Riverwide keeper. Photo by Travis Winn

This section of the Yalong was blocked by a major landslide in the 1960's. Although no one knows what it was like before then, subsequent large floods have moved huge boulders tens of miles downstream, resulting in numerous Class 6 rapids. The team of nine Class 5 kayakers was led by Travis Winn of Last Descents (www.lastdescents.com). Put-in for this stretch was about 20 miles south of Yajiang, near 29 44 14N, 101 05 00E at 8300', take-out was north of Muli near 28 10 25N, 101 22 08E.

They portaged 38 rapids out of hundreds of challenging rapids on the ten day expedition. This 165 mile stretch, which has an average gradient of 20' per mile, was run at low flows (about 10,000 -15,000 cfs in February). A video by Nate Ostis is available. This stretch is largely occupied by Tibetans, is being dammed and is not a good repeat run. However, a group of six kayakers led by Travis Winn completed a second descent in November, 2010 at higher flows and only portaged once. Unfortunately, more dams are under construction so this is probably the last descent.

A Chinese team claims to have rafted the upper Yalong in Qinghai, but no documentation is available. A road parallels the river from Garze in northwest Sichuan to Yajiang, and dams are being built in the Yalong Great Bend section downstream from the Muli area.

Photos on Last Decents website

Before Yalong 2nd Descent Blog, with team pictures

Yalong River: World Class Whitewater Faces a Bleak Future

More info about the rivers of Tibet and western China