In this book the rafting expeditions of Vladimir Lysenko in the Himalayas, Karakoram, the Cordilleras and other mountains (in Nepal, India, Pakistan, China, Argentina, Tanzania, Peru, the USA, Italy, Australia, Indonesia and Ethiopia) are described. V.Lysenko became the first man all over the world who had rafted down all 8-km-peaks and the highest peaks of all continents and Oceania. Lysenko had rafted on the upper waters of the Amazon and Nile Rivers also.
The first Himalayan rafting expedition
Diary of rafting down Everest (the second Himalayan expedition)
Diary of the third Himalayan rafting expedition (Nepal, India)
Rafting in Pakistan
Karakoram expedition in China
The first Cordilleras rafting expedition (Argentina)
The first African expedition (Tanzania)
The second Cordilleras expedition (the Amazon, Peru)
The third Cordilleras expedition (Alaska, USA)
Alpine expedition in Italy
Rafting in Australia
Expedition in Indonesia (on New Guinea island)
Rafting on the Blue Nile (Ethiopia)
The third Karakoram expedition (rafting down Chogori in China)
Rafting down Everest in Tibet
Formal results of rafting down the highest world's peaks
On solar September day of 1996, having moored my raft to the bank of the Tibetian river Phung Chu after the settlement Kharta, I have finished the seven-year series of raftings (fourteen expeditions) from the highest peaks of the world. I made that, about which dreamed many years. But about everything under the order.
In rafting/kayaking I have got, when (I was fourteen years old then) to our school one of the former it's graduaters has come and has called to be written down for the section at the town Pioneer's "Palace". The agitation has turned out successful, there was wrote down hundred persons about. In a month eleven remained only, however these eleven persons hereinafter went to section constantly, down to its closing.
I was elected (for some reason) the captain of the section. We looked slides, assorted and collected kayaks "Salyut", carried out the run crosses. And though the section has existed for a half-year only, but I had time to receive the such charge of romanticism of "a tourist trail", that for me it was enough for all life. And when at the eighth class it was possible to persuade the parents to purchase the two-seater kayak "Salyut", the independent trips have begun - at first in Kharkov region (on the Lopan, Mzha, Udy, Kharkov, Severskiy Donets Rivers and other), then - in Belgorod region (the Oskol, the same Severskiy Donets Rivers), Poltava (the Vorskla) and Donetsk regions, Moscow region (the Istra River). It were the simple rivers, without any obstacles. The great thing was, that we, the schoolboys, travelled independently. We found out the environmental world, slept in tents (and, at first, in kayaks even), prepared to self food, carried out at times the powerful trainings (for 90-100 km per a day on smooth water) and tested the huge aesthetic pleasure from dialogue with the nature. Purely, the romanticism of "far ways" was the main reason that "turned" us out from home. For each evening we a long time sat at a fire, drank tea, played on a guitar (almost the all boys in our company could do it) and sang the songs.
In due course the routes became to complicate (twice the Yuzhniy Bug River in Ukraine, the Nyuhcha, Ileksa, Vama, Vodla in Karelia), and slowly we have got to mountains: Ural (the Sylva River), Sayans (the Us, Enisey Rivers), Carpathians (the White and Black Cheremosh), the Caucasus (the Kura, Teberda, Kuban), the Pamirs (the Sorbo), Verhoyanskiy range in Yakutia (the Khandyga River). We already were interested by severity of rivers, but it was not the main reason of the travellings. We alternated the severe trips with the simple ones (the Kalmius and Mius Rivers in Donetsk region, the Molochnaya (Milk) River in south of Ukraine). The our company and our kayaks were named "Tramp" by us. Just "to tramp" on all country it became more interesting. The relations in our company were the most friendly, you see, the people close on spirit were united. In several trips together with us there was the fox-terrier Micky.
This time - the beginning and the middle of the seventieth years - was happiest in my life. We took a great interest not only in rafting on the rivers. We have crossed Azov sea in the small sailing-boat "Mewa". I have become the owner of the badge "Climber of the USSR" at the Alpinist camp "Adyl-Su" in the Caucasus (in addition we have "subdued" the top Donguz-Orun-Cheget-Karabashi, 4,100 m), participated in the ski trip in Ural from Asia to Europe, in the winter has singly climbed the Mt.Goverla, the highest peak of Soviet Carpathians, and made the attempt to descend down it on the ordinary run skis.
We took a great interest in one-day bicycle races in full kit. Yet at seventh school form we made the raid Kharkov-Belgorod (90 km). Then the routes Kharkov-Poltava (150 km), Kharkov-Dnepropetrovsk (240 km), Kharkov-Krasnoarmeysk (270 km) per one day have followed.
But at the big variety of tourist variety the main for us there was the rafting.
Having moved in a few years to Novosibirsk (where I had entered the post-graduate course of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and then became D.Ph. in Fluid Mechanics), I have continued acquaintance with the different mountain regions of Soviet Union - Sayans (the Ona, Irkut, Sisim, Ozhu, Azas Rivers), Mountain Shoria (the Mras-Su River), Stanoviy range in Yakutia (the Timpton River, 600 km at absence of local people), Western Tien Shan (the Arashan). But best of all, naturally (because of geographical proximity), I had acquainted with Altai. Here I have rafted on the Biya, Peschanaya (some times), Black Uba and Uba, Katun (from the upper waters), Chuya, Ursul Rivers. However with great pleasure I rafted on the simple rivers also - on the Tom, the rivers of Novosibirsk region (the Berd and Inya - repeatedly, Elban, Bugotak, Big Izyly, Ob Rivers). Besides I participated in mountain (on foot) tours on Kirghiz range, in Zailiyskiy Ala-Tau.
I still was a pure amateur. I liked sheer to travel. But very much things have changed in my relation to rafting after the successful management of the travelling on the Ioldo and Nizhniy Kuragan Rivers (with the first descent of the main part of the route) in Altai. It was my first route with elements of the maximum (Soviet sixth, American tenth, international fifth) severity grade. It was carried out rather successfully, and I have understood, that I can lead the most severe raftings.
I made a list of ten severest water routes of the USSR (it was 1983) and have decided to pass them. These routes were:
1. Muksu (the Pamirs), 2. Charyn with Maynak Gorge (Northern Tien Shan), 3. Gaumysh, Khodjaachkan, Sokh (Pamiro-Alai), 4. Bashkaus (Altai), 5. Chulyshman (Altai), 6. Argut (Altai), 7. Matcha, Yagnob, Fandarya, Zeravshan (Pamiro-Alai), 8. Obihingou (the Pamirs), 9. Oygaing, Pskem (Western Tien Shan), 10. Big Naryn, Naryn (Central Tien Shan).
