The ingenuity, endeavor and curiosity that fueled their first restoration project led to a lifetime of adventure for the two brothers, who became successful businessmen and expert boatmen.
Darrell Bentz became a pioneer in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s jet boat manufacturing industry. He founded Bentz Boats and sold custom-made jet boats around the globe. Rusty Bentz founded a fence-building company and became a skilled backcountry pilot. Both would explore some of the world’s most remote and rough whitewater rivers. Their travels took them to India, Guyana, Canada, Alaska and the Arctic Circle – where they made first ascents of some of the biggest rapids on the planet – and to the canyons and mountains of Idaho where they hunted, fished and ran outfitting businesses.
Richard Ripley of Spokane, a retired newspaper reporter and author of “The Ridgerunner,” tells their story in the recently published book “Against the Torrents: Adventures from the Idaho Whitewater Life.” He traces their lives from their childhoods growing up on a White Bird ranch through their business and family lives in adulthood. But adventure, especially of the whitewater variety, courses through the pages as the brothers explore rivers like the Ganges in India, the Essequibo in South America and the Skeena in Canada, often with Bentz Boat customers.
Although they conquered frightening rapids few had ever attempted, Ripley, who accompanied them on a 2013 trip and wrote about it for the Tribune, said it was done not with bravado but instead a down-to-Earth drive and desire to explore.
“The way they look at things, it’s not daredevil ‘look at me.’ It’s ‘how can we do it safely.’ It’s very sober and careful. They are not out there to beat their chests, they are out there to accomplish something.”
Readers from the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley will recognize many of the people and places in the book. A few of the adventure stories will be familiar to Tribune readers as they were told by Outdoors columnist Lenny Frasure. But Ripley offers new details and stories in the book that jet boat enthusiasts will especially enjoy.
The book is available at And Books Too in Clarkston or backeddybooks.com.
Author Richard Ripley author of “Against the Torrents: Adventures from the Idaho Whitewater Life” about Rusty and Darrell Bentz, will sign copies of the book from 2-4 p.m. April 9 at And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston.