By Tyler Williams
Kayakers driving Interstate 84 between Salt Lake City and Boise have a standard leg-stretching stop called the Malad Gorge. Hiding beneath rolling farmland, most motorists don’t even notice the small Malad River as it drops through a basalt canyon underneath the freeway, but a stop here reveals an appealing series of rapids in a tight canyon. Problem is, those drops culminate with a 60-foot waterfall. For some, that only increases the appeal.
The late Charlie Beavers first paddled through this keyhole to oblivion, surviving a piton halfway down the falls that was recorded in an infamous video clip. Idaho paddler Seth Stoner ran it a couple years later at higher water, and had a cleaner line. Thinking that more is better, Dan Simenc and Tyler Allyn gave it a go last spring at a full-on juicy level.
“After scouting it for almost an hour, we had one paddler rappel into the canyon below the falls, and post up with a boat for safety,” Simenc said. “Tyler and I launched below a sieve in the upper canyon and flip-flopped downstream. He got pinned briefly on a wall and I got out of my boat in a shallow eddy just as he worked free. There was a big eddy right above the final entrance where we could size up a guard hole just above the lip.
“That hole was the crux, and I didn’t get a great boof there. I back-endered, and my bow shot up about 30 degrees, but at least I got it down before curling off the lip. Tyler had a better line, but his skirt imploded at the bottom and he had to swim. His boat got totally wrecked in the manky boulder garden downstream. There’s not many gorgy waterfalls in Idaho, so we’ll probably go back.”
Check out photographer Mike Leeds’ killer shot of Dan Simenc running Devil’s Washbowl in C&K’s 2012 Whitewhater Annual (p.11), available on Newsstands May 1.