Except these ten, it was considered by me to be necessary to pass Mazhoyskiy cascade of the Chuya (the fourth and the last water sixth-grade route in Altai) and the Biy-Hem (the dream of my youth, Sayans). And from this moment I became purposefully to carry out the program for the conquest of the severest rivers of the USSR. The truth is, at first (as the last training) we had rafted in Western Tien Shan on the Sandalash and Chatkal Rivers. And then - it has begun to move... The Mazhoyskiy cascade of the Chuya, the Biy-Hem, Big Naryn and Naryn (my first management of six(maximum)-grade rafting with the first descent of "Naryn waterwalls" Canyon, 1985; by the way, grade 6 in the Soviet classification is equal to grade 5 in the international one, the difference between these classifications is 1 grade usually), the Bashkaus, Matcha, Yagnob, Fandarya and Zeravshan, Charyn with Maynak Gorge, Chulyshman, Gaumysh, Jialisu, Khodjaachkan, Sokh (in addition the first descent of whole Gaumysh, partially Jialisu and Khodjaachkan, July 1988), Muksu (truth is, not completely), Argut, Oygaing and Pskem.
And what is in regard to the Himalayas? They for a long time attracted me. Yet since the end of the seventieth - beginning of the eightieth years I have begun to dream to make the rafting down Mt.Everest. On a physical map of Nepal I have seen a gorge, in which a river from the foot of Everest could run, though on this map the river was not designated. Hereinafter my guesses have proved to be true, and the prospective river has turned out to be the Dudh Kosi. But the idea of the rafting down Everest for a long time remained for me by sheer dream, and the real it's realization was not looked through. As the first push to its realization it has served the successful ascent of Everest in 1982 of the team of the USSR climbers. From different diaries and memoirs of the participants of the expedition I have learned about the existence of the Dudh Kosi River, about settlements Namchebazar, Tengboche, Lobuche and much other. By the second push there were the extracts from the book "Canoeing Down Everest" by Mike Jones, published in magazine "Veter stranstviy" (in Russian) in 1987. I, naturally, have ordered at Lenin Library in Moscow the copy of this book and had read the book in English. Thus I have learned many additional petty (but rather useful) things, and at the same time have found out some discrepancies of translation into the Russian language in "Veter stranstviy". Now I already was in the grip of idea to raft down Everest.
The "perestroyka" in the USSR promoted the active realization of this idea. The "iron curtain" had opened a little, and there was appeared the real opportunity to get away to Nepal.
In Moscow I have got to know dozen of Nepaleses. Through them and Embassy of Nepal found out addresses of many Nepalese tourist firms, conducting rafting, and the two-year active correspondence was started. All this one has much expanded my notion of the orders in Nepal, of the rivers of this country. The acquainted Nepalese has sent the private invitation to me and my friend to visit Nepal. In the spring 1990 we have for the first time appeared in this country (and, to the point, in general for the first time abroad). As the direct flight of Soviet aircompany "Aeroflot" to Kathmandu then was not yet, we had to reach Nepal through India.
At the first attempt (that was at the first our arrival to Nepal) to get to the Dudh Kosi it was not possible for us (it was made only for the second my trip to Nepal in the spring 1991).
But there appeared the real opportunity to begin to carry out the second idea, arising since I have learned from the notes of the interpreters of the book of Mike Jones that he had lost on the Braldu River in Karakoram in 1978 (down Everest he had kayaked in 1976). The fact is, that the Braldu flows down the second peak of the world Chogori (K-2). I have thought, that it was with a definite purpose: 1976 - Everest, 1978 - Chogori; may be, the third peak of the world Mt.Kanchenjunga was planned for 1979? So there was appeared the new dream, including the previous to make raftings down from all 8-km-mountains of the world. Therefore, when in the first Himalayan expedition it was not possible to get to the Dudh Kosi, I without hesitation have gone over to fulfilment of the second goal. And for this first expedition it was possible to us to descend down the fifth peak of the world Makalu (on the Barun, Arun Rivers) and then (already to me singly) from 8-km-mountain Shisha Pangma (on the Bhote Kosi and Sun Kosi Rivers).
In the second Nepalese expedition I had still rafted down Everest, and also down Mts.Lhotse and Cho Oyu (on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi and Sapt Kosi Rivers), Kanchenjunga (on the Tamur) and Annapurna (on the Marsyangdi). Moreover I have begun the rafting down Everest from Khumbu Glacier at the height of 4,600 m (just here the river began) and have finished in Chatara at the height of 100 m above a sea level. The first my dream was carried out! And I have continued the realization of the second goal.
The third Nepalese expedition (August-September 1991) was devoted by me to the raftings down peaks Manaslu (on the Buri Gandaki River), Dhaulagiri (on the Myagdi, Rahughat Khola, Kali Gandaki Rivers), Annapurna (on the Modi, Marsyangdi Rivers); the Indian expedition (October 1991) in the Himalayas - to the descent down Kanchenjunga (on the Tista River in Sikkim and Western Bengalia States); the Pakistani (June 1992) and Chinese (October 1992) expeditions - to the raftings down from four Karakoram 8-km-mountains (Mts.Chogori, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum-1, Gasherbrum-2) on the Braldu, Shigar, Indus Rivers (in Pakistan) and the Yarkand River (in China), and also (in Pakistan) down Mt.Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas on the Bunar and Indus Rivers.
In this way the both my dreams were carried out. However (again by analogy with another popular idea of climbers of the whole world) yet in 1990 I had the third dream - to raft down the highest peaks of all continents (for exception, certainly, Antarctic, where are no rivers) and Oceania. And from January 1993 I have begun the realization of this idea. At first I had rafted in Argentina down from Mt.Aconcagua - the highest peak of South America - on the Orcones, Las Cuevas and Mendosa Rivers, and then raftings in Africa (in Tanzania down Kilimanjaro on the Karanga River, February 1993), North America (on Alaska, the USA, down Mt.McKinley on the McKinley and Kantishna, July-August 1993), West Europe (in Italy down Mont Blanco on the Dora Baltea River, October 1993) and East Europe (repeatedly down Elbrus on the Baksan River, and earlier - on the Kuban), Australia (down Kosciusko on the Snowy River, December 1994), Oceania (in Indonesia on New Guinea Island down from Mt.Jaya on the Kemabu, Darewo and Ajkwa Rivers, July 1995) have followed. Besides I had rafted in Peru on the upper waters of the Amazon (the Maranyon River, March 1993), in Japan on the Hirose River (September 1994) and in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile (Abbay, December 1995).
But, as it is spoken, the appetite comes during meal. At once after the successful rafting in 1991 in Nepal down Everest I have become to dream to descend down it in Tibet on the Rong Chu and Phung Chu Rivers (on the second of two water routes down from Everest, anybody not passed). And I succeeded to make it in September 1996, in addition set up the new high-altitude-rafting record (having begun the route from Eastern Rongbuk Glacier at the height of 5,600 m).
