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Old 11-07-2011   #31
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
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Posts: 520
"They say that person died doing what they loved."

I say, incorrect asshole! What they loved was getting the job done and living to tell about it........

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Old 11-07-2011   #32
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Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 983
My best friend quit kayaking for this specific reason, he was pushing it too hard and had seen our friends die and wasn't willing to take the risk of kayaking cutting short the rest of his life. This happened a bit over a year ago and has made me really examine why I kayak and more importantly why I choose to put myself in these dangerous situations and it has made me a better paddler and decision maker because of it. I have a similar stance to a lot of you that life is to short not to live it, and not that I would rather die kayaking but that it would suck if I quit because of the risk and then got hit by a car next week. I disagree that this is "his" life to do what he pleases, his decisions on the water effects people around him, I have and will continue to tell people they can't run things because I couldn't live with the consequences of their mistake and I hope some others do the same.

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Old 11-08-2011   #33
wannabe kayaker
Dayton, Ohio
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 56
I really liked what Doug Ammons had to say about this subject in his interview with In Between Swims. It's not just Tyler's life, he also has family and friends that love him. For him to throw that away carelessly is entirely selfish. That's not to say that we live life avoiding risk, and that the drive to the river can often be more dangerous than the river itself. But that we really should take time to consider how the risks we take affect others.

One thing that I read a couple of years ago, and I've been trying to find it again ever since, was an interview a magazine did with a number of top paddlers (Canoe and Kayak? Anyone know?). A bunch, like Tyler, were talking about how bad they were and that they were pushing the limits like never before. Then EJ talked about how he loved kayaking so much that when he was looking at running a rapid that he evaluated it not only based upon whether he would be killed, but also whether it would affect his ability to paddle tomorrow. My respect for EJ went through the roof with that thought, because that's what it means to really love kayaking or anything else. I would rather enjoy a class II river for the next 50 years, than paddle class V for the next 5 and be kept from ever paddling again. I'd rather enjoy my wife and son for the next 50 years than have fun on a river for the next 5. Our desire for instant gratification is what will keep us from long term happiness.
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Old 11-08-2011   #34
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 267
This type of stuff should be on all our minds, but each person handles it differently. I've had close friends lose their lives in this sport and in others. I've seen friends quit kayaking altogether because of a loss. Calculating skill, risks, and rewards is a big part of kayaking no matter what class it is. I used to run class V without even thinking of the risks, but now I seem to push harder with more on my mind than ever. I still run hard Vs, but I don't mind walking something if I'm not feeling it that day. Everyone has a different comfort level, and each person enjoys life differently. I think it is really hard to judge anyone on their mindset!
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Old 11-08-2011   #35
chicago, Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 29
pretty much like soldiers in the field swearing they are willing to die for their country. I'm definitely not willing to die or get hurt in kayaking, coz I think it's quite lame, but when running rapid or whatever, the less hesitation you have the better, so I like to forget about all sort of risk when I'm already in it, give it 200%, and hope for the best.
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Old 11-08-2011   #36
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 141
FOR kayaking?

An interesting thread for sure. It is particularly interesting to see people inadvertently insert their own perspectives into someone else's life conditions. I'm sure his perspective will change as (if?) he gets older but he is in the process of defining who he is right now, as many of us have done in the past, though perhaps not at this level!
I think the most interesting point of the original post was the claim, and I assume it was an accurate quote from the movie, that he is willing to die FOR the sport, as opposed to IN PURSUIT of the sport. I'm not exactly sure what that would do FOR the sport. I suppose it would position it as a more extreme pursuit and keep more folks off the river but that helps only those who still paddle, not the sport as a whole. I am guessing the point he was making was that pushing the limits, accepting death as a possibility, advances the sport rather than actually dieing. Though the stuff he runs is absurd in my book, the stuff I run was considered absurd until someone first ran it and now it gets run regularly. I doubt we are too far off from Pallouse (sp?) Falls becoming a rite of passage for the up and coming third year boaters.
Vaya Con Rios!

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Old 11-08-2011   #37
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
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Language is such a limiting method of communication. If you can't relate to where he is coming from (clearly you can't) then you don't even really know what he is saying. It can be many of the things others have said here, or something totally different. Maybe it just means that mental level of commitment (XXX "to die" has always meant to do it to the fullest), maybe it is really saying the obvious which is never stated (we all must be ready to die when we get in cars, shit we put on seat belts!), maybe he's having fun with the stupid media. It sounds like you have some of your own issues to deal with, as those are so commonly projected onto others.

