Ji Qu - Mekong Headwaters Tributary

Photo by Will Stauffer-Norris

In 2015, Will Stauffer-Norris kayaked about 70 miles of the Ji Qu, though only the last 40 miles were a first descent. The Ji Qu is the largest tributary to the main fork of the Mekong on the Tibetan Plateau (the Za Qu). This section is downstream of the rapid at the end of the 2011 expedition (http://www.shangri-la-river-expeditions.com/1stdes/mekong/jiqu2011.html). At the 2015 put-in (Lat 32 24 09 N, Lon 95 38 29 E, elevation 13,200'), the river flow was about 15,000 cfs on June 7, declining to about 5,000 cfs on June 14 at the take-out (Lat 31.54 N, Lon 96.09 E, elevation 12,200), with an average gradient of about 14 ft/mi (flows are estimates only, other data from Google Earth). There was one non-mandatory portage, a couple of class 4 rapids and several class 3 rapids, but otherwise river was a very busy class 2. The meander stretch at the end of this section of river is a great repeat run.

The meander stretch in the Goggle Earth image (covered with ice) is comparable to the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park in southern Utah and hopefully will someday become part a Chinese provincial park. Last Descents River Expeditions provided Stauffer-Norris with transportation for this trip.


Photo from Google Earth

Geology of the Mekong Headwaters Area (Qinghai)

Return to First Descents of the Mekong
More info about rivers in China