Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kayaking Road Trip, Alakanada Valley

From L-R, Author, Kanhan Singh, Phil Carrivick at the put in of the Pindar river.


This trip we keep talking about at camp. It got sorted out when I visited Rana with a bottle of 15yr old Dalwhinnie. Got him to check the schedule not once, but twice, thus giving us a total of 3 days off and secured a jeep and driver for the trip.
The next afternoon at 2pm we were off. It was a seven hour drive to Karanprayag and when we arrived the Pindar river looked like it had a nice flow. After some rum, a dinner of roasted murga(chicken), dal chapati and bhat and a good sleep, we were off to the put in a few kms above Thrali. The whole run is roadside and approx 50kms long of grade 3-4 continuous rapids.
It was done for probably the first time in 1993, and has seen a few other descents since then. That is the neat thing about India, no guide books so you don't know exactly what is around each corner. We ran pretty consistently with a few photo stops, a scout or two, and lunch and the run took us about 6 hours.
This would be a nice run to do in a couple of days. There is another town to stop in, this would make it a light two day trip. There also was numerous nice little play waves spread along the river, with a handy one at the end of the river, but after 6 hours of boating we were all pretty tired. So it was back to the truck, get changed, have a cup of chai. From there it was off to Nandprayag.

Phil and Kanhan dropping into one of the fun sections.

Kanhan after making it though a nice one.

The boys running together as the river drops around the corner.

Phil at the entrance to one of the steeper ones.

Phil pointing out the hydraulic at km35 that we where glad we stopped to look at.
Using my high gear watch to measure the gradient of the Pindar river.
See graph at top of watch.
We drove up from Nadaprayag the next morning to have breakfast in Ghaat. This road follows the Nandakini river for 19kms. We where hoping to have a go on this river. Unfortunately it was too low, firstly due to the fact that we were there a bit late in the season, secondly due to the fact that there is one run of river dam project on it, and another currently being built. Still a beautiful drive and nice to see where some companies start the Kuari Pass trek from.
After having breakfast we headed off to the upper Alakanada. The section we did runs from Bhari, about 9kms above Chamoli, to Nadaprayag giving us a nice grade3-4+ 20km long section. This was another just read and run section with a couple of scouts and a nice play wave three quarters of the way down.
After that it was time to head back to the banks of the Ganges. All in all a good three day paddling trip.
Watchful children at the put in to the upper Alakanada.
Boating among the boulders.

Kanhan Singh styling down one of the bigger ones.
Phil enjoying the day.
Phil going past a local fisherman sitting on the right side of mushroom rock.

Author surfing it up in the SCUD on the upper Alakanada. Photo by Phil Carrivick

Photos by David Prothero

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sutlej River, 2007


One of the Gujar(local cattleman) along the banks of the river. These Cattlemen spend 6 months in the valley with there family before heading on a 15 day trek back into the hills during the summer.

Working with Aquaterra this year has been a great experience. I have been able to get out on a number of different trips. This year we did the 2nd commercial descent of the Sutlej river from Rampur, the 1st descent was back in 2001 by Steve Currey.
This is a beautiful river in Himachal Pradesh, the run is great with 80 odd rapids in the grade 2-3+ range, a couple of grade 4's and one portage within the 116kms of river that we ran. The trip was part of a groups quest on running four of the sacred rivers that run off Mt. Kailash in Tibet. So far they they have done the Siang in Northeastern India, the Karnali in Nepal, and the Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh. Next on the list is the Indus.

We started the trip with a couple of high water days on the Ganges before making a drive through four river valleys to the Tons river. Early the next morning we rafted a short section on this river. Going from 30,000cfs on the Ganges to 2,000cfs on the Tons was a good change. From there we made the drive up the Pabar river valley and over to Shimla, the capital of Himachal, where we stayed at the Woodville Palace. There is lots of history from the Raj period here. From there we drove over the famous ski hill of Narkanda and down to the Sutlej valley ending our drive at Rampur. From here we would be on the river for the next six days.

The team consisted of guys from India, Wales, Ireland, and England.

The first few days where very nice grade three and some grade four, all read and running with one scout. After that the river mellowed out a bit on our way down to Tattapani. This was nice to spend the afternoon with a sulphur soak in the tubs of one of the guest houses here.

Day 5 we dropped into the gorge section of the river for the next two days. So we loaded all the gear onto the cataraft and gear boat and headed downstream. A great section with rapids on almost every corner and towering canyon walls surrounding us.

We arrived at the last camp on the river fairly shortly after lunch which made for another relaxing afternoon of playing cards, book reading and chilling out. We had received info the day before that the dam being built downstream had progressed further than we had thought. As was such, our trip would be shortened by about 9kms. Vaibhav coaxed the dam officials to give us permission to get out there and arranged porters for the takeout.

The Dam pushes the Sutlej through two tunnels and has blocked off 4kms of the river which we drove through after loading the gear. This dam will flood almost the whole section that we rafted, almost to Lahuri. Leaving just 30kms of good river left. This will probably happen within the next five years. Check out Aquaterra to see about the availability of this trip before it is under water.

Enjoy the photos.

Floating down the Sutlej, Vaibhav and Rajiv lead the way.

Local Gujar family along the banks of the river.

Camp on the banks of the Sutlej.

Kanhan Singh playing it up in a hole.

Local Gujar boys in the Sutlej valley.

Simon ripping it up on the Sutlej. Photo by Mark Corti.

Vaibhav and Rajiv coming through a big one. Photo by Mark Corti.

Airborne. Photo by Mark Corti.

Checking out downstream, watching out for the cave on river right. Photo by Mark Corti.

Kanhan taking the sneak line on the portage. Photo by Bob Person.

Rajiv back on the water, with author looking on after portage.
Photo by Bob Person.

Kanhan and myself R2 after the portage. Photo by Daniel Geoghan.

In one of the beautiful canyons on Day 5.

Photos by David Prothero.
For other great photos by Mark Corti, check out http://www.lightflowinterrupted.com/