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Originally published Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 3:22 PM

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Kayaker takes plunge over 180-foot Palouse Falls

Daredevil kayaker plunges down the 180-foot-tall Palouse Falls in Southeastern Washington, setting unofficial world record

Tri-City Herald

It took Tyler Bradt four trips to Palouse Falls before he did it. He first laid eyes on the Southeastern Washington waterfall in March while on a trip from his home state of Montana.

"We just heard about it by word of mouth," Bradt said. "People just said, 'You should check out this waterfall in Eastern Washington.' "

His first impression? "It looks pretty runnable."

So, last Tuesday, he went over Palouse Falls, all 180-plus feet of it. In a kayak.

Though Bradt hasn't released any photos of his feat, he says the vertical decent down the face of the falls was filmed by his production company, Revolutionary Innovations, for the upcoming film Dream Result.

The feat also set an unofficial world record.

The 22-year-old set a previous record in 2007 when he kayaked off 107-foot Alexandra Falls along the Hay River in Canada's Northwest Territories.

That record was "marginally broken," Bradt said, by a Brazilian who ran a 127-foot waterfall last month. However, Bradt debated the Brazilian's record-breaking plummet because he landed on his head instead of in a clean, kayak-nose-first position.

Bradt said his media agent is working on a deal to first release the photos to a national magazine. He expects that will come in the next couple of weeks.

Bradt, who sounds more like a surfer from Los Angeles than a kayaker from Western Montana, emphasized that he doesn't rush waterfalls for world records. He does it to show what humans are capable of accomplishing.

"This is something we've been working up to for a while," he said. "We were really making calculated decisions. ... It's really a wild thing, trying to explain it to non-kayakers."

After plunging underwater about 20 feet and being submerged for about seven seconds, Bradt surfaced from Palouse Fall's deep pool with little more than a sprained wrist and windless lungs.

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"I actually expected more of an impact," he said. "... Considering the waterfall, the injuries were pretty minor."

Back in Montana, local kayaker and business owner Land Heflin, who described Bradt as a "young, local legend," was flabbergasted.

"I can't believe he ran that," said Heflin, co-owner of Tarkio Kayak Adventures in Missoula. "That's impressive if he did that. It's hard to believe he did that. ... If he really ran a 186-footer, and did not hurt himself, that's incredible."

"Incredible" seems to be a fitting description for Bradt. When he's not rushing massive waterfalls, he's going to equally prodigious extremes to prove just how far initiative and determination can take people.

Several years ago, he and a friend drove from Alaska to Chile in a vegetable oil-powered firetruck. The journey was captured in Oil + Water, an award-winning documentary.

In 2008, he flew to Africa, bought a four-wheel-drive van in Uganda and traversed the southeastern portion of the continent by vehicle and kayak, bringing attention to poverty, deforestation and the widespread use of unsafe drinking water.

"We're doing crazy things kayaking, but we're doing some cool things off the water too," he said.

Bradt's African adventure will be featured in Revolutionary Innovation's first film, The African Revolutions Tour. Proceeds will go to the Sun Catchers Project, a nonprofit effort to supply solar cooking ovens to developing nations. The film should be released this summer.

Next up, Bradt's planning trips to Norway in May and Iceland in June. "Iceland has one of the highest concentrations of waterfalls on the planet," he said.

Along the way, he and co-producer Rush Sturges will continue filming Dream Result, he said, which should be released in the spring 2010.

For more information on Bradt and his films, go to www.rev-inn.com.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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