How were all four my dreams embodied in the reality, the description about it goes in this book.
One remark to photoillustrations. From seventeen my foreign expeditions the eight were carried out singly, yet the eight - together with one companion only, and only the last expedition - by three of us. But in any case for rafting there was used one ship (one-seat-catamaran, two-seater-catamaran or two-seater-raft), and all members of expedition were during the rafting in it (in Tibetian expedition the third participant, when was on a bank, shot by videocamera, and only on simple sites). Because of it and the constant shortage of money the special photographer on a bank was absent. And time from time there shot by photocamera (certainly, not in the most interesting in respect of sport places) in the basic the porters or extraneous people (local inhabitants), many of which before this never for their life held in hands a camera.
Besides, I want to note following. The given book is the set of records, made either directly during expeditions, or at once after their end. As a consequence of it - the certain "dryness" of the exposition of events. I hope, that the reader will forgive me for it.
I also hope, that the book will be useful for people, who are going to travel the world over.
THE FIRST HIMALAYAN RAFTING EXPEDITION
On April 8, 1990 we (I and my friend Sasha Gorb) have set off to conquer the Himalayan rivers. And it was so.
As the direct flight of Aeroflot to Nepal was not, we have arrived from Moscow to Delhi with the purpose to reach therefrom Kathmandu by a train and a bus. The trip from the international airport Delhi to the railway station has deeply impressed me - you see, I was in India for the first time. Beyond the bus window the odd tropical trees grew, taxi-motorscooters and bicycle-"rikshas" scurried, men were in local clothes, and woman in "sahri" - in common, there was in full swing the life, absolutely not similar to our, Soviet. Sasha did not completely speak English, therefore it was necessary to me alone to carry the dialogue with surroundings. At the railway station in cash departments for foreign tourists we have purchased the second class tickets for the evening train to Gorakhpur. While we waited for arrival of the train, around us the legless and armless boys crept and asked for an alms. The boarding the train into the carriage of the second class has surprised - there were the wild press, very many people (as in the most bad common Soviet carriage). We have hardly made the way to our places (specified in the ticket), but they have turned out to be engaged. It was necessary to go in terrible lack of space. In addition Sasha has reflected valiantly the attempt of one of smiled neighbours to survey slowly our rucksack for appropriation of something from its contents (by the way, in India and Nepal many people make a living out of it). Only at night the people had dispersed, and it was possible for us to sleep. In the morning have arrived to Gorakhpur. Have purchased the ticket for the bus just up to Kathmandu. Have at first reached Sonauli - the Indian township near the frontier with Nepal. Have quickly passed the border and custom check both on the Indian, and on the Nepalese parties.
And in a pair of hours we have gone away in the bus to Kathmandu, where have arrived in the morning of following day. Having left Sasha with things at the bus station, I have found the house of my acquaintance Ram (learning in the Soviet Union), got to know his brothers and then have gone for Sasha and things.
For the following day we were noted at the USSR Embassy (to the point, we were surprised by the counter astonishment of the officer from the consular department, which has asked: "And why do you need to be registered? " - after all, we have got used that abroad the appropriate state-security "organs" (KGB) watch vigilantly for the Soviet people, and it was considered the normal). And then the searches of the channel, through which the registration of rafting on the Nepalese rivers should be realized, have begun. From Central Immigration Office (where all tourists-trekkers receive permits) we have be sent to Ministry of Tourism.
There we have received the forms of the appropriate questionnaire and permits. After their filling we have gone to the section-officer, which answered at Ministry of Tourism for rafting. However here an unforeseen thing began. The fact is, that our purpose in Nepal was the rafting down Everest on the Dudh Kosi River. I rather long prepared to just this route, including from the point of view of overcoming different formalities. Yet one year before our trip to this country I have left at the secretary of Nepalese Embassy in Moscow Mr.Prosai the inquiry about whether is it possible to raft on the Dudh Kosi River from Khumbu Glacier. In a few months Mr.Prosai has received the answer from Nepal: "yes, it is possible". And the secretary of Embassy has wished me to raft successfully on the Dudh Kosi. Except official correspondence, I have asked the acquainted Muscovite-Nepalese, which went for vacation home, to find out, whether do tourist firms carry out the rafting on the Dudh Kosi, and if yes, for which price. This Nepalese has informed me, that rafting on the river, interesting me, is organized by a few firms, in particular, by "Tiger Tops" for 50 dollars per a day, and by some firms - even cheaper. And though those seven Nepalese tourist firms, with which I conducted correspondence, were not busy in the rafting on the Dudh Kosi (and have carried out rafting, in basic, on the Sun Kosi and Trisuli Rivers), I had not the basis to don't trust the information of this Moscow Nepalese. But the validity has turned out to be more sad considerably. At Ministry of Tourism it was declared, that freely to raft in Nepal we can only on eight so called commercial rivers - the Sun Kosi, Trisuli, Arun and etc. The rafting on the other rivers is necessary to put in order as expeditions. For that it is necessary to have the letter from the USSR Embassy in Nepal with the appropriate request. We with Sasha understood, that the USSR Embassy will not give us the such letter (what for it the responsibility for us?). Therefore we have decided to try to use another variant - through tourist firms. However, as it has appeared, here takes place the misinformation also. There are no any tourist firms (including "Tiger Tops") carried out the rafting on the Dudh Kosi. At last, it was possible to agree with the chiefs of one of firms that their guide will accompany us (naturally, not free-of-charge) on the Dudh Kosi, and they will undertake the registration. But when they have contacted with NARA - Nepalese association of guides-rafters (all raftings of tourist firms are registered just there), the president of the association has told, that we should have gone personally to him, and he will explain terms of NARA for realization of similar rafting. Having been held then the meeting has not brought us an anything good. President Hari Rai has informed, that before the similar rafting we should bring in the pawning of 45,000 Nepalese Rupees (it is about 1,500 American dollars) for the call of a helicopter in case of any incident at the rafting and the pawning of 100,000 Rupees (that is 3,500 dollars about) as the individual insurance for our guide. At last, according to the rules of NARA, the expedition cannot consist of less, than two crews (but we were going to raft in one two-seater catamaran), therefore NARA will expose its crew (it will be the second), and accordingly we should bring in the pawning for insurance of members of crew of the second boat. In a total we should lay out the pawning of twelve thousands dollars.
And yet it was required to allocate 1,000 Rupees to the tourist firm, to pay each accompanist 7 dollars per every day and to supply with a meal, spending the night, transport and others. But as we with Sasha had total 600 dollars for both us only, the bargain with NARA was not held.
