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First Ascent athlete Jesse Coombs successfully ran Abiqua Falls, which his team measured at 94 feet, earlier this season and sent us a first person run through of the descent:

Lucas and I were looking for first descent waterfalls, and Heather Herbeck suggested Abiqua. We showed up on March 11th after looking at a couple other waterfalls that did not have enough water. As soon as I saw the waterfall from the bottom I knew it was in the realm of possible. After talking with Heather and Christie Glissmeyer and getting their perspective I walked to the top and saw that the lip was actually quite friendly.

We set up all the cameras and got in place. Ben Church from Oregon State University set up the rigging to keep everyone safe. I got in position at the top and slipped my JK Villain into the pool at the top. The height of this waterfall is no joke. It looks like you will fall off the earth. I made sure I was calm and happy, and that I was ready to be in the pool below. Lucas called on the radio and said he was ready and in place. I put the radio inside my dry top and paddled for the lip. I pulled off once wanting to make sure my head in the right mind set. I paddled again for the lip, picked up a little speed and took a left stroke at the lip to set my angle. The thought in my head was that this waterfall is every bit as tall as it looks.

I kept every motion smooth. I began my tuck half way down and got as tight as possible. I wondered in my head how hard the hit would be. And BOOM I get. My paddle got ripped way faster than I can contemplate. I surfaced to the right of the falls. I went for a hand roll and my skirt was blown. I saw that I was near the back pool and pulled water for it. I rolled up on a rock at the back of the pool and raised my fist in celebration.

This was the tallest waterfall I have ever run and I had a super clean line. I was stoked! And I had Lucas Gilman shooting it which means I KNOW he got the shot. He was shooting two NIKON video cameras and a still camera; tons of great footage. Plus we put a camera on the back of my boat that has beautiful footage. It was an amazing day!

Abiqua Falls has extra lore in the Pacific Northwest as it was first run in 2002 by my good friend Tim Gross. Unfortunately Tim landed upside down and was thrown from his boat hurting his knees. My second call after my successful descent was to Tim to share the good news of my descent. Ironically, Abiqua dealt me a collapsed lung and some shoulder damage. Sadly, nine days after I ran Abiqua, Tyler Bradt ran it at lower level and broke his back. Here’s to a full and speedy recovery Tyler.

What does it take to document a waterfall drop of this size? Lucas Gilman and his team give us a behind the scenes look:


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