Chinese paddle raft flips in Anyemachen Canyon, 1987

There is a book (Mandarin only) and Chinese TV footage of the 1987 first descent of the Yellow. The three competing Chinese teams started near Madoi (34 53 06.25N, 98 10 15.64E, 13,825'), and seven of them drowned in Anyemachen Canyon below the bridge near Rabya Gompa, also known as Tashi Kundeling (34 40 50.0N, 100 38 31.4N). The teams eventually joined together and rafted the undammed sections of the entire 2900 miles to the North China Sea near Beijing. Flows began at a few thousand cfs and increased to several hundred thousand. The average gradient is about 12'/mile in Anyemachen Canyon. With the exception of some short stretches near Madoi that were run by the Cousteau Society with motorize rafts in 1996, the river has not been run since 1987. The drownings in Anyemaqen Canyon at high flows in 1987 have discouraged a second descent.

From the source lakes to the mouth of Anyemaqen Canyon, with the exception of a short canyon before the Zoige Basin, the river braids in wide valleys characteristic of the Tibetan Plateau. In the Zoige Basin the river basically flows through a huge swamp for over a hundred miles. The river has largely been damned below Anyemaqen Canyon. In many years, irrigations diversions below the Anemychen Mountains result in a dry riverbed at the river's mouth in the North China Sea.

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