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Old 09-12-2012   #1
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
Jeff West rip

Jeff died on the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. Info just coming out. I didn't know Jeff well but I knew him well enough to know that he was a dam good man.

BoaterTalk: BoaterTalk - Jeff West

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Old 09-12-2012   #2
Boof it like you stole it
G-wood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 83
The Man, the myth, the legend! An amazing ambassador to kayaking. He brought thousands of people into whitewater, and now he has passed doing the thing he loved most; running the shit! Jeff's soul will be dearly missed by many, and especially myself and family.

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Old 09-12-2012   #3
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Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 1,471
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Such a shitty deal. Jeff was probably the smoothest paddler I've ever seen. Just flowed with the water. I first met him when he had rented a Jeep Cherokee and put the back seats down. Then he tied loops around the front seats and added a caribeaner. In this way, he was able to complete a vertical mile on Clear Creek of the Ark by just throwing the boats in the back and clipping them in without closing the hatch. Something stupid like 21 laps. He used the same rig to bust a vertical mile on OBJ.

Truly loved paddling and loved taking other people out to paddle just to see their joy. Ran the gnar with the best of them and loved every day teaching on the Occoee. Best quote I saw on his FB page, "today we lost a hero and gained a river god"
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Old 09-12-2012   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
So sad. Jeff was a phenomenal paddler. He was a great teacher, and he was always kind. When Jeff was around... he just had this positive energy that was infectious.

I paddled the Ocoee with Jeff for the first time as a rank novice, and it was one of the best days I have ever had on the water. I'll never forget sitting in the eddy near the end of the run... my first class III, and Jeff looked at me with a huge smile and said... "you are gonna love creekin!". Of course he was right... he had a way of understanding other paddlers that was uncanny.

Jeff inspired confidence in the people he coached, and I am a better paddler because of Jeff. Jeff took me down the Tellico for my first waterfall experience, and it was another great experience.

My first run down OBJ was at the tail end of Jeff's now legendary vertical mile day on OBJ. Jeff and his buddies took the time to take 3 nervous buddies down OBJ while they were busting out some ungodly number of laps.

On top of being a great paddler, Jeff was simply an incredible athlete. He is the definition of a badass paddler... the iron man of paddlers. When the TVF first came out... he crushed it... several times. Did something like 10 laps on the green... paddled the grand canyon in a long boat in five days (he told me he ran up and back to havasu falls on that trip). He did the stikine in a day. He told me stories of running the hardest V+ whitewater in the southeast solo... because he couldn't find folks to paddle that hard with him.

We lost a legend. I'll miss you Jeff.
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Old 09-12-2012   #5
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 189
This is horrible news...I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to get to know jeff and paddle with him. I'm no where near the caliber of paddler that Jeff was, but when I got the opportunity to paddle with him I always did. He had a way of making me feel comfortable no matter what. When I first met him and began to paddle with him, I would always get so nervous that I would screw up in front of silly...he of all people never cared if I screwed up or couldn't make the cool move! This loss will resonate throughout the kayaking community. Jeff's huge smile and positive attitude will be missed by so many. What he did as a kayaker is nothing short of amazing, but what he was as a person is even more amazing.

He was an absolute freak of nature...he was Superman. RIP my friend.

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Old 09-12-2012   #6
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 40
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I'll miss you buddy

This has been a tough day. I knew Jeff pretty well.

I met Jeff at the Chatooga in 1997. I had never been down the run and stopped in to see what section IV was like. He was a monster of a dude. Picked up his RPM and slammed in on top of his boat dented roof and said, "factory racks". That's when things got interesting.

The next week we met and ran the Green. And again, and again, and again. His perseverance and strength were inspirational. For a while I was convinced that he was Gorilla, the rapid was named after him.

Paddling that winter was fun. Most weekends I would meet him at the Green. I remember going into my corporate job in Atlanta with knuckles that looked like I was in a bar fight. Snowy days on the Green at 200% weren't always forgiving.

I had some awesome times with Jeff. I'll miss him. I hope his last trip was one hell of a ride.

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Old 09-12-2012   #7
atlanta, Georgia
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2
A True River God

Someone said Superman wears Jeff West pajamas to bed... and they were spot on.

I'm an avid backpacker but having "hip issues", and thought kayak camping would be nice to add to my adventures.

I saw a Groupon for a kayak lesson and figured I'd give it a whirl. I had no clue that was even such a thing as whitewater kayaking. But the universe decided I needed to meet Jeff West and it changed my life July 5, 2012.

After going down the Hiwassee, Jeff suggested I start learning my roll... Now mind you, I thought I was signing up for a flatwater class. He had me in the kayak, leaning sideways in the water as he held my boat. I was wearing a top "not conducive for this position" and was concerned about "spillage". And my face is in Jeff's crotch. He's talking about me snapping my hips. I have no idea what the he** was talking about, but I am laughing so hard, I tell him I'm too distracted to continue that day.

We had an incredible conversation at the take-out, where I saw his infectious passion. He inspired me. I took more instruction with him. I am by no means "naturally gifted" when it comes to paddling, but with Jeff's encouragement, I have been up at the Hiwassee 3-4days a week since that first lesson. After every time, I'd head over to the Ocoee and watch others' lines, bracing, etc. Inevitably, Jeff was everywhere - I'd see his white helmet, green Werner paddle passing by - with that smile on his face.

I'd call him with a seemingly simple question and he'd talk 90mph over my head, non-stop. I remember when he said something about boofing - I had *NO* idea what he was talking about. He was so happy to help someone like me.

I told Jeff my goal was to paddle down the Middle Ocoee & live. He promised me that with my determination and help, I'd get there. I got my a** kicked last weekend on the Nanty, but darnit, I want to get my skill level to make it down the Middle - for Jeff. I know he'll have that grin on his face up above.

Every time I approach a rapid, I hear Jeff's voice telling me to "keep paddling hard and don't stop" in my head. Now, I know there's a river angel on my shoulder.
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Old 09-12-2012   #8
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 267
I sit here at work, wishing I was on the water. I read about Jeff's death from freinds on FB, and now the tears just keep coming. We paddled together a countless number of times. He made me a better paddler, and taught me to be confident in my skills. I'm still in shock, and hope I wake up soon...
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Old 09-13-2012   #9
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Paddling Life - Trusted News Source - Sea Kayaking, Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, Canoeing, Kayak Fishing, Photos

The paddling life article add a few details to the events on the Stikine.

Its pretty tough to mentally deal with events like this. My mind keeps on going back... thinking... wondering... blown skirt? broken paddle? caught in a hole? Of course it is futile, and impossible to know, but yet I still wonder... searching for answers that will never come.

When my mind wanders into the deeper and darker thoughts of what those last moments might have been like... well its a horrible mental place to be, and yet I find it difficult to turn it off. I keep telling myself to stop thinking about it, but for some reason... my brain keeps going back to it.

Its also haunting to go back and read Jeff's write up of the one day Stikine run with Boomer and Wells. In that article he acknowledges the lethal nature of the run and comments that you depend on your paddling and your gear not failing to keep you alive.
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Old 09-13-2012   #10
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 432
To solo class V is something most paddlers never commit to. They each have their reasons why and they live longer for it. For some, however, the fulfillment of their passion requires the selfish commitment to it all. To the solo. Like Mark Twight says, in Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber, “The beauty of the high places is tempered by threat and danger...I understand my lifestyle may eventually kill me.....I can not turn off my hunger. I demand more from my self. Some men have high ideals, which they’re willing to die for. Others are willing to try living for them.” Jeff tried living the best he knew how and I will forever respect him for that. RIP.

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