Is Ben Stookesberry Male Paddler of the Year?

By Tim Mutrie

As Ben Stookesberry shouldered his pink Jackson kayak toward the put-in Saturday, along the Roaring Fork River near Carbondale, Colo., I couldn’t help but notice that the boat was basically brand new. It struck me as somehow incongruous for the kayaker I’d read so much about in the last six months, but Stookesberry downplayed it—he said the boat actually belonged to his friend and expedition partner, Chris Kurbolic. Stookesberry’s river booties told a different story: wraps of duct tape held the toe of his right shoe together.

Stookesberry, along with Korbulic, kayaker Brad Ludden and other decorated outdoor adventure athletes, gathered in Aspen last weekend as part of the second annual Outside (magazine) in Aspen event. I took the opportunity to head out for some paddling with Stookes and Ludden (Korbulic was participating in a filmmaker’s clinic) on a pumping, albeit mellow for the likes of Stookes and Ludden, stretch of the Fork. Later, post-paddling and pre-party, we distilled down some topics of recent conversation in this candid video interview, centering around Stookesberry’s latest directorial effort, “Kadoma,” which has screened twice in Colorado since premiering at a Telluride film festival last month. The documentary chronicles Hendri Coetzee’s last expedition, in the African Congo, with Stookesberry and Korbulic, and it is a powerful film worth seeing.

Check out the official trailer for “Kadoma,” below, and links to further C&K coverage of Hendri, here.