Just when you thought a world waterfall record was safe, someone else comes up and ties—or bests–it.
That’s what happened June 13, when huckster Logan Grayling ran Johnston’s Falls in Alberta’s Banff National Park, becoming only the second person to ever do so and first since Tao Berman first ran the falls, setting the unofficial world record in 1999 (“longest vertical drop in a kayak”). While calls to Grayling went unanswered (he’s either at a chiropractor’s or out scouting and running other drops), Berman was quick to comment on the plunge. “I heard someone ran it and I think it’s great,” he says. “To be honest I’m surprised someone hadn’t done it sooner. I heard that he had a good line and I’m happy for him.”
Photographer Andrew Hardingham was on hand to capture the action, and says the line looked as clean and well-executed as you can get on a 100-footer. “It was an insane drop to see in person,” says Hardingham, who also filmed the plunge on 16mm film. “Logan did paddle away from the falls. He had two safety boats waiting at the bottom and they didn’t get anywhere near him before he popped up and paddled away. The footage should turn out great.”
As far as injuries, Hardingham adds that Grayling “grazed his head and paddle on the wall near the bottom of the falls on the way down, but it was minor.”
Paddling Life will add to this report once Grayling checks in, but in the meantime we did a little analysis of our own. Although it’s all water under the bridge at this point, when Tao did the drop in 1999 the water level was lower because of lower run-off, likely making the entrance move trickier (and not a place to be off line). Not that they’re chasing records, or even care, but when asked, Hardingham maintains that when Grayling ran the drop, it measured higher than the 98’6” when Tao ran it.
“I wasn’t there for Tao’s drop, but when Logan ran it we measured the total drop from top of falls to water at 100 feet 2 inches,” he says. “I’ve measured the falls at different levels throughout the years and it being bigger when Logan ran it at higher water makes sense. The narrow entrance at the top forces the water several feet higher at the lip, and the huge water outlet from the pool below only rises a few inches and lets water out at a much higher volume.
“It’s not important that Logan beet Tao’s record—he wasn’t there to beat his record, nor does he care,” he adds. “He just wanted to challenge himself. But I think the majority of your Web readers are experienced paddlers so they’ll understand it when they see the falls.”
One thing PL can say for certain is that the size of each paddler’s cajones is definitely the same….