In this shot, Red Bull athlete Rafa Ortiz nabs the first descent of the 132.5-foot-tall Big Banana Falls in the State of Veracruz, Mexico. This is the second largest waterfall ever successfully run.
We found Big Banana Falls during the first complete descent of the Rio Alseseca in Veracruz, Mexico in the autumn of 2006. Looking over the lip of the waterfall, it was massive and came shooting out of a deep and scary slot canyon. That day in 2006, Rafa thought the waterfall was good to go with the right levels. So, for the next four years we made trips to Big Banana falls waiting patiently for the perfect water conditions.
Finally on that morning of October 28, 2010, the levels were perfect. Hiking in, we battled some rain and the light was fading in and out, making for really tough shooting conditions. I remember seeing Rafa rappel into the pool above the waterfall with his boat and then I knew it was really on.
It was over in what seemed like a split second and Rafa popped up to the left of the falls in his boat with blood running from his eye, fists pumping.
Rafa was only visible for three frames before he was engulfed in water (I was shooting at 9 fps). We were all so happy and relieved that we went directly to get Rafa's eye stitched and for a tacos and tequila celebration (many tacos and tequilas!). I still think back about how easily I could have missed the shot. He was only visible for the blink of an eye!