Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Of all the paddlers in this series, none has a more singular or spectacular story than that of Dr Walt Blackadar, the gun-toting, vodka-drinking country doctor who started kayaking in his mid-40s and, through sheer bravery bordering on lunacy, tackled first descents the likes of which the world had never seen.
By Steffan Meyric Hughes

The 1960s was a transitional era for kayaking and kayaks. Manufacturing was changing from canvas to GRP, and the age of the 13ft (4m) slalom kayak was beginning. “Klepper, with Tony Prijon, was at the forefront of technology in Europe. In Britain Streamlyte was making some beautiful slalom kayaks with the KW 3 and 7 (all time classic)” recalls Graham Mackereth of Pyranha. In this era, slalom, particularly in Europe, reigned supreme. The sport that had started in the Alps in the 1930s and would first be held as an Olympic discipline for the first time in 1972, was the breeding ground for most of the great paddlers of the 1970s. But Blackadar’s initiation into paddling came in his mid-40s, as an extension of the hunting and fishing life he’d bought into with such enthusiasm after moving to Idaho.

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