Of course he'll feel differently when he is 50 about what he is doing. What you don't know if he'll be more proud, less, if he'll be hurt and regretful, or wish he did more because others just kept pushing the limits past him, or what. One thing is for sure, it's a good thing he's doing it now because starting something like that at 40 ain't gonna happen. Wild living is for the young, do it while you can, however you like.

I've been thinking a lot about Class V boating, and I recently came across a video that put words to what is so damn fun about it. I think it is maximum speed processing required in both lobes of the brain, and more importantly, high speed processing of them together. Full absorption of what is going on (vision, balance, sounds) and then shoving that over to the left brain to decide what the hell to do with it. Every split second 50,000 pieces of input, make a decision, do it over again.

Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight | Video on
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 11-08-2011   #38
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Are you willing to die in pursuit of what brings you happiness?

Or would you rather die having avoided the risks associated with what brings you happiness, and missing out on that? Not all will be drawn to places that require the risking of their lives, and not all who are drawn there will find happiness in that place. But for those who find fulfillment on the edge, happiness there, in our limited time here on Earth, for them - it might just be worth it.
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Old 11-08-2011   #39
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Golden, CO
Paddling Since: 1856
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 339
I have to agree with this guy. It's all about physics at some point. Once you start dropping from a certain height it is just a matter of time before you break your back and become paralyzed, dead or damaged for life. I would say this is very different from taking your chances running a Class V+ rapid.

Originally Posted by blutzski View Post
The frontal lobe isn't fully developed in human males until about 30. Tyler has a way to go.

Does seem odd to me that he specializes in running waterfalls when his biggest nightmare is breaking his back. The human spine is not made to do that. He says he's willing to die for the sport but is he willing to be paralyzed for it? Is he willing to have chronic back pain for the last 40 years of his life? I can better understand what Garcia, Norquist, Stokesberry, Korbulic, etc. are doing than guys like Brandt and Ortiz. Pretty big risks either way, but the former guys are placing their bets on their training and skill. Brandt definitely has the training and skill, but the weak link in his bet is his spine. No amount of training or skill will compensate for that. For him it seems more a matter of when, not if he becomes paralyzed. At least when you mess up class VI you still have a decent chance of surviving. When you boof a 95 footer you will probably survive, but your spine's chances are slim.
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Old 11-08-2011   #40
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Anyone who runs the kind of stuff Tyler and Co. do is by default accepting a significant risk that they could die. If you don't think about the potential of death seriously at this level then you are delusional. I think the terminology of "ready to die" is simply another way of rephrasing the reality that death is a potential outcome at the fringe extremes of the sport that has a higher probability than at lower difficulty levels.

This is no different from mountaineering, free solo climbing, big mountain skiing, big wave surfing or any other action sport performed at the ragged edge of current ability. Multiple people die in avalanches, rockfall, climbing falls, surf drownings, and kayak drownings while performing at the highest levels of difficulty.

I think that many of the people that perform at these extreme levels are off the charts on the bell curve of risk taking. A theory of mine is that this risk taking approach of a very small portion of the population is a key genetic trait which has propelled the human race to new discoveries and achievements. Tyler first D's a 180 ft falls. I think this is a similar radical mindset as the first guys to set sail across the world when the didn't know if they would fall off the face of the earth. Its the same mindset of the first guys to explore antartica, the first guys to summit everest, the list goes on and on. It embodies the risk taking explorer mindset.

Human survival depends on the fact that 99.9% of us are risk averse, will come home to the family, and will live long lives. Human advancement depends on the fact that 0.1% of us are out of the box risk takers who shatter preconcieved limits and redefine what the human species can do. I don't have the data to prove it, but I'd guess the average life expectancy of the 0.1% risk takers is significantly lower that the average population.

Its silly for the 99.9% risk averse people to call out the 0.1% risk takers for their chosen risk profile. Its a completely different mind set that shouldn't make sense to the risk averse. I for one celebrate the fact that there are people out there willing to take those risks. I love reading about people doing crazy shit from the comfort of my risk averse couch. Props to Tyler and the rest of the risk takers out there for pushing the limits and being willing to step up in the face of massive risk and uncertainty.

"The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long... and you have burned very, very brightly" is the quote that comes to mind.

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