On a roll with his jaw-dropping, record-setting kayaking, Dane Jackson puts another huge accomplishment on his record. On February 7, 2020 he became the first person to drop the 134-foot Salto del Maule waterfall in Chile. This waterfall is now listed as the second tallest waterfall to ever been run in a kayak next to Washington’s Palouse Falls (189 feet).
Salto del Maule is not the only record to fall
This news is coming only months after Jackson’s Green Race victory where he not only came in first place, but also managed to set a new course record while doing it.
Dane’s first descent of Chile’s Salto del Maule was over four years in the making. “It’s the most glorious feeling coming over that blind horizon and then staring down the beast,” he said.
The 26-year-old Jackson, who has now completed six waterfalls that are at least 100ft (30m) high, has spent the last decade traveling the planet in search of new places to freestyle kayak as well as dominating the competition scene since he won the Whitewater Grand Prix in 2011.
We had a chance to catch up with Dane to learn more about the preparation, the feeling as he was crossing the lip, and why he had his eyes on this waterfall.
5 questions for Dane Jackson about his Salto del Maule first descent
1) Choosing this waterfall
Paddling Magazine: What led you to want to drop the Salto del Maule waterfall specifically?
Dane Jackson: When my friend showed me a photo of the drop a few years ago it just looked so unreal. Over the last few years, I’ve constantly seen photos and been watching videos and always felt it was doable. This year when that same friend sent me an Instagram video, I knew it was time to find out.
2) Breaking personal records
PM: What was the highest waterfall you had dropped before doing the Salto del Maule?
DJ: I’ve done five other drops over the 100-foot mark, my highest was probably Alexandra Falls at 110 feet. When scouting the drop, I thought it was around 110, so I felt really confident in the line. I’m glad I waited till after I ran it to measure it because if I had known its height beforehand maybe it would have messed with my confidence on doing it right.
3) Prep work for the plunge
PM: What kind of preparation goes into a first-descent of a waterfall and specifically what you did to prepare for this one?
DJ: More than anything, just made sure it looked good to do. I got to see it without water which allowed me to see it was deep enough in the middle. Then with water, the lip and landing looked great. In terms of preparing, I only knew I was headed to check it out a month before, and I didn’t know it was the second tallest drop till after. But over the last year, I have run a lot of waterfalls, so it came at a good time because I am super confident in my control on drops right now.
4) Experiencing the sublime
PM: Tell us a bit about what it felt like going into the drop.
DJ: More than anything, I was just stoked. It was a waterfall I had wanted for so long so to know I was going to get to experience it. Once it was game time, it was like 30 seconds of making it to the lip. Once I was going over it was hard to not be mind blown on how epic that view was. Salto del Maule is definitely one of the most incredible locations I have ever experienced, and the drop too.
5) What’s on the horizon
PM: Do you have other waterfalls in mind for future first descents?
DJ: Just want to keep doing it all! Definitely a few drops in mind. Right now, I am headed to Indonesia for two months so I imagine there is a lot of falling in my future.
Video of Dane Jackson’s first-descent of the Salto del Maule waterfall: