Idahoans With Whitewater Running Through Their Veins
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Hometown: Ketchum, ID
Current Location: Girdwood, AK
Favorite Descent: Murtaugh section of the Snake River, ID
When Henry Munter was 16, he showed up at the North Fork (of the Payette River) Race with his dad on the river’s upper five miles. His heavily used Perception Dancer was tied to the top of the truck, the bow roped to the bumper the stern attached to the rear of the vehicle. To judge a book by its cover, he looked like a rookie. “I went up to the organizer and he was kind of like, ‘you can wait in the back and somebody can show you down the river,’” he says.
The North Fork tends to make people nervous (especially event organizers) when they think someone who’s inexperienced is trying to jump on the frothing monster. But Munter assured the organizer he knew what he was doing, grabbed his gear and headed for the starting line. Forty-five minutes later, the young Ketchum native had won the race.
The radar is something Munter, now 29, is accustomed to flying far beneath. He hasn’t appeared in any big name videos, his name isn’t the first to come up in conversations referencing elite expedition paddlers. But it should. Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, Canada’s Stikine—twice. He’s been there, done that. And somehow, he’s managed to avoid any deserved media attention while simply doing what matters most to him: paddling.
But in 2008, Munter left an indelible mark on the expedition world with good friends Matt Wilson and Evan Ross. The trio had heard stories about Madagascar and its healthy dose of granite bedrock drainages that had yet to see paddlers. So they made a contact in the island nation, located off the eastern coast of Africa, and in paddling terms, “went for s*&%*.” They completed two full first descents and finished a third river that had only been partially explored–each required nearly seven days of living out of their kayaks. “We’d heard it was stacked over there,” Munter says. “Every one of those rivers required technical scouting and rope work. But the whitewater was awesome.”
A gifted skier, Munter works the winter season in Alaska, heli guiding for Chugach Powder Guides. He also works summers as a river guide for trips on the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon. This leaves the shoulder seasons for boating. “I’ve got a really good setup right now,” Munter says. “I’ve got a bunch of rivers I’d like to do. I want to get back down to Peru. That place is just magic. I guess I’d just like to be running whitewater for the rest of my life.”