Watch fearless kayakers take some breathtaking plunges over the Columbia River Gorge’s most spectacular waterfalls

Hallelujah kayaking movie
(Image credit: Seth Ezekiel West / YouTube)

Cinematographer Seth Ezekiel West has been bringing some sick skate-style filmmaking techniques to extreme kayaking for a while now, but his newly-released 15-minute short on YouTube, 'Hallelujah', has to be his magnum opus. 

It captures the joy and rush and excitement of top level kayaking with such a joy and passion that it makes you immediately want to rush out and fling yourself over a 50-foot waterfall in a small plastic torpedo yourself (except you suspect you’d probably bottle it).

Hallelujah showcases a range of the amazing rapids, waterfalls, along the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Gorge as well as the kayakers who dare to paddle them.

Highlights include the Bridal Veil Falls, Punchbowl Falls, Money Drop and Outlet Falls. None of them are for the faint-hearted. 

There’s also a section shot at the controversial Celestial Falls, which it is technically illegal for kayakers to negotiate for safety reasons, though which – as the film explains in its end credits in a call to legalize the falls – many kayakers continue to use, and which has become part of popular culture.

“In most action or extreme sports there’s a defined idea of what a film looks like. If you mention a term like ‘skate video’, a certain style of shooting and editing pops into your head, and I’ve always felt like whitewater kayaking is missing that,” says West. 

“With a new generation of paddlers taking the reins I think it’s time for a new definition of how a kayaking edit should feel. Hallelujah is my contribution to the community with some ideas of what I think that style could look like. As we progress more and more into downriver freestyle, it feels like a bit of skate culture is intermingled with kayaking, while there’s still that need for crisp slow motion shots that embrace the essence of sending a big waterfall.

“I’m hoping this edit reopens the conversation on what a whitewater kayaking video should look like in the 2020s, and inspires the next generation to define the new style of the sport.”