The first descent of the last unrun section of the Salween River is being attempted. This descent completes 22 years of exploration of the main stems of the three Parallel Rivers pouring off the Tibetan Plateau. It is a 150 mile section flanked by 22,000 foot peaks and class V white water.
Background: In March 2008, the Epicocity Project will attempt China’s Upper Salween. They chose to paddle in the tail end of the Himalayan winter when the water level is low enough to allow for a level of reasonable safety. Paddling hard will be the only way for them to stay warm.
Rivers in Demand will raise awareness to the value of free flowing rivers by kayaking two distinct sections of China’s longest undammed river.
The expedition begins at 11,000 feet in Tibet’s remote Mari Township. The upper Salween careens down a high altitude desert renowned wildlife biologist George Schaller has described as one of two remaining ‘unexplored’ regions on the planet. Below this, the Salween froths and rolls into some of the world’s most biologically diverse temperate forests and into consideration for a thirteen dam cascade with in the boundaries of a designated world heritage site and proposed National Park. This section of whitewater is the scene for the third phase of the expedition.
Sandwiched between the two Salween descents, the EP crew will be helping Last Descents River Expeditions to document what may well be the last descent of the Great Bend of the Yangtze River.
The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world.
China began the first hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River in 1970 and, in an effort to provide clean energy to a ballooning economy and population, began construction of the Three Gorges Dam in 1994. One side effect of the reservoirs created by these hydroelectric projects is the loss of pristine sections of river like the Great Bend.
Our trip down the Great Bend will likely be the last descent of China’s best known premier rafting river. This multicultural expedition will include Chinese conservationists, river enthusiasts, and media that will help share the majestic beauty of this river with China in a way that reveals the value of preservation for the enjoyment of domestic and international tourists.
Phase three grounds the raw beauty of the upper section in the development challenges faced by Chinese leadership in the middle reaches of the Salween.
Last Descents River Expeditions will bring Lan Hui Ming, the local tourism bureau director responsible for overseeing the newly created Bing Zhong Luo National Park, on a rafting trip to discuss his hopes for eco-tourism on the Salween.
FROM THEIR BLOG
EP Crew laid over in Hong Kong
After twenty-eight hours traveling, we made it to the Hong Kong airport.
So far, our experiences here have taught us the following about China:
1. We don’t speak Chinese
2. This makes ordering food difficult
We’ve got one more flight to catch until Travis picks us up at the airport in Kunming. He’s been in the country for almost two weeks now, dialing in the rest of the logistics for the upcoming expeditions. Unlike us, Travis speaks Chinese. We’re thankful for this.
Trip, Andy and I are all feeling a little jet lagged but are stoked to be here through feeling a bit anxious about seeing if our gear made it to Kunming. The night before we left we found out Harlan, the sixth member of the expedition, was unable to get his kayak on the plane. He’s scrambling to figure out what he’s going to do and we hope he’ll be able to meet us in a couple of days. We’ll keep you updated.
Read more of their blog www.china.riversindemand.com