Legends of Rafting: Mark Cramer

Mark Cramer is the only person to have rafted North America’s big-water Triple Crown: Turnback Canyon of the Alsek, Devils Canyon of the Susitna, and Grand Canyon of the Stikine. The three descents are each big-water milestones in and of themselves, coursing through committing canyons in grizzly-inhabited wilderness. On top of that, favorable water levels are a must, which is why only a select group of kayakers have ever completed the Triple. No rafters had even attempted it, until Cramer. But taking rafts into new territory is a natural progression for him. Learning with the cumbersome equipment of the 1970s, Cramer helped take boating from its humble beginnings to the high performance of today, step by careful step. With precise and aggressive high-siding, and honed rowing technique, he doesn’t flip often. And even when he does turn over, it’s only a hiccup in his run. With innovative modifications to the catarafts he rows, Cramer can right his flipped boats in a matter of seconds, and stop in the most improbable eddys. This new approach has gotten Cramer down Class V stretches once thought of as kayaks-only territory: California’s South Merced, Middle Feather and Rubicon, Idaho’s Lolo Creek, Secesh and Golden Canyon and North Fork Payette, and of course the Triple Crown.

Read: Legends of Rafting, Mark Cramer | Canoe & Kayak