It might not be quite as prestigious as the Adventurer of the Year award he won from National Geographic in 2007, but expedition kayaker Ben Stookesberry, from Chico, Calif., now has another, even more core feather for his helmet.
France’s Kayak Session magazine recently awarded him its Paddling Legend Award for 2019. “It’s a way for us to celebrate a true whitewater legend, and to tell this incredible human being how much respect we have for him,” posted organizers. “Ben has more first descents under his belt than anyone else in the world; he is the very synonym of the kayak expedition. The harder, the better, the further, the better, nothing seems to stop this adventure seeker. He has helped to define what kayaking can be and where kayaking can go.”
Judging was based on the past 12 months (January through December), with seven different categories: Male & Female Paddler of the Year, Male & Female U21 Paddler of the Year, Event of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, and Paddling Legend.The jury included
Rush Sturges, Vavra Hradilek, Mike Dawson, Joe Rea-Dickins, Capo Rettig, Olaf Obsommer, Shane Benedict, Dennis Newton, Anna Bruno and Kayak Session publisher Philippe Doux.
Stookesberry Edie Bauer Bio
Ben Stookesberry has been the expedition instigator for more than 130 first descents in 36 countries. His wingman is usually Eddie Bauer teammate Chris Korbulic, with whom he has survived complicated epics on ridiculous missions, from Central Africa and Pakistan to Patagonia and Bhutan, as well as a run of the cave-fed rivers of the Iso Gorge in Papua New Guinea and a cold trip to the remote river stretches in the Svalbard Archipelago of northern Norway, where Stookesberry ran a 65-foot glacial waterfall into the Arctic Ocean.
A talented filmmaker and visual storyteller, Stookesberry won a Best Film award at the Banff Film Festival for his 2011 film Kadoma and received critical acclaim for Walled In, which chronicled his first descent of the Marble Fork. His films have appeared at Mountainfilm in Telluride and Teva Mountain Games in Vail. His next project revolves around a 2014 trip, during which he partnered with Chris Korbulic and three other kayakers to paddle nearly 700 miles in white-water longboats through Northern Labrador’s Torngat Wilderness to complete the first no-portage descent of the 18 waterfalls of the Nachvak River.
For more than one hundred episodes, Stookesberry has starred in the Brazilian reality TV show Kaiak with Korbulic and Pedro Oliva, generating massive national interest in the sport of white-water kayaking. is featured regularly in Outside Magazine, and has appeared in countless media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, NBC’s TodayShow, the Daily Mail, and the BBC. Closer to his Chico, California, home, he has logged the first single-day descent of the Middle Kings and Kings Canyon, and reportedly poached the first descent of Falls Creek into the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. He has recently been inducted into the Kayaking Hall of Fame and is a closet fan of Hall & Oates.
Watch Stookes Vid Here: