Amid the current political turmoil erupting across Tibet, last week the Rivers in Demand kayakers were denied access to the stretch of the Upper Salween River where they hoped to claim a first descend. And to their dismay, Tibetan checkpoint officials informed them that another, unknown expedition had put in on a first descent attempt of the river just days before. Frustrated and with their plans temporarily thwarted, the team, which includes Adam Elliot, Trip Jennings, Andy Maser, and Travis Winn, began to set their sights on new objectives.
The crew settled on an equally ambitious undertaking: the upper reaches of the massive Mekong River. While one Australian kayaker claims to have run this epic stretch of high altitude, Class V whitewater—alone, even—several years ago, documentation of his feat has yet to be found. Regardless, this remote and dangerous area of the world will be filmed for the first time.
Sporadic satellite phone reports from Jennings and the crew indicate that they are in awe of the level of paddling involved in this remote and largely unexplored corner of the planet. And despite a digestive incident or two from local yak butter tea, the descent appears to be going smoothly, given its intrinsically high level of hazard and commitment.
Winn, one of the project’s leaders and its sole Chinese speaker, attempted this stretch of the Mekong years ago with a rafting expedition led by his father. Their effort, however, came up short as a consensus was reached to pull out before the Upper Mekong’s most dangerous rapids. According to their last sat phone update, the Rivers in Demand kayakers had decided to charge these stretches of world-class whitewater. We’re anxiously awaiting developments. To track their progress yourself, and to learn more about the Rivers in Demand project, visit china.riversindemand.com.
- Nat Geo Expeditions