Outside Television Interview with Scott Lindgren

October, 2001

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Scott Lindgren: One of the things that we really wanted to express now that we are doing this with Outside Television and Outside Magazine and GM, is that the story will be told as it is.

Granted, there are certain risks involved. But all of the people on this expedition are the most talented people on the planet for this expedition. Everybody has a very clear understanding of the magnitude of the trip. It's not anything that we haven't been doing for the last ten years.

I started rafting when I was 15 years old, started kayaking when I was 17. I have pretty much dedicated my entire life to kayaking. It is very much second nature. I have a pretty decent track record for going and pulling off some of the toughest river trips in the world. And the people that are involved with this thing are of the same caliber, if not better in a lot of ways. Everybody's kind of got their own specialty.

It's an international group. I think that's one of the coolest parts about this trip. We have New Zealand, China, Canada, South Africa, the UK, Nepal and the US. So there's seven countries being represented on this expedition. And many of them, in one form or another, are my best friends or I have traveled extensively or I have worked extensively with them.

There are a lot of strong personalities on this trip, but everybody has the ability to compromise, and everybody's looking at this as a team effort. It's not one person or another person. I'll be sharing a lot of the responsibilities of leading the trip with Mike Abbott, who, is an incredibly hard guy to run down. He's got an incredible amount of integrity and is incredibly strong, and one of the most laid-back guys you'll ever meet. If you've ever traveled with people, you have to have low-key, mellow people. Otherwise, if you have a bunch of agro, amped-up people, it just turns into a fiasco.

Outside: You talked about what kind of story this could be, and a desire to make sure that the story that's told is what it is. But what kind of story do you think this makes?

SL: Well, endurance-wise, it's going to be an incredibly difficult trip. I think from a mythical point of view, it is one of the most, in my opinion, sacred places on the planet. From a river journey, it is one of the more formidable challenges.

The Tsangpo goes through what I would like to think is one of the more impenetrable gorges in the world. It's the deepest gorge in the world, splitting in between two massive peaks. On river right is Namcha Barwa. It's about 25,000 feet. On the left, Gyala Pelri, which is about 23,000 feet.

If you can imagine a place where you have a river that parallels the Himalayas for 500 miles and basically drains the whole northern side of the Himalayas—then runs in between these two peaks and then makes a right-hand turn and goes right through the Himalayas. Most of the river sits at about 13,000 feet, the highest major river in the world ... it collects water for 500 miles before it decides to drop off the Tibetan Plateau.

There is a place in western Nepal, Mount Kailas. It's the center of the universe for both Buddhist and Hindu. It's a very sacred place. It's a peak that stands alone. It's a 25,500-foot peak. This is where the Tsangpo begins, a stream in a glacier.

We did a drive from Katmandu to Mount Kailas in 1999 for our first Outside Television film, "Liquid Off The Throne of Shiva," on OLN. We drove almost 500 miles, 350 being along the Tsangpo, all the way to Mount Kailas. And that was a personal dream of mine, just to see what the upper stretches of the Tsangpo looked like. And being able to circumnavigate Mount Kailas, which was another personal aspiration of mine, and to see how and where, and understand where all these rivers came from, put in that much more perspective for me the magnitude of the place—because the magnitude is beyond any other river system in the world, I think.

Sure, there's the Amazon, sure there's the Congo, sure there's the Nile, but in one single place, off of one single peak, you have four of the most powerful rivers and the biggest mountains in the world.

The Tsangpo Gorge is probably one of the more committing places in the world, even for a person who treks in there. The river right side has only been trekked by a handful of people. There are certain spots within the gorge that are completely impenetrable. You can't reach a lot of the places. And that will be the crux for us.

And it goes from—we start out in arid desert, we kind of drop into semi pine forest, and a temperate rain forest, right down into the jungle with Bengal tigers and monkeys and the whole nine yards. So the diversity of the place is insane.

I feel really lucky to be involved. You guys are making this happen for me, and for Charlie (Munsey) and everyone else. It is a ten-year dream of mine come true. This is not just my dream. It's Mikey and Allan (Ellard)'s dream. They've grown up in the Himalayas. It's Charlie's dream. And the other guys are my best friends. So there are a lot of people that have been thinking and dreaming of this place forever.

Copyright © 2002 by Outside Television, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Filed To: Nature / China / Tibet / Snow Sports
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