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Doug Ammons Presentation - 13/03/2009

For anyone interested in gaining an insight into the psychological navigation of risk within adventure sports, this multi-media presentation from white-water paddler, Doug Ammons, is a must-not-miss evening at Plas y Brenin on Friday March 13th. Here's what he has to say about his UK tour:

"The UK shows will focus on the beauty and intensity of whitewater kayaking, travelling through a number of astonishing river landscapes around the world. In particular, we’ll head into the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River. The Stikine is one of the most difficult rivers ever done, hidden away in a deep canyon in the wilderness of northern Canada. The river casts an ominous shadow over anybody who decides to take it on. The instant you enter the canyon the rawness of the place shakes your core, shouting violence and danger. In an era where there are many professional, full time kayakers looking to make their mark, where skills and gear are astronomically advanced, this river stills kicks people’s asses. In 2006, of the four attempts by top teams, only one group made the descent."

"The show talks about the unique lessons from rivers, and of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine as an exemplar of the edge. At the end of the show, I will talk a bit about one descent that means a great deal to me. In 1992, without telling anybody where what I was doing, I drove the 1700 miles north into Canada and soloed the Stikine. It has taken 16 years for me to decide to talk about my experience on that run, and I’ve never said anything publicly. It’s always dubious to compare across sports, but my good friend and partner Gerry Moffatt calls this solo “the equivalent of Reinhold Messner’s solo of Everest” and another partner, expedition paddler Charlie Munsey calls it, “one of the greatest feats in the history of kayaking”. I am not interested in the feat, but in where the journey takes us. Feats are in the past, but our real journey is always unfolding."

"Rivers create some of the most beautiful and improbable landscapes on earth. Like many other people, I’ve been inspired by them for my entire life, and kayaking was just another vehicle for exploring them more intimately. I love the challenge, difficulty, and intensity of hard whitewater, but I also love the quiet serenity and flow of rivers."

"Sometimes the intense experiences, the beautiful places, the strong friendships seem to be the only answer we need. But as wonderful as rivers are, they are only a small part of a much bigger life. I’ve been married 25 years, have five children, a Ph.D., and a job running a business serving thousands of people. I believe in journeys that lead beyond the river. I live for my children – along with the rest of my family and the other people I love. Rivers have a sacred place, but never make the mistake of thinking that a sport is more important than the deeper responsibilities you have."

All Doug's proceeds from book sales, slide shows, and writing for magazines over the past 15 years, have gone to supporting a small school in the poorest part of Nepal (www.friendsofdolpa.org). Doug explains: "The kids have come from villages a few miles from the Tibetan border, 10 to 14,000 feet, without medical care, electricity, phone, roads, and a two week hike to the nearest 'civilization'. It’s a medieval society of subsistence farming and herding, but they are smart and incredibly hard working, and with help they are bootstrapping themselves into the 21st Century. All they need is a little opportunity."

More details of Doug's UK lecture tour at davemanby.com

Photo: Doug Ammons paddling into the top part of a rapid called 'The Wall', about halfway down the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River, in northern British Columbia. This is one of the all-time greatest whitewater runs in the world. Credit: Charlie Munsey

Location: Plas y Brenin, Capel Curig, 8.00 pm, £5 (£2.50 students).

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