Custom East Tibet Kayak Expedition Report

This past fall an international group of paddlers embarked on a tripü to Tibet, to the Roof of the world. The team consisted of a international group of paddlers from different countries and for the first time, there were 3 swiss paddlers all together on such an adventure. Palm Equipment International was the proud supporter of those three paddlers consisting of Marc Gacond, Luc Wielatt and Dagger Europe/ Palm Equipment Team Rider Simon Hirter.


Here is his story:

Ever since beeing a kid I was deeply astonished and touched by the magical place Tibet, by its beautiful, mysterious landscape, its cultural heritage and more imporantly its past, present and future with the Chinese influence. So as Mariann Saether got in contact with me in August with the question if I want to join a trip to the roof of the World, it didn’t take me a second to confirm my intention to join them. The next weeks and months were spent with all kinds of things, two events to organise, managing that Olympic champion, etc.. yet the date of departure came fastly closer and the excitement was rising at same speed every single day.

The whole team arrived together in Lhasa on a warm November afternoon. Surprised by the unexpected warmth. The team used the first few days to get used to the extended height of 4000 meters, in order to be able to paddle within our abilties with enough oxygen in our lungs. We did visit the Potala Palace as well as some other cultural treasures, yet after 4 days the whole team was ready to leave!
On the first day we had to drive over 2 passes, which were both over 5000 meters high, in order to reach our first piece of Tibetan whitewater. We were welcomed with 2 days of rain, which were the only ones on our whole trip, though!

Our mission was to head to the Parlung Tsangpo area, warm-up on some tributaries then run more or less the whole length of Parlung Tsangpo as well as the entrance to the mighty Po Tsangpo gorges (which finally forms the Yarlung Tsangpo).

Yet first we were still getting used to the high altitude as well as the considerably larger volume than in our home countries, to be ready to run the gnar and meat on the upcoming big volume runs.

We experienced beautiful whitewater and a scenery which was just mindblowing!
The Swiss members of the team were lucky enough to get a sweet deal on Palm products.., dry gear, which was much needed in the very cold, fast and continous whitewaters of Chile! Marc Gacond, a wellknown Raft Guide was outfitted with a Sidewinder DrySuit and couldnt believe the comfort and easiness of that piece of gear… (told you! ;))

Since we were a big group, there were a few issues appearing, especially on how to travel and experience Tibet. Yet in the end, we were able to talk about it and find solutions…

After a day hiking, where we went up to the very source of the Parlung Tsangpo… What we discovered was no less than mindblowing… Nature of such beauty, majesty and pureness that all of group that took the hike went back with a heart full of emotions!

The following days we were back on the water… moving down the Parlung… 200kms of wicked whitewater lay ahead of us…. growing bigger every single mile..

In the end we entered the Po Tsangpo, a mighty river with huge rapids in between flat stretches… The Swiss crew wanted to take on the last big one, but unfourtenatly the waterlevel dropped too much the last days and left a white hell to an already very intimidating rapid! After a short hike out, we were on the way back to Lhasa, were the majority of the team left straight away! We stayed another 4-5days, unable to boat but with plenty of options to entertain ourselves!

A huge thanks goes out to Tibet Wind Horse Adventure, Chris Jones and Jed Weingarten. WIthout these guys our trip would have been much less pleasant! If you ever consider to head to Tibet (u should!!) make sure to drop these guys a mail, they will sort you out with anything!
After a short stay in Bejjing, we headed back to Switzerland where Mark hit straight the cutting room. And while you read this, Gilette World Sports is broadcasting a big segment of it, all around the world! If you have the chance to check out Gilette World Sports this month.. we guess it will be well worth it!

So what stays with us are unforgetable moments of a living and astonishing Tibetian culture, beautiful nature, a spirit within Tibet which is almost unbelievable and memories of some of the most beautiful whitewater we have ever paddled on!

Thanks goes out to VW Multivan for making this trip possible and PALM for supporting us with awesome and dry gear as well as all the other brands, which did have a part to make this happen!!

Hope to see you soon on a river

Simon Hirter

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