Jim Rada, 52, was one of the upper Midwest’s most important whitewater paddlers, a man described by other paddlers as spiritual and modest. Rada, a 30-year paddling veteran, pioneered many of the region’s whitewater runs, and through an unpublished but widely distributed guidebook, introduced other paddlers to the whitewater of three states. On May 17, 2003, Rada died of an apparent heart attack after being caught in a Class V hole on Michigan’s Presque Isle River. Over the years Rada compiled notes on dozens of first descents and runs in Minnesota, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Wisconsin. In the mid 1990s he began distributing a photocopied book called Northwoods Whitewater. Although Northwoods Whitewater was never published officially, many serious paddlers in the region contacted Rada individually to purchase a copy. “The book is really detailed, with lots of personal stories,” said paddler Peter Noren, a manager at Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. “It was an important book in a region where there aren’t a lot of resources (for whitewater). People would not have progressed without it. Anyone involved in the sport (in the region) for any amount of time would know about Jim,” Noren added. “He was quiet but well respected.”
For photos, an incident report and remembrances of Jim Rada, go to the Team Midwest Mountaineering website at www.midwestmtn.com.