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The Last River: the Tragic Race for Shangri-La

by Balf, Todd

  • ISBN: 9780375416262
  • ISBN10: 0375416269

The Last River: the Tragic Race for Shangri-La

by Balf, Todd

  • List Price: $25.95
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publish date: 12/01/2004
  • ISBN: 9780375416262
  • ISBN10: 0375416269
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Description: Is the Mount Everest of rivers, perhaps the world's last great unclaimed prize, impossible to run?

It was a challenge few world-class kayakers could resist. Tibet's Yarlung Tsangpo River, which runs through the impenetrable Tsangpo Gorge, remains one of the few uncharted, unconquered whitewater rivers in the world, one whose scale and natural beauty are epic -- some say the hidden valleys and waterfalls of the Yarlung Tsangpo are the Shangri-la of Tibetan legend. Plunging 10,000 vertical feet, the Yarlung Tsangpo runs beneath snowcapped Himalayan peaks, past verdant jungle and through the deadly Tsangpo Gorge, where the river narrows to a mere 60 feet of foam between sheer mossy walls that rise 2,000 feet on either side. The technical challenges are immense -- an expedition includes not only white-knuckle free-falls through waves sometimes as high as 25 feet, but miles of exhausting portage and trekking around the sections of impassable white water, as much a feat of mountaineering as kayaking.

In October 1998, a team of 4 expert kayakers, funded by the National Geographic Society, went after the ultimate prize in kayaking: to become the first team in history to successfully descend the Tsangpo Gorge -- a feat no less monumental than Sir Edmund Hillary's first ascent of Mt. Everest. But on October 16, the team leader, Doug Gordon, a member of the US Olympic whitewater team, attempted a dangerous -- but not impossible -- jump through the Tsangpo rapids. Although his jump was only slightly off, he was sucked into a whirlpool and swept into the river's main current, which was racing at a deadly 50,000 cubic feet per second. His body was never recovered. This is the story of how thatill-fated trip became a critical event in the increasingly competitive, some say suicidal, race to kayak through the Tsangpo Gorge. It is the true story of man's continuing quest to conquer one of the last wild places on earth -- a quest whose twists and turns give a whole new meaning to the term "extreme".

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