Ben Stookesberry and Rafa Ortiz got up earlier
rest of the group on day six. They were on a mission to scout out the
gigantic waterfall, "Big Banana Falls" fromthe
before. The rest of us got a
late start of 6:30 and headed to the
waterfall staging area.
Herbeck walking back in to the falls, note the small town way up on the
Ben and Rafa scouted the falls we worked on finding
a safe rappel spot. The thick jungle gave us a few issues, but
eventually we found a nice anchor that would drop us into a large eddy
feeding back under the waterfall. We knew the first person going would
need to rappel with a kayak attached. Eric Seymour opted to go first,
and is getting ready to drop over the edge.
Speaking of over the edge, we had brought a 70 meter
(230’) rope on the trip. We knew that we would have to single
strand the rappel, as it was well over 115’. In fact it was
large, on the first anchor we checked, the rope didn’t even
the water. Thankfully on this one it did, with perhaps 10’
in the water. Eric’s rappel seemed to go well, but he
the bottom that it wasn’t ok to rappel with a boat. Eric
was up next, and had never rappelled before. Needless to say this is a
large rappel to start off on, but after some quick instruction EJ was
game and dropped off with no problems, followed by alternations of
boats and people until our part of the group was at the bottom.
Herbeck, Nick Troutman, Eric Seymour, Lucas Gilman, Eric Jackson, all
safe at the bottom.
After a long, intense scout, Ben and Rafa decided not to
run the waterfall. Ben rappelled with his boat, and like Eric found it
was way too much weight and friction on the rappel and suffered some
Stookesberry at the bottom of the rappel.
Rafa started to drop over and we got his
unfortunately he was already in the first twenty feet of the rappel and
had a hard time ditching his boat, which he eventually did. If you look
closely in this picture you can see his boat just below the rappel
Ortiz, enjoying one of the world’s most beautiful rappels.
almost to the bottom with EJ out there to pick him up.
that far away from the waterfall the wind was brisk, you can see the
webbing tail from Rafa’s harness blowing in the breeze.
and EJ making it back to land.
Rafa Ortiz returned in 2010 and ran Big Banana Falls.
It ended up taking us longer than expected to rappel the
group, but was still only around two in the afternoon and we decided to
head downstream for another kilometer to the next bridge.Four
or five junky rapids
later and we were at the entrance to another boxed in gorge that
wasn’t supposed to exist, at least according to the map. The
group split in two with some checking out the downstream options while
the other half bushwhacked up a small draw in hope of gaining access to
the ridge above the gorge. After perhaps half an hour we regrouped at
our boats to discuss the options, which were rather slim. Downstream
progress was not feasible due to the nature of the gorge, and the small
draw cliffed out with no way to climb out. Now it was starting to get
late in the day, and we knew darkness would set in on us in a few hours.
Quick discussion commenced and we were attaining
upstream, portaging any rapids run and paddling up the flats. I had
never attained up a river like this before, and found it to be pretty
exhausting, but after lots of work we were all at the base of the
waterfall again. We quickly dropped gear and got ready to start on the
hour long hike out, hoping to make it out before dark. Quick time was
made up the steep but well maintained trail, and we arrived in the
small town noted in the first picture. Ben and Rafa quickly set about
negotiating a ride into town, while the rest of the group enjoyed a
After the normal delays we were in the back of a pickup,
down the road, only to run into Israel and Thayer five minutes down the
road, on it as always.