Lower Sutlej (Xianquan) in Tibet, 2004
Trip leader Alexander Selvachev of the Russian Adventure and Travel Team (www.ratt.ru) led the first descent of the lower Sutlej in the fall of 2006 (Tsada, 31 29 57N 79 29 23a, to Sybgyi, 31 47 04N, 78 51 45E), a few months after a German team completed a first descent of the upper Sutlej (see 2004a). They also ran a second descent of the upper Sutlej and claim to have run a short (10 mile) canyon the German team portaged in this section. The scenery is unreal, and they saw several ancient cave towns, cut into the soft shales. There were no roads or inhabitants in this extremely dry region.
The lower section contained several Class 6 rapids (rock sieves) that required portaging (see photo above); otherwise the river was Class 3-4 at the 1000 cfs late fall flow. Average gradient was about 18' per mile for the 60 mile section. The 9 member team used two catarafts for the 11 day trip. Due to the portages and extreme remoteness, this is probably not a good repeat run.