Thus, the variant with the Dudh Kosi in this expedition has failed. We had to postpone the travelling on the Dudh Kosi till the following arrival to Nepal. And on which rivers have we to raft now? Once again overlooking the list of the commercial rivers of Nepal, I have selected three of them - the Arun, Sun Kosi and Trisuli. The fact is, that my interest in Nepal was not limited by the rafting down Everest only. Hereinafter I was going to raft down from all 8-km-mountains of the world, the majority of which is on territory of Nepal or adjoins (Mt.Shisha Pangma) to it. So here, from the 8-km-mountain Makalu there flows down the Barun River, falling into the Arun, and from Shisha Pangma - the Bhote Kosi River, falling into the Sun Kosi, and also (as then it seemed me) the Trisuli River. We have solved to raft on these rivers. The registration of the appropriate papers and the reception of permits has taken some time - two days. After this we have set off to the Barun-Arun. By the bus have reached at first Dharan, and then - Basantpur, from which the trekking began.
Passing Khanberi and Num, we have reached Lamobagar.
Up to the Barun there were left the several kilometres. But the local policeman have not been satisfied with our documents. Therefore he allowed me only (and for one day) to reach the Barun River. This river has turned out to be shallow and possible for rafting on the last two hundred meters only (upstream there were the waterfalls in stone slots, and the trail was not as along the right, as along the left bank). I was enforced to raft on the Barun and on the first of the Arun site (to Lamobagar almost) singly. Although the level of water in Arun was low there, I met several rapids of 5 grade according to the Soviet classification (it is equal to 4 grade of international grouping, the difference between these classifications is 1 grade usually) with holes, rollers and big stones. Because of the above-mentioned problem with police, we became to raft on the Arun together much lower Lamobagar only (from the settlement Uwa). Up to Num and farther to Kumaltar the rapids on this river are very severe (of 5 and 6 severity grade), but passable. The difficult-to-pass (almost impassable because of an abundance of boulders) rapids were met by us. But particularly dangerous rapid (with big slope and great hole across the whole river) is located after the main bridge near Num (after a right tributary), we didnt pass the first half of this obstacle.
After Chandanpur the river slows down the run and is broken into channels. It has such character after Tumlingtar also. Below Ahnuwa Beltar the Arun River turns to south in Mahabharat region and enters in a gorge, in which number of rapids of 4 (sometimes 5) severity grade (sg) is located. The stones in the channel are not almost present. The basic obstacles are rollers and "holes". Only shortly before the meeting with the Sun Kosi and Tamur Rivers the Arun calms down secondary and finally. After this confluence the river is called the Sapt Kosi already. It at first flows in beautiful gorge, and in a hour of rafting is pulled out from the Himalayas on plain (further it will slowly creep to the Ganges). And the rafting comes to the end. We have finished in Chatara the settlement on the left bank of the river. The Arun from the mouth of the Bunar has turned out to be the rather severe river, and the powerful rapids on it frequently forced us to work with all strength, the high rollers from time to time covered us with a head. But any incidents (turnings over, the breakages and other) during our rafting did not happen. After arrival to Chatara we have reached Dharan in a jeep, and therefrom in a bus - Kathmandu. At once after it, because of some family circumstances, Sasha was compelled to leave home (through Delhi), and I have remained alone with my plans.
In a day I have set off to the Bhote Kosi and Sun Kosi Rivers, on which the water route down Shisha Pangma passes. Together with a porter in a bus I have reached Barabise, and in the other bus - Kodari, being on border with Tibet (China). From here the Tibetian township Khasa with the characteristic for Tibet many-storey lay-out is perfectly seen. Kodari and Khasa are divided by the bridge over the Bhote Kosi, which is the frontier between Nepal and China. Across the bridge the road between Kathmandu and Lhasa - capitals of Nepal and Tibet - runs. And there is the sole frontier post, through which the foreigners pass from Nepal to China or back.
I have begun the rafting in a catamaran lower Kodari in one-two kilometres about. Here on the Bhote Kosi the obstacles of 5 and 6 severity grade are. After Tatopani and Tengtali the river flows in a canyon of 5-6 sg. In the upper sector of the river (from the rafting start to the canyon end) I made three portages. Before Barabise the Bhote Kosi calms down. And after two kilometres it falls into the Sun Kosi River, on which I have continued the rafting. Soon it was necessary to make the carrying of the catamaran: the river was blocked by a dam (it was about in the middle of way between Barabise and Lamosangu). After Lamosangu over the Sun Kosi there is the bridge; from it on the left bank the road leaves to Jiri the starting point of the foot route to Everest region. On the site from the dam up to Dolalghat the severe obstacles are not present. Then the Sun Kosi moves aside from the road and turns south-east. In Dolalghat I have said good-bye to the porter, which up to this place went on the bank with my rucksack. Having loaded the catamaran with the property, I have become to raft on the Sun Kosi alone. Beginning from Dumja on the river there was the number of rapids of 3-4 grade. But the most dangerous rapids of the Sun Kosi are after its left tributary Nolung before the Dudh Kosi. On this site there are three powerful jet rapids "Harkhapur" of 5 severity grade. After the falling into the Sun Kosi of its left tributary Dudh Kosi, running down Everest, the Sun Kosi River calms down. But before the confluence of it with the Arun, on the Sun Kosi there are met the several local powerful rapids of 4-5 grade. After the junction of the Sun Kosi and the Arun (and - in 200 m - of the Tamur also) I already the second time have rafted on the Sapt Kosi and again have finished the route in Chatara, whence through Dharan has come back to Kathmandu.
And, at last, there has come a turn of the last river in my plans of rafting, the Trisuli. On it from the very beginning I was alone. Have started in Trisuli Bazar, where have reached from Kathmandu by bus. The assembly of my catamaran was observed by about hundred (or even more) spectators - half of the township poured out on the bank. But there is nothing to describe especially the purely rafting from Trisuli Bazar to Narayanghat. The river has turned out to be the most easy (of 3-4 sg) from all rivers, passed by me in Nepal. But as almost over the whole its length (except for the first site) along it there is the road (connecting Kathmandu with Delhi) with very intensive movement of transport, the Trisuli is the most popular for rafting of foreign tourists river of Nepal (the Sun Kosi - in the second place). Here dozens of tourist firms make rafting of hundreds of the foreign tourists in big rafts.
The guides-professionals, leading these rafts, manage to inspire clients-tourists with that the Trisuli is the very-very dangerous river, and on each meter roller these tourists squeal from delight. Does a human need much?
Having finished the rafting on the Trisuli, I have come back to Kathmandu the last time. Then for 450 Rupees (about 15 US dollars) I have purchased the bus ticket to Delhi, have reached in a bus Bhairahawa, have crossed the Nepalese-Indian frontier and in other bus have reached the capital of India.
