Idahoans With Whitewater Running Through Their Veins
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Hometown: American Falls, ID
Current Location: Hood River, OR
First Descent: Outlet Falls, WA
Erik Boomer is sitting in his kayak looking down on a calm pool that feeds into an 80-foot waterfall as his buddies lower him down with a rope tied to the tail end of his boat. The entrance to the falls is unrunnable so this is the only way he can get to the drop. Without a second thought, Boomer leans back and severs the rope with his river knife, sending him plunging toward the water. As he’s falling the 15 feet toward the pool, he leans forward and grabs his paddle with both hands. His first stroke plummets him over the falls. Aside from a cut to his head, he styles the drop. Calmly, and quietly, as if all this chaos was normal.
That’s pretty much how Erik Boomer, 26, rolls. He’s like an unassuming rock star, if that’s even possible. He’s a ridiculously good boater but talking big isn’t his thing (think Slash—the Guns & Roses version), going big is (think Robert Plant with Jack Johnson’s attitude). He’s been the first to huck monstrous waterfalls from Hood River, Oregon, to Michigan’s North Shore to Quebec. He’s been featured in countless high-end whitewater videos and been part of some fantastic exploratory teams all over North America. But still, he’s just an unassuming kid from Idaho, who learned to boat from a family friend in junior high when he was living in American Falls.
to embrace it and go for it. –Erik Boomer
Boomer is still running some of the biggest whitewater in the world but he’s developing other aspects of his life now. His photography has taken off and he’s able to support himself off his work. Plus he’s looking at new projects. This summer, he’ll embark on one of his most ambitious expeditions to date: circumnavigating Ellesmere Island, directly north of Baffin Island near Greenland, basically the starting point for North Pole Expeditions. Along withworld waterfall record holder Tyler Bradt and celebrated sea kayaker Jon Turk, Boomer will drag his kayak 600 miles before paddling. The trip will take an estimated three months. “I love the big drop thing and running hard whitewater but I want to raise the bar in other areas to a similar level,” he says. “Extreme conditions. Extreme survival. It all appeals to me.”
It’s a trip that shows the ultimate maturity as a paddler. Most upper echelon kayakers simply quit boating once they’ve finished their Class V careers, unable to replicate that amped feeling with less hazardous strains of boating. “But there’s so much to enjoy in kayaking,” Boomer says. “Life’s about the adventure and you’ve just got to embrace it and go for it. And there’s nothing like living out of your kayak for days on end.”