MONTANA TRAGEDY - Mountain Buzz
 



 
 
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Old 09-14-2008  
 
Emigrant, Montana
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 21
MONTANA TRAGEDY

The Headwaters Paddling Association is sad to report the drowning death of one of Montana’s most talented paddlers, Rob Kendall. Rob perished Saturday, September 13, 2008, on the Quake Lake section of the Madison River in southwest Montana at a HPA hosted event.

The Quake Lake section of the Madison is a well known, regularly paddled Class IV- V stretch of river. Local Class V paddlers run this stretch throughout the year, because of the dependable daily flows due to Hebgen Dam. It is a very continuous piece of whitewater at any flow, and is known for its many sharp rocks that lurk just beneath the surface, as a result of a major earthquake in the 1950’s. Rob was very familiar with this stretch, and had been paddling it for several years, and nobody would have expected it to be any trouble for him.

Recent flows at Quake Lake have been rather large, due to mechanical problems with the dam. Flows Saturday were over 3,000 cfs. Normal September flows for this stretch are just above 1000 cfs. Due to the high flows, the HPA, and the participating paddlers there that day, had decided to cancel the scheduled race. However, a few paddlers decided to stay and paddle it just for fun.

Rob was knocked over at the top of the crux rapid the “S-turn” and missed several roll attempts in the huge waves and holes that create the rapid. At some point he came out of his boat, and had to swim a long stretch of continuous big water Class V. He was in arm reach of three different throw bag tosses, but was never able to get to one. He was swept into one of the many standing snags (dead trees) that are in the middle of the river channel as remnants from the earthquake.

After being pinned on the snag for a short time, another paddler jumped into the river to go to his aid. This paddler was wearing a rescue vest and was tethered to other paddlers on the shore. After being freed from the tree, Rob continued on downstream through several smaller rapids until he was pulled ashore unconscious by other paddlers. CPR was started instantly.

Of the people on hand for the event, there were several EMT’s, a flight nurse, an ER nurse, and a Cardiologist. All worked diligently to save Rob, until a rescue helicopter arrived to take him to the nearest Hospital in Idaho Falls, ID. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. The HPA would like to thank those that tried so hard to resuscitate him, they truly did every thing they could, and put up a valiant effort. Thank you very much.

Everyone in the local paddling community is in a state of shock, because Rob was such a well liked and respected paddler. For those of us that knew Rob, and had paddled with him, he will always be known for his smooth paddling style, great lines through tough rapids, his big smile and the twinkle in his eyes. Rob lived a life of passion and always will be remembered as a great paddler and great friend. Our hearts go out to all of his family and friends.

Jason Matthews/ Headwaters Paddling Association





montanamusher is offline  
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Old 09-15-2008  
 
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 179
My thoughts and prayers go out to all of his family and friends.

What a bummer a way to end the summer.

George
gbmaz is offline  
Old 09-15-2008  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 404
So sad to hear it. I would be interested to hear an account from the scene so we all can learn. Sounds like there was a lot of safety set up there if he missed 3 throw bag tosses. With the speed the river is moving through there, that means there were maybe 3 safety people set up along the river. Like any Class V stretch at high water, that river is O.C. at those flows and easy to get worked. Those dead snags are nasty as well on the lower part of the run. I had a friend swim at 1,500cfs well below the s-turn at the last sticky hole and he had a very frightening swim coughing up water for a while on the bank. Can anyone post a bio on Rob Kendall, I would like to get to know the guy? I'm sure he was an incredible person with a love for the rivers.
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Old 09-15-2008  
 
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Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 94
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 745
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Sad news, thoughts go out to family and friends

Gary
Gary E is offline  
Old 09-15-2008  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1
Thanks for spreading the word Jason; it is a very difficult but important task in such times. I can't think of much more to add to your account of the tragedy this weekend. Rob was a wonderful guy and will be missed by all.
Casey is offline  
Old 09-15-2008  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by craporadon View Post
So sad to hear it. I would be interested to hear an account from the scene so we all can learn. Sounds like there was a lot of safety set up there if he missed 3 throw bag tosses. With the speed the river is moving through there, that means there were maybe 3 safety people set up along the river. Like any Class V stretch at high water, that river is O.C. at those flows and easy to get worked. Those dead snags are nasty as well on the lower part of the run. I had a friend swim at 1,500cfs well below the s-turn at the last sticky hole and he had a very frightening swim coughing up water for a while on the bank. Can anyone post a bio on Rob Kendall, I would like to get to know the guy? I'm sure he was an incredible person with a love for the rivers.
That was an account from the scene.

It sounds like there will be a funeral for Rob in Helena this week, and a wake/memorial of sorts held perhaps in Bozeman at a later date, to be determined. Making it to the wake would be a good way to get to know Rob. I wish I had know him better--I hadn't even talked to hime since this spring. Rob was a great guy, and any river trip or camp fire was better with his company, without exception. It should be noted that Rob was also a very good paddler, confident in big, pushy water. He was familiar with the run, and it is well within Rob's experience level even at high water. Without a doubt, Rob was a better paddler than I will ever be. He boated with a quiet, solid competence and overtly smooth style equalled by few.
mike a is offline  
Old 09-16-2008  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1
Rob was an amazing person and those of us who were lucky enough to love, and be loved by him will never forget his generous spirit and kind soul. He was more than just a boater, though it was one of the great loves of his life. He was a lover, a friend, uncle, brother and son. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten. We love you Robbie, now and forever.
IngridM is offline  
Old 09-17-2008  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2
Here is a link to some short video of Rob boating posted on the Bozeman Chronicle website.
Index of /Rob
jv1106 is offline  
Old 09-17-2008  
 
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1
I only met Rob a handfull of times and each time he left me with a positive impression. I will always remember wrestling him at Big T which he won and the first time boating with him on quake. Regards to his family and friends that new Rob the best. He truly will be missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing him.
gotwhitewater is offline  
Old 09-17-2008  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 404
rob

Thanks for the video clips. As this board has pointed out before, kayaking seems a trivial exercise to family and loved ones when one of us dies on the river. Watching Rob on the river in those very moments where we all feel alive reminds us why we do it. The raw footage was so great because at the end of each rapid the videographer let's out a hoot, yeeha. It reminds me of all the times I've hooted when a friend lands in the pool at the bottom of a drop. Those are the moments that define why we kayak. Letting out a big hoot when your buddy sticks the drop in some of the most beautiful untouched places on earth. That's why Rob had such close friends, because they shared those moments together. I am sure some of those same guys who were hootin' for Rob in the video were on Quake Lake with him last week. I know those same guys were giving everything they had to rescue him.
craporadon is offline  
 

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