Have tripod, will travel. That’s the basic gist of expedition kayaker Chris Korbulic’s new short film Altai: The Road and the River, a quirky take on a month-long paddling journey in the Altai Mountains of south-central Russia, which he calls, “more of a contemplative piece than a high action trip report or in support of a good cause other than adventure.” Traveling solo, Korbulic connected with a group of Austrians, as well as local guide Vasily Porsev, to knock off a slew of challenging rivers including the Bashkaus, Argut, Chulysman, Chuya, Kurekure and Chulcha.

“The rhythm of the trip and place was funky and weird and tense so I tried shooting to show that,” Korbulic says of his effort to show a different perspective on a paddling trip. “I actually didn’t get to shoot most of what I wanted because we were driving so much and paddling and never really slowing down, stuck on someone else’s program, which makes for a great paddling trip but tough to film something creative.”

Korbulic added his name to the Bashkaus’s Book of Legends, though he notes how the memorials showcased at the end of the edit provided a sobering reminder of Russian attitudes toward river exploration. “The mentality is definitely different,” he says, “more willing to take serious risks from the outset, follow the leader, and get tough from losing a little blood.”


— Follow the latest real-time coverage of Korbulic, Ben Stookesberry, and Pedro Oliva’s expedition in southwestern Brazil at #Kaiak2015 (and read the details about their last groundbreaking expedition #DestinationTorngat).

— Check out more Siberian paddling expeditions with C&K’s Altai Experience Digital Feature, as well as the photo gallery extension of the Dirtbag Diaries story from our March 2014 issue

— And read more about the legendary Bashkaus River, including Editor-at-Large Eugene Buchanan’s classic 1993 descent in homemade rafts and equipment.