Into 2nd Deepest Canyon in North America

At the end of September 2010. Rafa Ortiz, Chris Korbulic, Daniel Migoya and I stood at the brink of one of the most beautiful and daunting canyons in Mexico. In fact according to the guy who is literally writing the whitewater guide book to Mexico, Rocky Contos; there might be only a few rivers in the whole country that would offer the kind of challenge we were about to take on. Situated do west of the tourist Mecca of Mazatlan, and just next door to the south of the monster gorge of the Rio Piaxtla (North America's deepest Canyon), the Rio Presidio is considered to be North America's second deepest river gorge at 7900 feet deep.

Unlike the Piaxtla that Darin McQuoid, Jesse Coombs, James Dusenbery, Rocky Contos, and I first descended in 2009; the Presidio had never been canyoneered before and the majority of a google earth scout was shadowed by a canyon too deep and narrow to be scene from space. Of course the Piaxtla had taught several lessons that would improve the odds of our attempt on the Presidio:

1. Bring twice as much rope as you think you need.
2. Keep a close I on the weather forecasts.
3. Pack enough food for at least 7 nights.
4. There is little or no hope of rescue so the first aid kit should be well appointed.
5. Move quickly through the portages as marijuana plantations are prevalent in the area.
6. Bring enough cameras to capture some of the most spectacular canyon vistas in the world.

From an inconspicuous put-in like some pine covered river on the Colorado Plateau, the Presidio was set to descend some 7000 feet into the core of the Sierra Occidental plateau. With Mexicans Rafa and Daniel on board, we sifted through mountains of local beta about the canyon, only to find a general consensus amongst the locals that our attempt would be met with one danger after the other: "If the scorpions don't get you, than a flash flood will."

But here is the thing. You can't ask or get permission to do a first descent. The question of can you or should you can only be worked out with the canyon and the river while in the act. The only thing we knew for sure while standing at the lonely bridge high on the Rio Presidio in Durango Mexico is that Chris, Rafa, Daniel, and I would try.

An animated retelling of our descent of the Presidio is featured in the January 2011 addition of Outside Magazine. Here is the link to the teaser of the film that I am making from the descent. Stay tuned to jacksonkayak.com for more clips and pics from the Rio Presidio.


Ben Stookesberry

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