Pretty impressive... I'm always amazed at those feats that seem impossible to the average guy (or gal) but are de facto for those with the right combo of experience, skills and equipment. With that said,I happen to have full bags for my whitewater solo boat, but certainly lack the other two requirements for amazing feats!! The protection from swamping is a game changer, though, and the definitions of "open" become a bit murky.
What gets me about all this is when the guy does buy the farm, all his buddy's will go on and on about what a loss and such a fine young fella taken too soon. I lump this in along with that Crocodile Hunter guy. What the heck did anyone expect?
Now, if anybody cares about these kind of folks: Catch 'em with a butterfly net and deliver them to some mental health repair center. This death wish/attention getting/adrenalin junky stuff is just such crap. Go to a VA rehabilitation center and watch the vets trying to put what remains of their lives back into some kind of workable order. There is somebody to watch, someone to cheer on, an example to emulate. And these stunt guy's think their doing something? Ha!
I do not know Brad McMillan who is shown running this 70 footer in the video. I do happen to know Jim Coffey who he refers to having run a 60 foot waterfall (Truchas Falls on the Alseseca River in Mexico). Jim is about the farthest thing from a daredevil thrill-seeker as I can imagine. He is married and has a small child. He is one of the most safety conscious whitewater paddling guides and instructors I know and one of the best swiftwater rescue instructors as well. I have been told that he had examined Truchas Falls for a year or more, examining the approach and landing at various water levels, and did not attempt it until he was convinced he could do so with reasonable safety.
Obviously, there are risks associated with this type of paddling as there are for all who attempt Class V, or even easier whitewater. But I expect that most of the individuals who run this type of drop successfully are not doing it on an impulse.
I think the premeditated running of waterfalls is far less of a risk than historical canoe tripping in the arctic, especially in times before satellite communication. I've heard of waterfall jumpers breaking a leg or getting injured, but I don't think I've heard of a death. Many, many canoeists have died on arctic wilderness trips over the years.
Waterfall jumpers are usually highly expert whitewater paddlers and safety experts. They probe the plunge pool carefully for depth and obstructions, sometimes scuba diving it. They have safety and rescue boaters in the pool. Probably the greatest risk is going unconscious on impact, which is one reason for safety boaters. Thousands of incompetent paddlers have gone on wilderness canoe trips.
Running falls is just another aspect of paddling sport, and it's a maturing niche. It's interesting that open canoeists are now running higher drops than the kayakers were not too long ago.