These 1.5 days of contiguous shaking in dust (from border to Delhi) will for ever remain in my memory, but not as the best memoirs. Having tramped during the day through capital of India, I have got on the bus, following to the international airport. The truth is, before it a small incident has taken place. For some time I have left without a care my rucksack at the bus station. And when have come back, have not found out it on the spot. It has appeared, that the local policemen, being afraid of an act of terrorism, took my rucksack away to self. And I had to prove during hour, that I am not the terrorist. However, have proved.
At the international airport Delhi an unpleasant surprise waited me - it was necessary to pay for using of the airport 300 Indian Rupees (that is 20 American dollars). Fortunately, they at me were (but, you see, could without fuss not be, as about such service of airports I heard noting before it - in the Soviet Union we always took off from airports free-of-charge).
In the evening of May 14,1990 by the flight of Aeroflot I have taken off from Delhi to Moscow. By this the expedition was finished.
Now I want to say about received impressions. The Nepaleses are very affable, are friendly, however steal. Once during my rest on the bank at the rafting on the Trisuli River there have been stolen my jacket with money and passport. After this it was necessary for me to receive in the USSR Embassy the document about returning to motherland (a sheet of paper with my photo and seal of Embassy; at the crossing the Nepalese-Indian border one white foreigner has asked me spitefully: "Is it your passport?", I with imperturbable aspect have answered: "Yes"). However, what to me was not pleasant in Nepaleses and Indians, the fact, that for the slightest help to you (for example, for one-meter moving of your rucksack; moreover they render this help on their initiative without any your request) they require money and arrange large scandal, if you have not paid them at once.
In Nepal there are very cheap hotels and travel in regular buses, however in such bus three places in width are equal to our two. And as we with Sasha are not ailing fellows (we are the ex-sportsmen-rowers), for the third person (Nepalese) it was heavily to sit on one bench with us (however, for us too). The local food is cheap too (European, certainly, is much more expensive). Therefore we for all time ate "dalh-bat" (rice with vegetables - the cheapest Nepalese food) and drank the Nepalese tea with milk (tea - magnificent, very tasty).
Kathmandu - the small nice town (though dirty). To the end of expedition I knew it not worse Moscow and without any misgivings walked through its suburbs at night time (robberies in Nepal are practically away). To move through Kathmandu it is possible in different ways (depending on the thickness of your purse) on foot, by bicycle-riksha, in car-taxi, in motorscooter-taxi, in "tempo" (motorscooter, going along the certain route, with cabin for six passengers). "Tempo" - the cheapest type of transport (not counting the all-time filled to overflowing regular town buses with hanging down as bunches people). It about ten times is cheaper than bicycle-riksha.
Unfortunately, in Kathmandu (also in all flat Nepalese and Indian towns and settlements) it is necessary to be afraid to drink the unboiled water - in the water from water-pipes there are a lot of sickly microbes; many Nepaleses because of it are sick. Therefore it is necessary to drink either tea, or "bottle" mineral water, or "Coca Cola" (or anything similar). However in mountains the situation changes. On the one hand, there sharply rises in price "Coca Cola" at local small shops and restaurants. And on the other hand, the water from streams becomes perfect safe (in mountains the microbes are absent). During trekking and rafting I constantly drank water from the mountain streams, but haven't diarrhoea.
It is very interesting to make a trekking on mountain trails. They contiguously either climb upwards, or descend downwards, frequently run on pendant foot-bridges over mountain small river, time from time pass past many-storey rice fields.
During the rafting on the Arun there were many wild monkeys. At first it was unusual, but then we have got used to them.
And the great thing. For this expedition I have for the first time felt self by the person of the world, just of the whole world, but not by the citizen of the USSR only. I have sensed such freedom, which before in the USSR could not feel. I freely communicated with foreigners from the whole world, and anybody did not stand between us. The ideological barriers have disappeared, and the dialogue with simple Americans, Englishmen, Germans delivered huge pleasure. Nepal was the first foreign country, which I have visited, but from it my children's dream of travellings all over the world began to come true.
So, my first Himalayan water expedition was finished. It has passed successfully - the Nepalese rivers Barun, Arun, Bhote Kosi, Sun Kosi and Trisuli were rafted. But I knew, that shall return to Nepal again without fail. As the other rivers, flowing down 8-km-mountains, and, first of all, the Dudh Kosi, were not yet rafted by me. I left to come back.
DIARY OF RAFTING DOWN EVEREST (THE SECOND HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION)
March 29, 1991. By flight 561 of Aeroflot I have arrived to Kathmandu from Moscow. The aircraft made landing in United Arab Emirates. In the aircraft I got to know the climbers Sergey Ovcharenko and Alexander Moroz. They fly for the reconnaissance of Mt.Annapurna with expectation for 1992.
We have arrived to Kathmandu late, Ministry of Tourism already was closed.
March 30. Saturday, holiday. Ministry of Tourism and Central Immigration Office (CIO) did not work. During all day I visited the private tourist firms, connected with Tibet (that to discuss an opportunity of carrying out of expeditions there), but either they were closed, or on the spot there were found insignificant officers only, inviting to come tomorrow.
March 31. Having paid in Rastra Bank for my travellings, I have gone to Ministry of Tourism to the section-officer, managing rafting. Have informed him, that I want to descend down Everest on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi and other rivers from settlement Lobuche (4,930 m above a sea level) to Chatara (100 m), and then to raft on the Tamur River (running down Mt.Kanchenjunga). I have shown him the accompanying letters. The officer has told, that on the Dudh Kosi nobody rafted singly before, but in principle it is possible. For this purpose I will need to pay all charges, connected with a liaison-officer, the presence of which at expedition is certain. He has told to come tomorrow. So one day was lost. Certainly, I did not idle and ran through tourist firms, connected with Tibet and Sikkim (there I want to raft on the Tista River too).
April 1. In the morning I have handed over the passport to CIO for prolongation of the visa for 14 days. In Ministry of Tourism the section-officer has given me to sign the paper that I am ready to bear the charges for a liaison-officer. And again he has told me to come for the following day. In CIO I have taken away the passport with the prolonged visa.
April 2. The section-officer has told me, that all papers are ready, and has shown me the permits and the "permissible" letter, but by him not yet signed. However at first it is necessary to make arrangements with anybody from officers of Ministry of Tourism, that he has agreed to become my liaison-officer. And the section-officer has brought to me the first pretender. I, due to credulousness, thought, that hundred dollars for the potential liaison-officer will be quite enough, but he categorically has required six hundred (but I had 520 dollars only in general, and I believed, that it is a large sum, because during the whole first five-week expedition in Nepal I have spent 200 dollars, and the part of the money - 40 dollars - then has been stolen). Naturally, I could not promise 600 dollars, and the claimant No.1 with arrogant aspect has left. The section-officer was dissatisfied, but in some time has brought the claimant No.2. That pretender stubbornly insisted on 600 dollars too (as it was found out later, it was the standard payment for water expeditions). It was necessary to part with the candidate No.2 also.
