Tsangpo Dispatch—February 11, 2002

Allan Ellard

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Kintup Falls, Tsangpo Gorge—We have just completed the Pemakochung bend and made it past Kintup Falls—this was a long day of portages and discovery. It was also the first day on our satellite photo, which was very exciting as we can now see every rapid as we come to it. We have also found that we cannot tell the gradient of the rapids easily. Many of the rapids in the bend were impassable ledge-type drops of ten to 15 feet. Fortunately, the river is so low that there is plenty of bank on both sides and we have been able to portage quite easily.

The major highlight of this section was coming round the corner above Kintup falls. We were worried that we would be walled out and not able to pass this section. As the falls came into sight it was obvious that the left bank was offering plenty of room to move past and life would be quite easy. The falls were supposedly 30 feet in height, but standing right next to them we estimated they were more like 15 to 20 feet max. After a discussion with Ken Storm, it has been decided that there must have been some huge geological changes in the past years as the old photos of Kintup show it as a far higher and narrower drop. We were privileged to stand on the right bank to scout out the rapids, where we found huge cat prints, takin trails, and flowering Rhododendrons. We then crossed the river to pass the falls and stood where no Westerner has ever stood. Dustin Knapp ran the left line of Kintup Falls as he was so tired of hauling his boat over the rocks.

We are now having a rest day and contemplating the next leg, around the Condrasum La bend. This will put us right above a gully we expect to be a full day’s portage as the river heads northeast for a mile or so.

On the trail things have heated up. The trail is now passing ridges that are covered with snow. The porters are in for the duration as it is now easier to finish the trip than it is to go home. Their loads have now lightened and they are pretty happy. The Nepali Sherpas are the stars, though, cutting the trail better than even the locals, their instincts leading the way. Then when they find camp, food is quickly prepared in great quantity, keeping everyone topped up on energy. We still have fresh food and we have for quite a while. The dehydrated food is actually pretty good and we are mixing it up to spread the fresh food out.

Overall the trip is going amazingly well, there have been no epics as yet, on trail or river, we have paddled a lot of river and even ran center lines on many rapids. Things are looking good and we look forward to reporting on reaching Clear Creek and Rainbow Falls in about five days.