Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.

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My 2014 calendar was entirely photographed on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps. "Land in the West" is printed at a size of A4 with twelve calendar month pages displaying stunning outdoor environment photographs. Take a look at my Facebook page to view all twelve 2014 calendar images! Order here via Paypal or email me at zakshawphotography@gmail.com if you would prefer to pay with online banking. Thanks for your support!
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mission shut down

After our successful firsts full descent of the Parlung Tsangpo we were keen to take some time out. More to the point we didn't have much choice after celebrations took their toll.

Looking over the maps, a couple of rest days gave us the oportunity to look more intensively at the remainder of our time in Tibet before crossing into the Sichuan province of China.

Traveling back through the headwaters of the Parlung catchment we crossed over into a neighbouring valley the Zang Chu. Early in our preparations in coming to Tibet this river had been highlighted as one which had potential.
A huge question mark however hung over its access. The Zang Chu drops out of Tibet and flows across the border into India. Within 40km of this border is basically a no go area, especially for westerners. Although we had tried via the permit system to gain permission to paddle the river, our requests came back unanswered.
So we headed in anyway in hope. As predicted police and military officials denied us further passage.

Classic Tibetan vehicle, its a three wheeler, small tractor type design.
Uses include getting the kids to school,
carrying building supplies, shifting livestock.

Gogul, as far as we got.

The past few days we have traveled over several mountain ranges and climbed out of deep river gorges. The Salween, Mekong and Yangtze rivers all orginate in Tibet, its is these massive waterways surounded by 5000m peaks that is responsible for Tibet remaining secluded for so long from the west.

High pass above the Mekong river.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Parlung Tsangpo relents, first full descent completed

Scrambling down a steep slip back to the river day 12 began. Its was to be our last on the Parlung Tsangpo

With ten kilometres of class 4 to the confluence with the Yiong Tsangpo we set off loaded with a few extra's!

Thirsty work! Cider was all we could find. Eden toasts to a great river trip.

After 12 days, 210km, 1400m drop in elevation, some good cider, we felt it was appropriate.

Magic, tibets scenery is some of the best you will see.

180km done, 30 to go

From our camp in an old quarry, we were well poised to launch and assault on the final 30km. 20km of this is committing whitewater and had not been paddled before.

Portage within the first kilometre, not a big deal, just get your boat on your shoulder and walk around it.

Sam Hughes aka Packman, feeling the effects day ten.

Sam enjoys one that just feels good to paddle, no stress.

Communicating via two way radio we progressed well. Despite the relentless nature of the river, we managed twenty kilometres in two days.
In the gorge we found a major surprise. Scouting in previous days had revealed open river bank alongside most of the full on rapids, rapids we believed would be mandatory portages. Early on day 11 we got out and scouted a class 5 rapid that flowed down into a canyon with vertical walls on its left side. Visually we had no information on the right.
Eden and jj probed first running the entry rapid well and catching an eddy river left. Climbing a sloping wall of rock they could see a uniform horizon line downstream and a huge river wide ledge hole stretching across most of the river.
Comitted to the left they were situated right above the huge recirculation with a must make ferry glide the width of the river in the gorge to avoid it.
Tension ran high as we communicated with some difficulty. JJ paddled first and almost got pinned, eden missed his line and ran the meat of the left line, held at the bottom of the 10ft ramp leading into the hole he was violently tossed about for a long time before being flushed out and rolling up. It was a close call.
The rest of the team having no positive beta cautiously paddled the drop and regathered within the safety of a downstream eddy.

Its all around me, Dave Kwant finding his way.

Time to step up.

Day nine we found ourselves walking back into the river via a steep side creek.
Late the previous day we had paddled 20km and found ourselves overlooking a 200m long class 5 rapid.
Feeling the effects of an intense day out we opted to leave the boats and return with fresh minds the next day.

Photo - Mid way through, over the mushroom.


Making it look good, Eden completes the entrance and gets ready to get hard right.

Back on the big river

Team effort, local kids helped us get out gear from camp to the waters edge for the start of day 8.

Sneak line, with good reason. Dave and Matt avoid a huge pourover.

Centre is not where you want to be.
JJ, gets it right.

We found the whitewater quite intimidating. Generally we found big clear lines, whilst the features were massive they were often avoidable. Eddying out high above the rapids we would ferry glide the rivers width to get set up in the right place before comitting. The force and speed of the water kept us on the edge of our seats, and made us work for every inch of downstream travel.

Full team scout, who's feeling brave?

Leaving Pomi

Heading out of town we settled into a few hours of flatwater linking the whitewater sections together. The suns baking rays made for a picture perfect day as we floated downstream on the current.

Hostel to the river, day 6

The people of Pomi were there to see us off.

Matt Tidy, enjoys the mountain views.

35km float.

Our camp on day seven.
One kilometre away the river thundered. From camp we sat listening to the roar of the whitewater and wondered what lay instore for us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Days 3-5 100km down 100 to go, Parlung Tsangpo

After three days we completed the upper 48km from lake to camp.