My Nepalese friend, by the private invitation of which I have arrived to Nepal, became to persuade the section-officer, in every possible way emphasizing, that I am alone, have arrived from the USSR and the sum of 600 dollars is beyond my means. The "persuading" was proceeded for about 3 hours with change of a theme of discussion now to the internal political situation in Nepal, now to the foreign-policy activity of the USSR, have talked about the low salary of the state employees in Nepal... In short, in 3 hours the section-officer has brought to me the young officer of Ministry of Tourism, almost not speaking English. Through my friend it was possible to have made arrangement with him about 11,000 Rupees plus 218 Rupees for his insurance (officially 1 dollar was equal to 33 Rupees), that is it has turned out 340 dollars as a whole. Thus, at me there were 180 dollars left yet. If to live modestly, this money will be enough.
April 3. During a half of day I have been at CIO - tried to receive the permit for trekking in region of Mt.Annapurna (it costs 90 Rupees per a week plus 200 Rupees for the entrance in a national park). Almost everything has been put in order, however the officers have told, that they will give me out the permit at the beginning of May only. During the another half of day I roved through Kathmandu for searches of the detailed maps of Sikkim, Karakoram and region of Mt.Nanga Parbat, but without the special success.
April 4. In the morning we have gone by a bus away from Kathmandu to Jiri. Before departure, at the witnesses, I have given 11,218 Rupees to the liaison officer. Now I owe him nothing, and all charges in the expedition (on meal, spending the night and transport) he will pay himself.
To Jiri we have arrived in the evening - already it has become to darken. I have found a cheap hotel (5 rupees for a bed). Here "dalh-bat" (the rice with a vegetable broth and seasonings) costs 15 Rupees. I have told to the owner of the hotel, that a porter is necessary for me. We made arrangements about that tomorrow in morning he will offer me those who wish.
The liaison-officer does not contact with me practically - either because of ignorance of English, or he considers, that he has the sole function in expedition - in case of a incident with me, to inform the Ministry of Tourism about it.
April 5. During two hours I bargained with potential porters (they wished to receive 200-250 Rupees each per day besides their meal will be their problem). Possessing the experience of the previous Himalayan expedition (when in region of Mt.Makalu we gave to porters 50 Rupees each per day, and 50 Rupees per person "went" for meal daily), I wanted to offer them the such payment, but it was possible only to make arrangements about the variant: "my" meal plus 94 Rupees per day (or rather, 1,600 Rupees for 17 days - to this term I planned to reach in the catamaran up to Wapsa, and there to let the porter go).
At 10 o'clock we set out. The weight of the load was 35-40 kg per each. The porter (to the point, he is not sherpa) carries the package with pipes of the catamaran frame of length of 2.2 m. It is visible, that he is in the quite good physical form. The trail now climbs upwards, now is lowered sharply... It is characteristic for the Himalayas. We have spent the night in settlement Shivalaya on the bank of the small river Khimti Khola.
April 6. From the morning there was the long ascent, then - the large flat site and, at last, the abrupt descent to a stream. We have spent the night before the Likhu Khola River.
April 7. We have crossed the Likhu Khola. In Kenja the police check-post is located (for catching the tourists without permits). Further, almost up to Seti, there is the very abrupt ascent. I crept on it, being drenched in sweat. I had to listen the numerous sarcastic remarks of passing-by white tourists concerning my large load. The porters only carry such rucksacks in local places, and for the white person it is sheer indecently. Anybody from the tourists here has not a rucksack weighing more than 10-15 kg (and many women and some men give to carry to a porter their easy rucksacks even). I hear these jeering replies during three days running. We have finished in Seti. I have got poisoned by something.
April 8. In connection with the bad state of health because of the poisoning, and also as it pestered me to be allocated "indecently" among trekkers, I have decided to employ the second porter up to Namchebazar for carriing by him my rucksack. I have made arrangements with one of local fellows about the payment - 550 Rupees plus a meal for my account. It has become easy to go without a load, there appeared the opportunity (and desire) to associate with the white trekkers. I have got to know the Englishman, American (boy), American (girl) and girl from South Africa. However, my level of English is insufficiently high for free dialogue, and I did not understand much. We have passed Lamjura La Pass (3,530 m). Before it there are the magnificent rhododendron forests. The bright red rhododendron blossoms at such height are looked with the special delight.
On the pass a wind "rinsed" the hundreds of white small rags (this is one of Nepalese traditions, connected with religion). After descent we have crossed the small river Junbesi Khola and have spent the night before Sallung. The prices for meal became to grow. The cost of "dalh-bat" has grown from 15 Rupees (in Jiri) up to 20, and of "Pepsi Cola", "Fanta", "Coca Cola" - according to from 10 (in Kathmandu it was 6 in general) up to 30. Therefore it was necessary to refuse cooling drinks. We used as food only dalh-bat and tea. Such situation for me is habitual - during the whole first Himalayan expedition we with my companion ate dalh-bat and drank tea, as such "complex" is the cheapest food in Nepal. I plan to eat in basic dalh-bat and tea now also, during the second expedition. Such limitation of the menu and cheapness of ration displease the porters, getting used to the richer clients. They wish meat and beer. But it is expensive for me too, and it is necessary to refuse them.
April 9. We have crossed the Beni Khola and after descent have come to the Dudh Kosi in region of Jubing. From here the general direction of the trekking varies from eastern to northern, and the way to Everest further lays along the Dudh Kosi.
I have examined the river near the bridge. There are rapids of 5 and 6 severity grade. The level of water is low, but it is possible to raft. We have spent the night before Kharikhola. Here "Pepsi Cola" is sold already for 40 Rupees.
April 10. Have crossed two smalls river and have reached settlement Surke, laying on banks of the Surke Khola River.
April 11. We have passed Chaumrikharka, whence the trail goes to the airport Lukla, Chaplung. Have crossed the Kusum Khola. After Chhutrawa we have passed on other bank of the Dudh Kosi. Have passed Phakding. In region of Benkar we have returned on the right on the way (but the left orographic) bank of the Dudh Kosi and have spent the night in Monjo in twenty meters before the police check-post. Under the description of Mike Jones (and it is the sole for me source of information about the Dudh Kosi), I am on very abrupt (the slope is about 80 m/km) and probably the most dangerous site of the river. However that, what I see actually, calms me a few: though on the river there are enough rapids of 5 and 6 (maximum) severity grade, but this site as a whole is quite passable, and Mike Jones was mistaken concerning the slope here (as I have counted up over the lines of equal height) it is about 30 m/km. There has appeared the reliance, that I can raft successfully.
