Edward Muggridge and Aniol Serrasolses just grabbed the 4th and 5th descents of Ram Falls in Alberta. It’s the largest drop that’s been paddled in 2018 so far. We caught up with Edward to get a little inside scoop on the run.
Glad we could catch you between runs. We heard you had a little fun lately, where’re you based at these days?
Currently kicking it in the back of my Subaru between Squamish and Whistler! Living that good life.
So it’s been awhile, is the brown claw, Jah and laying treats still a thing or am I showing my age? Can you give us the most lingo intensive sentence imaginable?
The brown claw will never die! No, no you’re still in the loop amigo the crews are still out laying some fat treats on some savage stouts!! Its HYPHY to watch and I’m all over it!! I think that we need to come up with some new lingo here soon though! It feels like there haven’t been any groundbreaking ideas recently, but there’s a new generation on the rise and with it maybe some additions to my vocabulary.
Why kayaking? Why not a different sport that brings you to the same places and mental challenges like professional ping pong?
Haha, based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen, professional Ping Pong can get pretty intense. I don’t know if my brain can function that quickly! I am more stoked on the cool places I get to see, the crazy adventures I get to go on in the most unique corners of the world, and the incredible friends I get to do it all with along the way. Shout out to all the people in the Kayaking community. You are all incredible and I don’t know what I would do without you! It also gives me an outlet to challenge myself on a daily basis whether that is running Ram, trying new lines on my home rivers, or working on cleaning up my lines on rapids I run every day.
Have you wanted to paddle Ram falls for a while, or have you just been progressing with waterfalls and this one happened to suit?
Yeah, I have actually known about Ram for about 5 years now. I first discovered it when I was 16 and I watched a video with Peter Thompson, Ryan Lucas and Dylan Thompson doing the first descent in 2012. It started out as just some pipe dream that I never really thought would happen but always worked towards. Over the years as I got better and better at paddling and kept pushing myself on harder and harder whitewater I reached a point where I began to actually consider making moves towards turning this dream into a reality.
It looks a bit boney for something that big, was this intentional or just how the levels worked out?
Oh yeah. When I was planning the mission out, I was aiming for a range of flows that I thought the waterfall would be runnable at because the odds of catching it at the same flow as the first descent were slim. They ran it when the river was in flood and it made for a ton of aeration at the bottom of the falls which is essentially what is going to soften your impact. When we arrived it was significantly lower than what we were hoping for but it looked like it was still within the range of what both Aniol and I thought was possible. I was definitely nervous because there haven’t been many people who have run waterfalls of this size with such a low volume of water and it made our margin for error much much smaller. The consequences were high if you were to mess up your line.
How many of your friends have compressed their spines? Is this something real on your mind, like “I could potentially suffer from back issues the rest of my life”, or is it an elusive danger that you keep at bay when running bigger drops?
Man, lots of my friends have actually suffered from various types of spinal fractures and I’m happy to say that the vast majority of them, if not all, have been able to make recoveries and get back on the water. I even broke 2 vertebrae in my back when I was 19 down in Mexico and that put me out for a few months. It was a big wake up call for me because I was being young and dumb and thought that my body was invincible. I came so close to ending my kayaking career right there and I never want to approach a waterfall with that little preparation again. I’m really happy to say that I’ve been able to keep my back really strong and have been able to paddle 10x as hard as I was when I broke it. In the end there is always risk associated with running big drops, but you have to learn to accept those risks before stepping up and be confident in yourself and your abilities. If I can’t envision myself having a clean line then I don’t have interest in running it.
Would you be psyched to go back and run it again?
Dude, oh yeah! I think I would want a bit more water going over the falls for round 2 but a few of my best friends want to come and hit it just as badly as I wanted to, but they weren’t able to run it with me that day. It’s not something I am going to go do for a fun little weekend road trip, but if the opportunity presents itself and I feel good about it, I’m sure I would go again.
Why is it so progressive for kayaking that a drop this big at lower flows was run?
It is certainly not the most impressive thing that has ever been done but given the crazy small amount of 100 footers that have been run, this was definitely on the lower end of the spectrum and is another piece to the knowledge puzzle of truly understanding what is within the realm of possibilities for kayaking. It is the direction that I currently see the sport moving in because more and more people are starting to go bigger with every passing season and this will hopefully help inspire other paddlers who have had a similar goal in mind to work hard for it and make it happen. Progression at its finest.
Given the progression this drop feels for you and the sport, what are your eyes open to today that you weren’t thinking as much about before Ram?
My hesitation towards the amount of water needed for drops this size has definitely lessened over the last week but at the same time I have no interest in playing with more fire than I can handle.. Complacency is something I try to avoid and I always remind myself of the injuries people have sustained pushing the very limits we are talking about in this interview. I am going to push myself steadily and make sure I have the same amount of preparation for any big waterfalls in the future as I did for Ram.
Thanks for letting us catch up with you Edward! Give a holler if your ever in Squamish so we can all go for a paddle.
Yeah man thank you for the great chat! Would love to go rip some of the local rivers with ya!
Paddler: Edward Muggridge, @shredwardd
Photographer: Lachie Carracher, @follow_the_river