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Exclusive First Descent Gallery from Papua New Guinea’s Beriman Gorge
Posted on November 17, 2015

Ben Stookesberry tries to get a look into the first of 13 vertical walled gorges on the Beriman River. As it turned out, there was no way to scout or portage this section of river once at river level. P: Chris Korbulic

Ben Stookesbery and Chris Korbulic represent the essence of adventure. With more than 120 first descents in 36 countries, any reader who has followed their epic exploits on the Live Your Adventure blog will confirm that fact. Yet their most recent first descent of the Beriman Gorge in Papua New Guinea—a class VII river of no return run from a jungle heli drop to the Salomon Sea—is an order of magnitude greater than any objective they had ever tackled. The 13-day, 13-gorge first descent that could only be partially scouted by air placed them in harm’s way in the middle of one of the world’s most remote jungles. So it was  no big surprise to us that they were honored by National Geographic on Friday with the Adventurer of the Year award. We hear that ReelWater Productions and Red Bull Media House are currently shaping up this whitewater exploration saga for film and Red Bull chronicled their AOY expedition story yesterday on RedBull.com. But today, we’ve got an exclusive gallery if you want a reason to vote for them for the People’s Choice Award and a first look at what made the Beriman their crowning achievement . —LYA Editor

Chris Korbulic get's ready to haul Pedro Oliva into a last chance eddy above a nasty constriction in Gorge #12. P: Ben Marr

Images by Chris Korbulic, Pedro Oliva, Ben Marr and ReelWater Productions, Captions by Ben Stookesberry

A remarkable helicopter shuttle into one of the most remote and untouched places on earth. P: Chris Korbulic

 

Top Image: Ben Stookesberry tries to get a look into the first of 13 vertical walled gorges on the Beriman River. As it turned out, there was no way to scout or portage this section of river once at river level. P: Chris Korbulic

Second Image: Chris Korbulic get’s ready to haul Pedro Oliva into a last chance eddy above a nasty constriction in Gorge #12. P: Ben Marr

Above: A remarkable helicopter shuttle into one of the most remote and untouched places on earth. P: Chris Korbulic. L to R: 1. Ben Marr and Ben Stookesberry make sure the boats are firmly attached to the chopper. Losing a boat mid flight could have meant disaster. P: ReelWater. 2. Ben Marr and Ben Stookesberry rig the chopper for the four boat shuttle into one of the most remote canyon’s in the tropics. P: Chris Korbulic. 3. After the teams heli-scout of the river, they discuss the challenges and voice their concerns prior to committing. No one was comfortable with this descent until it was literally staring them in the face. P: ReelWater

Red sky at morning sailor take warning? There were very few reassuring signs in the days leading up to the teams descent. P: Chris Korbulic

 

Above: Red sky at morning sailor take warning? There were very few reassuring signs in the days leading up to the teams descent. P: Chris Korbulic

L to R: 1. An aerial view of Gorge #3 (right) and the entrance to Gorge #4 (left). Gorge 3 is a good example of places in the river where, even with a helicopter, the team was unable to see the river. P: Chris Korbulic. 2. Ben and Chris scouting Gorge #1. The point of no return. P: Ben Marr. 3. Chris Korbulic shoulders his boat between roped in sections of the portage around Gorge #6. P: Ben Marr

Ben Stookesberry, fully committed, in the heart of the Beriman Gorge. P: ReelWater

 

Above: Ben Stookesberry, fully committed, in the heart of the Beriman Gorge. P: ReelWater

L to R: 1. Ben (left), Pedro (right), and the team pause for a moment to regroup mid portage above an unimaginable gorge #6.  P: Ben Marr. 2. Ben Stookesberry hauling gear though a tributary falls on the portage at gorge # 7. P: Ben Marr. 3. Camp 5, boats below, home sweet home on the jungle wall. P: Ben Stookesberry

 

Chris Korbulic and Ben Stookesberry run together into a powerful sliding rapid in Gorge #12. P: ReelWater

 

Above: Chris Korbulic and Ben Stookesberry run together into a powerful sliding rapid in Gorge #12. P: ReelWater.

L to R: 1. Still 20 miles to the ocean the team sets camp on night 12 and prepares for what would be the final day of boating to the Solomon Sea. P: ReelWater. 2. Chris Korbulic is the ultimate cool customer stay calm and collected between vertical walls with no escape. P: ReelWater. 3. Chris Korbulic’s unfortunate feet. Twelve days in—trench foot, jungle rot—whatever you call it, it was brutal. P: ReelWater

The team stops to say hello to the first locals they encounter in the 13 day descent of the Beriman just 5 miles from the Solomon sea. P: ReelWater

 

Above: The team stops to say hello to the first locals they encounter in the 13 day descent of the Beriman just 5 miles from the Solomon sea. P: ReelWater

L to R: 1. A stunning sunset from the team’s pre-expedition base in Kimbe, West New Britain. P: ReelWater. 2. True adventure is making your own map. The route down the Beriman. P: Ben Marr. 3. Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic at baggage claim in Papua New Guinea. P: Ben Marr

Below: Timing is everything. Moment of expedition reflection at Jacquinot Bay international airport. P: Ben Marr

Timing is everything. Moment of expedition reflection at Jacquinot Bay international airport. P: Ben Marr

Vote Early and Often for Ben Stookeberry and Chris Korbulic for the Adventurers of the Year People’s Choice Award at Adventure.NationalGeographic.com

Author: - Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
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  1. Scott Wells

    You guys are crazy! Glad you survived.


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