Photo from raw video by Steve Curry, The Expedition Company.
Lower Parlung Tsangpo in SE Tibet, 1999
This expedition was operated jointly by Steve Curry of the Expedition Company and Eric Hertz of Earth River Expeditions. There were eight foreigners on three catarafts and two kayaks. The main Chengdu-Lhasa highway follows the river high up on the side of the canyon but is not intrusive. This was an exploratory trip that resulted in a decision by Earth River Expeditions together with Sobek to attempt a commercial expedition on this stretch in the Fall of 2000. However, a landslide holding back a large lake on the Yigong Tsango, which joins the Parlung to form the Po, collapsed and the resulting flood closed road access to the river, so the 2000 trip had to be cancelled.
The put-in just below Rawu Lake (29 54 22N, 95 26 55E) had an elevation of about 10,000', the fall flow estimated at about 7,000 cfs, and the average gradient for the Class 3-4 stretch is about 40' per mile. They ran about 40 miles in four days. As with most rivers in Tibet, there are several Tibetan monasteries along it, and visits by monks were a highlight of the trip (see photo above).
In 2004, a group of kayakers led by Chris Jones of Windhorse Adventures and Clive Williamson completed a first descent of the upper Parlung (see 2003).