In their first public appearance since a crocodile killed their guide while kayaking on the Congo, Mount Shasta’s Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic of Rogue River, Ore. will talk about their experience at a presentation in Medford on Thursday.

Stookesberry said the talk, which has been titled First Descent in the Congo, “will relate the story of our growth into expedition kayaking from the State of Jefferson to our recent expedition to the Congo river in Africa,” during an interview Monday afternoon.

On Dec. 7, 2010, Stookesberry, Korbulic and their world-renowned guide, Hendri Coetzee of South Africa, had just successfully kayaked a portion of the Congo – the Lukuga – that had previously been deemed unnavigable when tragedy struck.

A “monstrous” crocodile leapt from the water, seized Coetzee and left Stookesberry and Korbulic no choice but to paddle for shore to safety.

“We will speak to the events both leading up to and during that horrific day including how we are dealing with the inherent risk and danger of the rivers and expeditions that lie in the months and years ahead,” Stookesberry said.

The men will also talk about hostile military encounters during their first-of-its-kind journey through the Congo.

Stookesberry described the 120 mile stretch of the Lukuga as being surrounded by “thick jungle with intermittent villages” and studded with rocky, steep gorges and waterfalls.

Though the popular media often depicts the Congo as a very dangerous place, Stookesberry said from what he experienced, the people themselves are “amazing, caring and giving... the most wonderful people I’ve met.”

Stookesberry, now 32, was named National Geographic Adventure Hero of the Year in 2007. He was the first kayaker to descend more than sections of rivers in 13 countries and has produced eight feature-length kayak movies through his production company, Clear H2O Films.

Korbulic, age 24, is considered one of the most accomplished expedition kayakers in the world, according to a press release about the event. “With a life on the river and camera in hand, he has a unique ability to capture stunning whitewater images.”

The presentation, sponsored by the Southern Oregon Arts and Lecture Series and the Jackson County Library Foundation, will take place Thursday, April 21 at the North Medford High School Auditorium at 1900 N. Keene Way Drive in Medford, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20, or $10 for students with a valid school ID. They are available locally at The Fifth Season in Mount Shasta.
For more information, go to www.jclf.org or call (541) 774-6572.