By Todd Balf
The final River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la is a panoramic account of the ill-fated October 1998 excursion of an American whitewater kayaking staff 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, most sensible pals, and journey leaders, the Tsangpo experience used to be the fruits of a twenty-five-year quest for glory. but the team's incredible goals crumbled whilst their ace paddler was once swept over a thunderous eight-foot waterfall, by no means to be noticeable again.
Here is an interesting exploration of either the seething huge water and dangerous terrain of the mythical Shangri-la, and the lads 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 ancient river so distant that simply the main hardy and romantic souls try to free up its mysteries.
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Additional info for The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la
The place the speeding glacial meltwater pierced the most river, the water by no means obtained hotter than the excessive thirties. in all places else, even the place the gorge opened to permit a dose of light, the water used to be within the forties and occasional fifties. Even in a dry swimsuit, they’d continue to exist possibly fifteen mins within the frigid river. The remoteness of the gorge intended residing out of a ship for weeks at a time. It additionally intended the opportunity of having emergency aid used to be nil. advertisement helicopters didn’t fly there, humans didn’t dwell there. The portages they’d want to make to get round the unrunnable sections have been both daunting. They couldn’t purely delivery their hundreds of thousands of kilos of boats and kit throughout dozens of miles of pebbly river coastline. relatively, they can count on full-on bushwhacks of a number of thousand vertical ft out of the densely vegetated, rain-sodden, leech-infested gorge, onto a steep ridge, via high-alpine passes, then back off the river through cliff rappel. Even river-level portages have been fraught with chance. lots of the riverbed boulders, having just recently been deposited, have been at risk of rolling. Many have been the scale of urban constructions. Geologically, the complete river valley used to be phenomenally risky. virtually without delay underneath it, the Eurasian continental and Indian–Australian tectonic plates banged opposed to one another, within the comparable thrusting geological phenomenon that provides inches of northeasterly progress a yr to Everest. (The river predates the fifty-million-year-old Himalaya, the Tsangpo protecting its path through uninteresting an ever-deeper gorge because the mountains have been uplifted. ) In 1950 the largest earthquake on list used to be situated within the gorge’s midst, destroying the entire villages within the zone and sweeping many into the river. In next a long time smaller quakes and large slab landslides usually altered the riverside topography. Trails scratched into the terrain via neighborhood hunters repeatedly vanished in a season or . within the fall of 1997, Wick and Tom took the largest and best step both of them may possibly examine: They went to Tibet to determine the beast for themselves. in the intervening time Wick had accumulated each scrap of demanding details he might locate and had drawn up a initial blueprint, yet they either knew it used to be lunacy to aim whatever but. Wick, Tom, a Himalayan experience go back and forth operator named Jon Meisler, and Harry Wetherbee and his spouse, Doris, took what they known as a random sampling in the gorge’s center, beginning on the Tsangpo/Po Tsangpo confluence and fanning out in events upstream and downstream. Tom and Wick’s machete-wielding cost introduced them to Chu Belap, a fearsome spot within the river the place the twisting whitewater dropped precipitously out of view, vanishing at the back of pinched canyon partitions. From their then-current map, Tom and Wick had expected the lethal drop; in truth, that used to be why they walked to the place they did, hopeful that they can find the massive drop, then march upstream to determine what will be boated, if whatever. What Tom surveyed over the subsequent 4 or 5 upstream miles grew to become out to be a trip-making sight; opposite to common trust, a protracted stretch in the unexplored center of the gorge looked to be boatable.