Tsangpo Dispatch—March 2, 2002

In his element: expedition leader Scott Lingdren in action on the Tsangpo     Photo: Steve Fisher

Scott Lingdren, Tsangpo River

In his element: expedition leader Scott Lingdren in action on the Tsangpo

Apex of the Tsangpo Gorge We have just finished a two-day paddle down the Po Tsangpo to the confluence and around to the northernmost point of the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, the apex of the Tsangpo Gorge.

After much discussion we've decided to finish our river journey here. We will now hike back to Tsachu and then continue the trek up the Po Tsangpo to Pelung and rendezvous with our transport team to drive to Lhasa.

The Po Tsangpo was amazing—continuous whitewater all the way to the confluence. Again, this section has been stripped of its original features by a massive glacial lake flood. Its polished banks are strewn with debris from landslides and flood deposits. Compared to the Tsangpo it was refreshing and relatively small—although still around 5-6000 cfs. We felt strong as we could cross the river easily and read and run most rapids knowing we could move around or make it to the bank without too much trouble.

At the confluence we found the most amazing river camp of the entire trip right on the finger of land that divides the Yarlung and Po Tsangpo. Vertical walls of bedrock containing flats of pristine white sand. Our evening there was long and spiritual, looking back at the days in the gorge before and realizing the power of the environment we were in. Everyone contemplated the achievement and the meaning of our journey thus far; our discussions went on late into the night, warmed by a comforting fire.

On our last day of paddling on the Tsangpo the morning presented the confluence rapids, which have also been completely blown away. Once in the full flow of both rivers we were reminded how small we really are and just how powerful the Tsangpo is.

The rapids on this section were not as technical as the upper gorge as the midstream features have been flushed away, but the waves and holes were incredibly powerful, towering above us and tossing us around at their will. Again it was difficult to move around and even the easiest rapids needed to be bank-scouted to avoid being washed into a gigantic hole or crease.

We paddled past the cable we had crossed a few days ago and headed for the apex, the walls were closing in and Mount Abu Lashu towered on the right bank.

We paddled into an eddy on the left bank where our porters awaited excitedly. We are standing at the northernmost point of the Great Bend, the apex of the Tsangpo Gorge. Mighty Mount Abu Lashu stands to the south and a seemingly impassible river gorge flows downstream.

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