The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la

By Todd Balf

The final River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la is a panoramic account of the ill-fated October 1998 day trip of an American whitewater kayaking crew who traveled deep into the Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet to run the Yarlung Tsangpo, recognized in paddling circles because the "Everest of rivers." For Wick Walker and Tom McEwan, severe whitewater pioneers, top acquaintances, and journey leaders, the Tsangpo experience used to be the fruits of a twenty-five-year quest for glory. but the team's superb desires crumbled while their ace paddler used to be swept over a thunderous eight-foot waterfall, by no means to be visible again.

Here is an interesting exploration of either the seething huge water and dangerous terrain of the mythical Shangri-la, and the boys who dared problem the livid rapids that raced via this 140-mile-long canyon. The final River invitations us to view the Himalayas from a wholly new point of view -- on a historical river so distant that basically the main hardy and romantic souls try and liberate its mysteries.

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The Tsangpo got here up in dialog at any place river runners hobnobbed, from motor vehicle shuttles to campsites. in the meantime, the hiking expeditions fixed. Fisher again a number of instances, as did a former tripmate of his, an American named Ian Baker. Baker, informed in Tibetan experiences, was once a part of Fisher’s spring 1993 staff, even though he’d peeled off with 3 others and driven remarkably just about Rainbow Falls, the terminus of Kingdon-Ward’s try. additionally, the chinese language dispatched a number of groups of botanists, geologists, and natural world specialists to survey the gorge. truly the handfuls of expeditions have been chipping away on the edges, yet no one had improved at or close to river point into what Breashears aptly referred to as the “gorgiest a part of the gorge”—the unseen position the place the waterfall may lie. regardless of the japanese tragedy and Fisher’s pronouncement, a number of fashionable boaters all started heavily making plans for the gorge in 1997. there has been a global staff led by way of Doug Ammons (a Montanan with tremendous big-water event) and Lukas Blücher of Germany’s Alpine Kayak membership, the best-known severe boating membership on the earth. the rich Blücher’s career of past due used to be to go back and forth the globe paddling five-star barren region rivers. Ammons, a Ph. D. in psychology who used to be the single individual ever to solo British Columbia’s Grand Canyon of the Stikine (the closest factor to the Tsangpo in North America), have been quietly accumulating information at the Tsangpo for fifteen years. Steve Currey, the economic rafting first-descent professional out of Salt Lake urban who’d run a stretch of the Brahmaputra in India, was once ads a once-in-a-lifetime journey to consumers. additionally organizing a run used to be Scott Lindgren, a tender hotshot from Northern California, who made and starred in slick, action-laced, severe whitewater movies. Lindgren referred to as the schizo waters of the Tsangpo the “most strong shit on the earth. ” Many thought of Lindgren and his videographer better half, Charlie Munsey, the prototype Tsangpo boaters: younger, fearless, and completely keen to “hang it in the market. ” in contrast to the early nineties, whilst the consensus was once that the Tsangpo was once unrunnable, increasingly more boaters looked as if it would view the river “within the world of craziness,” as one boater placed it. no matter if the sophisticated shift coincided with the sport’s rebellious no-limits ethos, advances in boat fabrics and layout, or just needed to do with deflated let charges and prepared sponsor and media curiosity, is difficult to assert. regardless of the case, the Tsangpo was once unexpectedly the focal point of fairly common curiosity. world wide, simply a half-dozen expeditions have been in a few phases of making plans. At an incredible outdoors trade extravaganza within the usa, a minimum of 4 events have been purchasing proposals, hoping to get sponsors to chew. in lots of situations the alliances weren’t set, every one paddler jockeying for the absolute best deal, each one attempting to work out who used to be going while and with whom. The really well-publicized Fisher/Brea-shears rift—and their incomplete yet tantalizing reports—had sparked sponsor and boater curiosity alike.

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