For every sport, there are defining moments, brief seconds in time that last forever, recognizable by fans and non-fans alike. The shot heard ‘round the World, the immaculate reception, Gretzky’s 894th goal, whatever they are, these events resonate and things are a little bit different from that moment forward. We don’t have a World Series, Super Bowl or Stanley Cup. Instead we etch first descents upon whitewater’s hypothetical mantle as our greatest achievements. Sometimes first descents are more than the birth of new runs; sometimes they make us believe anything is possible.
When Tao Berman successfully cleaned Alberta’s 98.4-foot upper Johnston Falls in 1999, the paddling community perked up. Waterfall descents have increasingly gotten higher but this one not only gave hope the century mark could be broken, it was proof a 100-foot drop was really just a matter of the right river, the right levels and the right stuff.