despite his unworldly skills. He has experienced something far different from any other kayaker: the 35th chamber of Shaolin kungfu.
“I can only imagine the force and turbulence of this rapid. The Indus is the pinnacle of whitewater kayaking — one of the world’s most sacred rivers holding the deepest secrets of history. One portage and two swims, needless to say I don’t think Dane was higher than the river. But I’m stoked to see the sport get pushed in a new direction…defying the understanding of what is possible so everyone else doesn’t have to.”