April 12. At the police post there have been taken from me 250 Rupees for the entrance to the national park "Sagarmatha" (Nepalese name of Everest). It was perfectly unexpected for me financial "puncture", as yet before Monjo because of high prices for porters and meal I have become to count up the leaving money, which now only at rigid economy could be enough for returning to Kathmandu after the end of the expedition. And this loss of 250 Rupees also... There was no alternative, as in the greatest possible pace to go, go and go - from 6 till 19 o'clock. In Jorsale have left a part of equipment, not necessary for the rafting on the top (shallow) site of route - a part of pipes, spare paddles, spare inflatable pillows, ropes, "carbines", boiler and those 4 cans of a stewed-meat, which I have brought from the USSR. Then went along the river up to the place of falling into the Dudh Kosi of its right tributary Bhote Kosi and, crossing the bridge, have risen to Namchebazar. Here I have parted with the second porter and again became self to carry the rucksack. Further, after Khumjung, we were again lowered to the Dudh Kosi, have crossed the next bridge and on monotonous slope have risen up to the Buddhist monastery Tengboche. I mentally nicknamed this site of the way as "abbey road" (by analogy to the known song of "Beatles"). Here the trail goes already in parallel to the Imja Khola River, but the river is not visible. We have spent the night at Tengboche (3,867 m above a sea level). Here already the dalh-bat cost 30 Rupees, and a bed - 10.
April 13. I have got up, as always, at five and have gone to photograph Everest (8,848 m) and Lhotse (8,516 m) - the first and fourth peaks of the world. The fact is, that usually in the afternoon from clouds Everest is not seen from a distance, and it is possible to see it and Mt.Lhotse (at least, with large probability) in the morning early only. I have made the several photoshoots. We have eaten and set out. Were lowered to the Imja Khola. On the river in region of the bridge there are three impassable rapids. We have passed on the right orographic bank of the Imja Khola, have passed Pangboche. After Tsuro we moved along the Lobuche Khola River. Before Pheriche have passed on the left bank of the Lobuche Khola. Have reached Dughla (4,600 m).
On my map there was shown, that the Lobuche Khola is formed by two streams, flowing down from the left and right wings of Khumbu Glacier. The right begins ostensibly near settlement Lobuche (4,930 m), and the left - higher Dughla. However actually the left creek was only formed at Dughla, and to hear about the right stream, it was necessary to pass on the right wing of Khumbu Glacier and to rise to Lobuche. I have left the porter and load in Dughla and have gone further light. Lobuche is the last populated area on the way to Mt.Everest. Passing on the right wing of Khumbu Glacier, I have seen, that here any stream is not present, and there are snow and ice only. It meant, that the Lobuche Khola River is formed (from thawing ice of Khumbu Glacier) near settlement Dughla (4,600 m). But for the sake of interest I have still reached settlement Lobuche, and then has ascended higher to the height of more than 5,000 m. It has become to darken, it was necessary to be lowered back. From Lobuche, unfortunately, because of the massif Nuptse Mts.Everest and Lhotse are not looked through, but the views of the snow peaks around are sheer amazing. At three hotels of Lobuche there are the high prices for meal products. "Dalh-bat" costs 45 Rupees, and four-Rupee (in Kathmandu) biscuits - 30 (to a word, a bed - 15 Rupees). However here is a lot of tourists-trekkers. Austrians, Swisses, Canadians, Germans...
April 14. Early in the morning I have come back to Dughla. Together with the porter I have collected the catamaran, and the rafting on the Lobuche Khola River was began. The porter carried a rucksack, and I rafted without a load. From Dughla down to Pheriche (4,252 m) the Lobuche Khola represents by itself the shallow small river, strewed with stones. It was necessary many times to carry the catamaran through these stones. Below Pheriche the river enters a canyon. The group of Mike Jones began the kayaking from here.
In April 1991 in the canyon there were many dimensional impassages. However, there were met also the passable water-throw-downs of height of 1.5-2 m. It lasted so up to the falling of the Lobuche Khola into the Imja Khola. From this place the porter and I have brought the catamaran in 2.5 km upwards along the Imja Khola almost up to settlement Dingboche (4,343 m), and I have rafted on this river. To the point, the Imja Khola is born in the lower reaches of Lhotse Glacier, that is it flows down from the massif of 8-km-mountain Lhotse. The top site of the Imja Khola, on which I have rafted, from the point of view of obstacles is similar to the earlier passed Lobuche Khola. After confluence with the Lobuche Khola the "water-consumption" (water-flow) of the Imja Khola has increased, and at the same slope about 45 m/ km the obstacles became steel more dangerous (the separate rapids - of fifth and maximum sixth (tenth American) severity grade), but there were still many dimensional impassages.
I have stopped the rafting today at a distance of kilometre before settlement Shomare. So, the first day of the rafting is behind. Everything goes perfectly.
April 15. I have continued the rafting. After Shomare there are several impassages and rapids of 5 and 6 grade. Before the bridge at Pangboche the river for any time has calmed down in order to rush then into the impassable narrow slot under the bridge. A number of severe rapids (of 5-6 grade) further followed.
Below Pangboche, before three impassable rapids of a fall type in region of the bridge over the Imja Khola, it was necessary to interrupt the rafting, as lower, down to Namchebazar, there was the gorge with a number of dimensional impassages. We have disassembled the catamaran and have made a carrying beyond Namchebazar down to confluence of the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi.
April 16. We have left all things, unnecessary for the rafting, in settlement Jorsale (there, where we left things earlier). Have collected the catamaran near confluence of the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi, and the rafting has continued. From here down to Jorsale on the Dudh Kosi there follow one rapid of 6 severity grade and a number of rapids of 4 and 5 sg. Below Jorsale down to settlement Chumo there is a number of rapids of 5-6 grade. After Chumo there was the impassable rock-choke of large stones. Before the bridge near Benkar - again the rapid of 6 grade. Further, after several obstacles of 4-5 sg, three impassable rapids followed.
After them - a rapid of sixth severity grade. And then there was the quiet site of length of about 1 km. Before Phakding in a severe rapid the log stuck up. We have spent the night opposite to settlement Phakding at tourist camping (payment for a bed - 10 Rupees).
My occurrence with the catamaran has caused at the camping the large interest not only among Nepaleses, but also among the white foreigners. Americans, Germans, Austrians approached to me, were surprised.
April 17. From Phakding down to settlement Ghat a number of rapids of 5 and 6 grades (one of them was very serious near Chhutrawa) and after them (in region Chaumrikharka) the impassable waterfall followed. After about 1.5 km, in the place, approximately appropriate to the projection of the settlement Lukla on the river, I have temporarily stopped the rafting on the Dudh-Kosi, as below this place on the river after 4-meter waterfall there went the waterfall of height of about 7 m and a number of absolutely impassable rapids, formed by large boulders. Below Surke and almost up to Jubing the difficult to reconnoitre site with a plenty of impassable rapids followed. We have disassembled the catamaran and had time to reach Surke, when it has become absolutely darkly.
