As much as we love watching our whitewater heroes send the tallest waterfalls and throw down the most impressive tricks, there is something infinitely more satisfying about watching them execute an impressive rescue.
In this video, we see pro kayaker Dane Jackson step in to assist with a nail-biting cave rescue on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon River.
The video starts with Dane feeling “fired up” and enjoying laps on this classic PNW run. But less than 1 minute into the action, things take an ugly turn for the worse. A fellow kayaker has swum from his boat and has become trapped in a dangerous cave, bound by the strong recirculating current.
Dane approaches the waterfall—ready to paddle it—until he realizes something is wrong. He pulls over into a safe spot to access a better vantage point. “There’s someone in the cave!” he yells, as he quickly hops out of his boat and into action.
There is little time to waste. He discusses a plan with his paddle partner and, after setting themselves up in a good spot, they toss a throw rope directly at the swimmer. A perfect throw meant that the swimmer was able to grab onto the line with less difficulty. Both athletes clearly struggle as they heave on the line and attempt to pull the swimmer out of the cave and into the main flow, fighting the current.
Moments later, we breathe a sigh of relief as we see the swimmer—and the kayak—pop out of the cave. Both the boat and the paddler seem to have come out of the incident physically unharmed.
This kayak rescue highlights the importance of having whitewater rescue training. A slower reaction time and/or inadequate equipment could have changed the outcome of this event entirely. While our paddling skills may not be on par with Dane’s, we can certainly make sure our rescue skill set is just as impressive.