Catching Up With Dane Jackson on He (and Bren Orton) Dropping 300 Feet of Mexican Waterfalls (Plus: Watch Vid from MSN!)


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Arriba! Or “abajo,” we mean (meaning “below” or “down”, when it comes to kayaking phenom Dane Jackson and Bren Orton, who recently appeared on MSN in a video by Lucas Gilman for a complete run down 300 vertical feet of waterfalls in Mexico’s Santo Domingo Gorge this past March.

The section, what many claim to be the steepest, runnable section of whitewater in the world. , is deep in the jungle of Chiapas, with four main waterfalls in a row. The run drops more than 300 feet in less than a fifth of a mile—for a vertical drop, for those who are counting, of a whopping 1,500 feet per mile. The four main drops include 80-foot Angel Wings, which leads immediately into 85-foot The Dome, followed by Toboggan, and Raw Dog.

“The Santo Domingo is one of the most notorious sections in the kayaking world, and one that we had all always dreamed of getting to see for ourselves,” Jackson tells Paddling Life. “Coming up on 10 years since the last crew ran that section, we knew it was finally time. In the end it was even more glorious than we could have imagined, looking up at that sequence makes it hard to believe it not only exists, but also is all runnable.”
At the beginning, they weren’t sure they’d be able to run the drops, which were first run in their entirety from top to bottom by Rush Struges, Rafa Ortiz and Evan Garcia  in 2013. Jackson and Orton became only the fourth and fifth people to ever complete the entire sequence.
“Upon arrival, we could tell the water was a bit higher than we may have wanted, particularly for the opening stout Angel Wings,” Jackson says. “But it was great flows for the rest of the sequence. In the end Bren and I decided to do the entire sequence, whereas Adrian decided he wasn’t feeling Angel Wings, but fired up the rest. Bren and I both had great lines on Angel Wings, and it was definitely an awesome feeling being below that incredible drop. Then the rest of the sequence was as glorious as we could have hoped, and looking back up afterwards with a good crew, it was all time.”
Jackson also credits those b before him who pioneered the run. “Each of those drops are stout in their own right, and each first descent is notable in itself,” he says. “From Jesse Coombs’ first descent of Angel Wings, Josh Bechtals’s first descent of the Dome, Ben Stookesberry’s first descent of the rest, it’s all so, so epic. Then for Rafa Ortiz, Rush Sturges, and Evan Garcia to piece it all together in 2013 was also so epic. I can’t wait to see who gets after it next.”
For the descent, Jackson was in his trusty new (or now, not so new) Gnarvana. “It provided great lines and some glorious skips,” he says, crediting his crack safety team in place, which allowed them to complete the hair-raising run.

Watch Video Here:


  1. Eugene,

    Thought you might want to add a footnote to this story (Santo Domingo waterfalls). I first explored the Santo Domingo by kayak in 1980 on a shoot for ABC’s American Sportsman TV show with Eric Evans, Cathy Hearn, and John Wasson when we filmed the first run of the nearby Jatate River, as well as exploring nearby Agua Azul and running its many waterfalls. I first saw the Santo Domingo waterfall canyon from the air (there was no road access at the time) and we hiked out of the area without further exploring the mid section of the river where these falls are located. But the lower river was amazing, and we ran that. Later on, in the early 90’s, we returned to do a film on the waterfalls for ESPN and we descended the entire river, through the waterfall section by rappelling down with our kayaks, but we did not run them; no one was running falls that big back then!


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