Day three - Into the "Pigs Trough" Im coming up!

Like a cork ejected from a bottle, Eden finds the light and more work to be done.

Day four we attempted to pick the pace up as very cold conditions kept us in the kayaks, we tried to minimise time standing still. Scouting out here takes time, because the rapids are generally long and complex, its can take a long time to piece them together.
We covered 30km in good time and found ourselves at 3pm descending into a huge gorge.
Clambering around high above river level we did our utmost to inspect available options to paddle the gorge and escape to the otherside.
Rigging and abseil line, eden dropped into the gorge further and climbed around to get a look at the rivers far left side. It was not to be, choked with boulders we deemed it unrunable and so began an arduous hike out.

What we could see, right side, water flowing under rocks, left side???

Dave shoulders his kayak up out of the gorge.

Day 5
Our backs were hurting, elbows ached, shoulders due for rest. Enthusiasm was not in its usual high frequencies. Carrying kayaks we found a track back into the river below the un-runnable section of the gorge and began our fifth day with the vision of traveling a further 30km downriver to a town called Pomi.

Dave learning his lesson the previous day makes sure his kayak carry system is definately part of his kit. Heading back in for more potential punishment, day 5.

Our expectations of when we should have flatwater was wrong again! To our delight around the first bend the river now big in volume dropped away. Huge features, read and run with great scenery. The Parlung Tsangpo continues to impress.

Breaking down the Parlung Tsangpo

Our base camp for the first three days.

Day two began with little time to warm up, two class four rapids kicked things off as we attempted to close the gap between ourselves and camp one.
With 40km of whitewater and 500m in elevation to drop the day was destined to be a long one. Planning on getting as far as possible we set off, views of "China's most beautiful glacier" could be seen from the river.

Entering the second gorge, jj on edge but upright

Contiuous class four+ moves was the trend for the day, indispersed with the occasional harder or more consequencial line.
Surrounded by huge mountains and steep granite rock faces (great climbing to be had here to) we managed to descend about 13km before the cold became to much and our muscles could take no more.

The team enjoys a welcome rest during a flat stretch.

A journey of their own

They have been going for two months and have 700 kilometres to go. Their travels towards Tibets holy city of Lhasa happens rain hail or shine.

Tibetean pilgrims prostrating, "chaktsel pa"

As we descend the Parlung valley we do so beside pilgrims making their way to Lhasa. Their path is via the road and ours the river, we have regular contact with familiar faces. Whilst the journey they are taking is of a more spritual/religious nature it surrounds ours with a very real and authentic vibe.

Photo - A man with plastic river thing.
Pilgrims getting distracted from the task at hand.

Ready to go, we almost recruited another paddler!

Big days, nourishing food a necessity. One square meal for the road.

Parlung Tsangpo

Put in elevation, 14354 ft

The full catchment of the Parlung Tsangpo has for the last five days been our focus. Whilst parts of this vast catchment have been paddled, it contains days and days of tasty big volume whitewater and as yet un-run sections. A gorge twenty five kilometres in length has seen no action and should we feel up to it we intend on making a descent this week. One added beauty that can be associated with the Parlung is in the fact thats its all roadside! This factor whilst removing the wilderness feel and most certainly the our level of committment to never seen before gorges does enable us to travel light, paddle with more manuverable kayaks which are not stern heavy, portaging is made easier and making lines and navigating downstream can be approached with a greater confidence.

Photo - Fresh snow on the hills and feeling short of breath, our journey began high at the rivers source. Begining with technical moves and a creeky like feel, the flow of the Parlung was low. We are here in the prime time of the year for this river, its levels look manageable.

First move of the day. Rocks like cheese graters, silty water camoflaged the submerged boulders.
JJ getting warmed up.


Last stroke right side but im going left. Clean drop day one, we predict it will take twelve days to complete our descent.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

First descent Jepu Chu

Photo - The Jepu catchment

The day was by far the coldest we have had, fresh snow settled all day and a chiling wind blew directly up the valley freezing our hands and faces.

One may question pushing higher to run low volume steep creeks when you in a country that possesses some of the biggest rivers in the world.
The team shared mixed reviews about the Jepu, and we had a good time observing these reactions! Taking the good with the bad, we paddled 10km, and portaged numerous out of control rock infested rapids that had the boys cursing as the boulders we climbed up and over were covered in a greasy film of silt and slime.

One clasice in the moment comment to come from the day was during a particularly manky stretch. Myself loving the adventure conveyed this to one of the team who quickly said, "if your loving paddling this piece of shit river mate, you should go take a look at the crap that's all over Scotland"

Right at home, Eden Sinclair.

Six hours at river level, scouting every 30m, Matt Tidy, always a watchful eye.

A long cold day out but warming up and happy to be off before dark.Dave loves his tea!

We pulled the kayaks off the water, got changed in front of fifty
curious locals and headed straight to the nearest shack for a
warm meal and celebratory beer.