Paul Gamache Seattle, WA
Paul Gamache has literally taken his paddling to new heights when the HSU alum set the record for a descent in a kayak in the Cascade Falls on British Columbia's Kettle River.
Plummeting more than 108', Gamache broke the existing record while somehow managing to not break his collarbone (or anything else for that matter). "We didn't know how tall it was. It looked like a waterfall that was runnable. We calculated the risks and decided that it added up," said Gamache, who wasn't expecting to set any records on his weekend excursion with his buddies.
After belaying in to a small undercut cave directly above the waterfall, Gamache got the 'OK' from his team, who were positioned safely around the waterfall.
"The hardest part about the falls wasn't actually paddling over them. It was getting to the point of being committed to do so," Gamache said.
"The feeling of paddling off the drop was pretty intense. The width of the falls at the lip was only about 7 to 8 feet; boat width is about 2 feet. Go too far left, and there was a boil to flip me at the top. Go too far right and there's a rooster tail, or kicker, that would have shot me out over the falls and landed me flat or on my head—neither of which are good options."
"I paddled off the waterfall and managed to stay in control as I gained speed. During the last 20 feet or so, I just closed my eyes and waited for impact about a half second later. At the bottom my paddle broke but I managed to roll up with half the paddle still intact. All things considered, the impact was surprisingly mellow."
It was only after this harrowing drop that Gamache and his team measured the fall and realized he had broken the previous record of 107' set by Tyler Bradt on Alexandria Falls, also in Canada.
Gamache arrived at HSU in 2002 to study Recreation Administration. Since earning a business minor was required, he decided to put in the extra effort to earn a business degree with an emphasis in marketing, in addition to his Rec. Admin. degree. He also earned a minor in economics to round out his education.
At HSU, Gamache was able to combine his love for kayaking with his educational pursuits. "All the professors were really encouraging. As long as you're passionate about something, the professors will find a way to make it work with your education. I was able to focus my marketing on the kayaking field, which was a great way to mix my school with my outside life."