Ben Stookesberry talks recovering from an injury, The Dynamic of Expedition Kayaking, the state of whitewater kayaking today.
Adventure kayaking pioneer Ben Stookesberry, who turned a young and spry 42 this August, has run more than 130 first descents in 36 countries around the world, more than anyone else on the planet. They run from Central Africa and Pakistan to Patagonia and Bhutan, and the cave-fed rivers of the Iso Gorge in Papua New Guinea to Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago and even a 700-mile first/no-portage descent of Northern Labrador’s Nachvak River in the Torngat Wilderness and its 18 waterfalls. He also once notched the first single-day descent of California’s Middle Kings and Kings Canyon.
A talented filmmaker and storyteller, the Eddie Bauer- and Kokatat-sponsored kayaker won a Best Film award at the Banff Film Festival for 2011’s Kadoma and received critical acclaim for Walled In, chronicling his first descent of the Marble Fork. He also starred in the Brazilian reality TV show Kaiak with Chris Korbulic and Pedro Olivia, and has appeared in countless media outlets, including Outside, the Wall Street Journal, NBC’s Today Show, the Daily Mail, and the BBC. Along the way he’s won a pile or prestigious adventure awards, including Adventurer of the Year from National Geographic in 2007 and 2019’s Paddling Legend Award from France’s Kayak Session magazine .
PaddlingLife caught up with the closet Hall & Oates fan in his new hometown of Missoula, Mont., where he chats about what keeps him searching for that next great river in the far flung zones of the earth.
In it, he addresses all things Stookes, from his recent shoulder injury on aptly-named Old Man’s Creek to his new upcoming movie release on running Colombia’s Rio Guayas with wingmen Rafa Ortiz and Lane Jacobs, the state of whitewater kayaking, upcoming expeditions and more.
Watch interview here: