Rong Chu, Tibet, 1996

Phung Chu near confluence with Rong Chu, 1996

Photos by Andrey Ponomarev.

E. Rong Chu, Rong Chu and Phung Chu, Tibet, 1996

These river segments were run by Vladimir Lysenko and Boris Ivanov of the the Himalayan Club of Rafters and Kayakers ( This expedition beginning at 5,600 m (18,300') is probably the world's record for high-altitude boating (about 70 ft higher than the put-in for expeditions beginning at the source of the Yarlung Tsango). The put-in was at source of E.Rong Chu at the beginning of September (this place rises Everest basecamp for 400 meters) on the Tibetan side of Everest. After 60 miles on the E. Rong Chu (1-man cataraft, 80'/mile) and Rong Chu (2 man cataraft, 60'/mile), they boated on the Phung Chu to Kharta (near Nepal border) over a 7 day period (all roadside). The air pressure is so low at these elevations that getting enough oxygen is difficult, especially under the strenuous physical exertion of paddling Class IV-V rapids. In 1996, Lysenko also completed a first descent of the Chogir River in Xinjiang, on the north side of K-2, the second highest mountain on earth.

The Lower Phung Chu section of this run was run in rafts and kayaks by Chris Jones of Wind Horse Expeditions in 2004.

The Phung Chu below Tingri and above the Rong Chu confluence (upper Phung Chu) has not been run. It initially flows through a wide valley with a low gradient (the eastward flowing stretch). Where the river turns south, the 15 mile section above the confluence with the Rong Chu flows through a canyon which has a very high gradient with a significant water fall near the begining, numerous landslide rapids (sieves) and is probably not be safely runnable.

See Rafting Down The Highest World Peaks by Vladimir Lysenko for his journal of this expedition and for a list of rivers he has run that drain the highest peak on each continent.

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