Paddling Tibet


Paddling Life Magazine has a very cool trip report posted on their website from Eric and Jennifer Ladd, a brother and sister team who traveled to Tibet in September to make a first descent on the Salween River, located in the Eastern section of the country. The 200-mile run was, as you can imagine, filled with epic whitewater unlike anything they’d seen before.

The pair, who were born and raised in Colorado, traveled to a very remote region of Tibet, where few westerners ever visit. They went to a town called Shading, which is a three day’s ride from Lhasa along treacherous roads that would make for an adventure in and of itself.

Once there, they joined a group of 12 total paddlers who were prepared to make the run. Seasonal rainfall has the Salween swelled to it’s limits, and the rain wasn’t letting up, which delayed their start, but gave them an opportunity to paddle the Gyel Chu river, a smaller tributary to the Salween, which made for good practice. Two days of paddling the Gyel Chu, and they reached the confluence of it and the Salween and found that their real goal was read for them.

The rest of the trip was down the Salween, which they compare to the Grand Canyon for the size of it’s whitewater and towering canyon walls. Over the course of the next week they made their way down the 200-mile stretch they had set out for their first descent, and from the looks of the photos and the stories that they tell, it seems like it was an amazing experience, both for the paddling aspects and the cultural benefits of meeting the Tibetans and visiting their country.

This sounds like an amazing adventure. I’d love to do something like this, and Tibet/Nepal would be a great place to get that mix of culture and outdoor adventure.

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