Peter Heller tackles Tsangpo River
VAIL – At a time when it seems there are no magnificent adventures left undone, in Tibet there exists the virtual Mt. Everest of rivers, one whose mysteries have withstood centuries worth of determined efforts to explore its length. It has drawn some of the finest expedition paddlers on earth hoping to conquer its majesty.
The Tsangpo, the deepest river gorge in the world, is three times deeper and eight times steeper than the Grand Canyon. No one had ever successfully paddled the 44-mile stretch of the Upper Gorge from the town of Pe to Clear Creek, beyond which high waterfalls make the Gorge impassable. No human being had ever traversed the length of it at river level. A Westerner had never even seen a section of the Gorge, despite numerous assaults. As a river-running challenge, the remote Tsangpo is relentlessly unforgiving, more difficult than any stretch of river ever attempted.It was here in 2002 that Scott Lindgren, a brash 30-year-old expedition kayaker and Emmy Award-winning adventure filmmaker from Auburn, California, along with his carefully chosen team of six “river cowboys,” set out to change history. This ambitious and potentially deadly undertaking was sponsored by Outside magazine – under the condition that a journalist of the magazine’s choosing travel with the group and document their journey for the magazine. Peter Heller, himself a world class kayaker and noted adventure writer, joined the Tsangpo Expedition as a member of the ground support team and official expedition journalist, and was also granted the exclusive opportunity to write the book about the descent. Heller chronicles the amazing story in “Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River.”Heller, who lives in Denver, will offer a free glimpse of his adventure Thursday night at Donovan Park Pavilion in West Vail. The presentation is the first of the Unlimited Adventure Series offered by the Town of Vail Library and the Vail Symposium. Heller’s presentation begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call (970) 479-2195 or (970) 476-0954. Reservations are not required.Vail, Colorado