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Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea

In 2015, our kayak athletes Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic headed deep into the jungle in Papua New Guinea with their teammates to attempt the first decent of the beautiful Beriman River Gorge, one of the most remote places on earth.

Papua New Guinea
Lying just south of the equator, the island nation of Papua New Guinea is part of an arc of mountains stretching from Asia and into the South Pacific. It is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with over 800 indigenous languages.

The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

The Beriman river runs for 50 miles through 13 gorges and descends 4,000 feet to the sea through narrow limestone canyons deep in the jungle. Wanting to learn as much about their route as possible, the team took a week to scout the river by helicopter. They used a high-resolution video camera to get an initial look at the aqua-blue water running through canyons that were so deep and narrow, they couldn’t be seen with satellite imagery.

They knew from the beginning that it would be an incredibly challenging and dangerous mission. Once Ben, Chris, and their teammates put their boats in the river, there would be no chance for rescue—or resupply.

Class 6 Rapids & Plenty of White Water

Over the first few days, they ran 3 gorges, encountering blind sections of white water and class 6 rapids. From the information they’d gathered earlier, they knew that eight of the 13 gorges were un-runable. They pulled their kayaks out of the water after gorge 4 and hauled them up the canyon wall. The team spent the better part of a week carrying their heavily loaded kayaks for miles through the dense jungle foliage. Portaging around the next 4 gorges took longer than expected. They began to run low on food and suffer from painful cases of foot rot.

When Ben, Chris, and team finally put in, they were able run the rest of the gorges and were welcomed by the bright turquoise water of the Solomon Sea on day 13. It was the most extreme expedition they had ever undertaken, and it earned them both the honor of 2016 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

Meet the Athletes
Ben Stookesberry
Eddie Bauer Kayaking Athlete
When Ben calls with a plan, only a select few answer, because his kayaking expeditions include 132 first descents on Class V and VI rivers in some of the most remote places on earth, from Central Africa and Pakistan to Patagonia and Bhutan. With Eddie Bauer teammate Chris Korbulic, Ben has survived epic-to-the-point-of-ridiculous missions. The pair recently ran the cave-fed rivers of the Iso Gorge in Papua New Guinea. And in the Svalbard Archipelago of Norway, Ben ran a 65-foot waterfall into the Arctic Ocean.
Chris Korbulic
Eddie Bauer Kayaking Athlete
As an expedition white-water kayaker and pro photographer, Chris has ticked a life list of big-water first descents in some of the most remote corners of the globe. Patagonia. Indonesia. Central Africa. The Arctic. In fact, his pursuit of untouched water has taken him to every continent except Antarctica. Chris has pioneered a succession of world-class waterfalls, including 100+ foot Rainbow Falls in Hawaii and another hundred-footer dubbed 199 Problems in California.