Video: Russian team’s insane first descent in Xinjiang, China

Russian rafters explore inescapable canyon on the Cherchen River in Western China's Xinjiang Province

Never underestimate the Russians when it comes to whitewater exploration. They may not always have the fanciest boats (often homemade) or the newest gear (handed down from the ’70s), but they are tougher than nails and are always willing to “send it.”

Back in 2012, this team of cataraft paddlers took a trip to Xinjiang, the farthest Northwest province of China. This video of their trip down the Cherchen River gorge in the Kunlun Mountains is a nail-biter. The loose conglomerate walls of the narrow canyon are a geological nightmare. Their run is full of blind turns and, at times, is only inches wider than the raft itself (jump to 1:14). So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for some old fashioned Russian whitewater entertainment.

This trip took nerves of steel.

Watch more whitewater kayaking in Russia with Chris Korbulic’s trip to the Altai.


Read an excerpt from C&K editor-at-large Eugene Buchanan’s book about rafting Russia's Bashkaus River

Go inside an expedition to Russia’s Onot River, deep in Siberia’s Sayan Mountains.

Watch film from another first descent in whitewater’s Chinese frontier.