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5 Daring Waterfall Dives and Falls



The recently completed first women tandem descent at Celestial Falls yielded some stunning photos. The kayak taking the 45-foot plunge outside White, Oregon, hit the water at a 90-degree angle.

The press hailed the kayakers Nicole Mansfield and Katrina Van Wijk as daredevils, which they certainly were. Strangely, Mansfield and Van Wijk are also part of an extreme tradition of waterfall diving. Last week we showed you a host of waterfall kayaking dives, now check out these 5 modern and historic waterfall dives and falls of every kind.

Bam Margera

In tandem with professional kayaker, Steve Fisher, Bam Margera once kayaked off a 100-foot cliff in Oregon. Yes, the height from which Margera and Fisher launched was more than twice that which the two female Adrenalists above faced. In the photos of Margera’s phenomenal, adrenaline-pumping waterfall jump, you can sense the size of the challenge that he and his sidekick tackled.

Margera may as well have been going skydiving without a parachute. In the video clip, before the pair take the drop, Fisher can be heard saying, “tense everything.” The professional prankster, however, with no apparent sense of fear failed to tense firmly enough. On impact, Margera was unseated. He wound up in hospital, where he had to endure emergency hernia surgery. After making a fast recovery, he was soon back to his wild ways.

Ben Stookesberry, Pedro Oliva and Chris Korbulic

One way of making the budding sport of waterfall plunging even more radical is to throw extreme temperature into the mix. Just talk to Californian kayaker Ben Stookesberry. According to the Daily Mail, Stookesberry was the first person to kayak over a glacier’s waterfall. With fellow professional paddlers Pedro Oliva and Chris Korbulic, he accomplished the feat in August last year at an epic location: Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. The three explorers went on an epic 12-day boat and kayak adventure just to pull of the waterfall jump. “We wanted to push the boundaries of our sport,” Stookesberry told the Mail. Running waterfalls is incredibly risky, he added. Running a waterfall at one of the remotest places on the planet made things even more dangerous, but there was no stopping the three pioneers. While Oliva hurled himself feet first into the sea below, Korbulic did a backflip and Stookesberry went via kayak. The drop was a daunting 65 ft. The team needed to wear special drysuits to stop hypothermia from taking a grip.

Annie Edson Taylor

Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, is a magnet for daredevils of all stripes. Annie Edson Taylor has a special place in the history of Niagara waterfall diving because she was the first person to survive a trip over the edge in a barrel. Remarkably, Taylor executed the stunt on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901. She emerged okay, if a little bloody, but left a stern warning to future Adrenalists: “No one ought ever do that again.” Her daring feat owed much to the example set by her predecessor: a domestic cat called Iagara. The test cat was launched over Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to check its strength on Oct. 19. The cat, which turned out to be fine, later posed with Taylor in photographs. Since Annie Taylor’s wild ride, 14 Adrenalists have deliberately rolled over the falls in or on a device despite her stern warning. Some survived unharmed, others were drowned. All faced fines because, both sides of the border, it is illegal to try to ride the falls.

Karel Soucek

Czechoslovakian action sport athlete Karel Soucek was a Canadian professional stuntman who pushed himself to the absolute limit, but not before testing his stunt plan vigorously. Soucek rehearsed for his 1984 Niagara Falls stunt thoroughly, launching unmanned barrels over the falls to test the currents. He even stress-tested his 9-foot-long barrel by dropping it off the Niagara Escarpment. Bright-red, his barrel carried the slogan: “Last of the Niagara Daredevils – 1984″ and “It’s not whether you fail or triumph, it’s that you keep your word… and at least try!”

Soucek was true to his word. On Jul. 2, 1984, tucked inside his barrel, he rolled to the brink of Niagara Falls. In a blink, the barrel dove over the edge. Soon after, like Taylor, Soucek arose bleeding and was fined $500 for doing the stunt without a license. His planned next trick was to build a museum at Niagara Falls in which he would show off his stunt gear. In a bid to fund the museum, he persuaded a corporation to sponsor him doing a 180-ft barrel drop from the top of Houston Astrodome into a water tank. Alas, the Astrodome stunt, which recreated his Niagara one, proved fatal. The last of the Niagara daredevils is buried at the Drummond Hill Cemetery at Niagara Falls.

Steve Trotter

Following hot on the heels of Soucek’s original Niagara exploit, in August 1985, Rhode Island stuntman Steve Trotter had his turn at conquering the falls. Trotter, then 22, became the youngest person ever and the first American in a quarter century to roll over Niagara Falls in a barrel. His vessel was built from two pickle barrels put end-to-end. The outside was covered with strips of fiberglass and balsa wood for buoyancy and wrapped with shock absorbing truck tire inner tubes. Strapped into a harness, the redoubtable, supremely organized Trotter had flashlights, two-way radio, lifejacket, and oxygen tanks. Surviving with a few dents and dings, he described the ride as “like the best roller-coaster ride you had as a 10-year-old.” A decade later, proving he was still hungry, the adventurer whizzed over the falls again as seen in the video above. The repeat feat made him only the second person to go over the falls twice and survive – it was also the second-ever “duo” because fellow daredevil Lori Martin accompanied Trotter. Alas, their barrel became wedged at the foot of the falls, forcing a rescue. Worse, Trotter fractured his back and was fined but went on to attempt further pulse-pounding feats.

Cover Photo Credit: wsaryada /

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