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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A taste of Tibet's finest

October 6th, packing up camp beside the Druksum river we headed down the valley to a town called Bayi before climbing up again over a high pass at 4600m. The day was cloudy and this restricted our views out towards the mountains. Two towering peaks dominate the area overlooking the Yarlung Tsangpo river gorge and its great bend. Gyala Pelri 7294m and Namchi Barwa 7756m however remained hidden in the cloud as snow covered the truck and a chilling wind kicked up.

Photo - Waking up to this! Gyala Pelri as seen from our camp in the Tongjuk catchment.

The road dropped away significantly on the back side of the pass. The south fork of the Tongjuk river flowed roadside the entire length of the valley and our altimetres showed a 1000m drop in elevation. Its volume at around 25 cumecs is unlike most other Tibetean rivers. Us kiwi's being used to steep technical rivers agreed it looked good to go, it begged to be descended for the first time. Rain overnight kept its flow in a paddleable range the next day we worked away at its lower 10km and 300m drop in elevation, paddling continously for five draining hours.

Oct 8th - Tongjuk north fork, class 4-5.
Needing a more capable truck, one that could get us higher into the Tongjuk catchment we swung a deal with a local who worked in a nearby mill. With kayaks loaded we set off upriver through a couple of villages heavily involved in the milling of local pine trees.

At 3090m the put in was lower down than our previous runs. The rivers flow was around 150 cumecs creating massive features that we did our utmost to avoid. Rapids that attempted to suck you towards bus sized holes, waves that folded overhead, flying paddle blades driving our kayaks from one side of the river to the other was the style of the day.

The north fork of the
Tongjuk is a classic.

Photo - Typical Himalaya's, big rivers, big mountains, its a place that overwhelms you.
Dave Kwant gets set to ride it out.

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