April 18. At 5.30 the porter has left to Jorsale for left things. In the meantime I have counted money again there remained available only about 1,300 Rupees (I have given 500 Rupees to the porter on the first day of the way as advance payment). It is necessary go up to Jubing in the course of a day about (half-day today and half-day tomorrow) plus the assembly of the catamaran. At the most rigid economy for this time for meal and porter that will take not less than 300 Rupees. It means, that for the porter it remains 1,000 Rupees, and there is possible one variant of payment only - to offer him not 1,600 Rupees for 17 days, but 1,500 - for 15 days (that is the daily payment increases up to 100 Rupees, but the general falls on hundred). At 12 o'clock the porter has come back from Jorsale. I have offered him new variant of payment, he has accepted it with large reluctance. We have rearranged the load and set out. Have reached Kharte, where have stopped for spending the night.
April 19. We have reached Jubing. I have given to the porter relying to him 1,000 Rupees, we ate "dalh-bat", and the money has terminated (even it was not enough for tea). I have decided to sell the photocamera "Smena" (leaving self "Zenit" only). To my huge pleasure, it was possible to make rather successfully for 390 Rupees (in Kathmandu there were suggested 100 only), and the new kapron rope "has gone" for 150. So, there has appeared at me 540 Rupees - it already can be enough (though in the limit) to successfully finish the rafting, to reach up to Taplejung, to have rafted on the Tamur River and from Chatara through Dharan to leave to Kathmandu. I have decided, that if the money will not be enough still, already after the Tamur in Dharan I sell "Zenit" (in Kathmandu for it there were given 1,200 Rupees). I have purchased in Jubing the dry rice for 20 Rupees and 4 small packages with vermicelli (of single use) for 8 Rupees each. My sugar was terminated, but tea-leaf remained very much, so about tea it is not necessary to worry. Besides there were 4 cans of a stewed-meat and half-tin of quickly soluble coffee. The porter and I were lowered to the Dudh-Kosi and have passed some upstream, and then have collected the catamaran. Soon, after his photographing, in parting, of my passage in the catamaran of one of sites of the river, the porter has left - he hastened very much to reach somewhere before the night, and I did not object, as for me in this case it was not necessary to pay for his supper.
Then I have rafted on the Dudh Kosi for about 1 km, besides have passed a few rapids (of 5 and 6 sg), and have moored to the left bank for spending the night. So, now I have remained alone, and in case of any incident - anybody will not help me. Besides the site lower Jubing was not kayaked by Mike-Jones team, which could not reconnoitre this site by a bank, has not decided to make kayaking without preliminary (on foot) investigation and has left to Kathmandu. Then, the truth is, it has flown in the helicopter to Lamidada and has kayaked therefrom on the Dudh Kosi up to the Sun Kosi, but the site lower Lamidada is simple absolutely. But these about 60 kilometres of the river between Jubing and Lamidada for me is complete riddle. It is necessary again to go in style of the first descent. However, for me the such-style rafting will not be for the first time.
April 20. After Jubing on the river there was the number of rapids of 5 and 6 sg. And after 2-3 km lower the bridge the very severe site of the Dudh Kosi began. At the slope about 30 m/km the water-flow has grown sharply (in comparison with the canyons near Namchebazar and Surke), and the river has become extremely dangerous. In case of the heaving of catamaran onto rock it is already easy for the river to have broken this ship. The Dudh Kosi in basic flows in the deep canyon with the vertical and half-vertical walls, the reconnaissance is extremely complicated. I have moored for spending the night before settlement Chhi near the small bridge over the river.
April 21. Early in the morning I have gone for investigation of the canyon below Chhi and subsequent site up to settlement Wapsa. As from the top trail because of dense-bushes and trees it was possible to see a little only, I have decided to go back on riverside of the Dudh Kosi. Because of rocky cliffs, met rather frequently, it was necessary to bypass them on the top - for this purpose it was necessary each time to climb for three hundred meters approximately through a bush or over smooth cliffs. It has taken away many forces and time. Therefore by 18.30 I have not yet reached the camp, though up to it there remained three hundred meters about along the river. The next rocky bluff did not allow me to get quickly into camp - it was necessary again to search a roundabout way. However it has become quickly to darken (from the experience of the previous days I knew, that by 19 o'clock there will come the night). In my order there was only the half of hour of a light day. I from the last forces have started with a jerk upwards - at first on cliffs, then on a crumbling-away. However the time has overtaken me, and at 19 o'clock, when there has become absolutely darkly, I still crept on stones. In darkness I have got over, to the touch, on the next crumbling-away and crept upwards on it, until leant against a vertical cliff, having barred me the way. To the right of it there was the rocky trough, down which it was possible very even easily to roll downwards. And at the left there was the bluff, and in darkness it was impossible to define, whether is the descent down it possible (as it will become clear in the morning of the following day, the descent over ten-meter vertical bluff without a rope was impossible even in the day-time). Before the cliff a small tree grew, and I had to carry out the night, sitting on it. The night was cold, so to sleep it was not possible. In the morning, for getting out on the top trail, it was necessary to be lowered back to the river, to pass along the bank in the opposite from camp direction yet about two hundred meters and after it only to ascend on a trail along a crumbling-away. As during one day I did not eat and did not sleep, have reached the camp with quite clear hope. But here also I have received from a fate the severe click: the bag with my personal things has disappeared. Instead of it the maps and the photographic films were scattered only. I was thoroughly plundered. Only old patched up powder-puff, to my happiness, was thrown on stones. There were stole: the syntepon sleeping bag, mat, jacket, two pairs of woollen socks, two t-shirts, vest, trousers, large polyethylene bags and the heap of petty subjects (in 1990 on the Trisuli River I was robbed - there have stolen the jacket with the passport and money; but so much things all at once - it is for the first time). In consideration of that because of the large weight of equipment I did not take to Nepal a tent, now I should hereinafter sleep on ground in one powder-puff(-jacket) only, and for legs it is necessary to use the gummed bag for a pumping up gondolas.
April 23. The rafting has continued. Below Chhi for 2 km (almost up to Andheri) there were found out a number of rapids of 6 grade, including the three-meter waterfall and also two dimensional impassages. I passed this site without the rucksack (I has brought it ahead - up to Andheri - in the morning). The river, turning temporarily eastward, has calmed down a little, but up to settlement Wapsa there were a few rapids of 5 and 6 sg. On this site there are two bridges, one of which was very low (it was necessary to take catamaran out under it). I have put in for spending the night to the right bank against Wapsa.
April 24. After Wapsa the canyon of length of about 6 km with obstacles of 6 and 5 sg has opened. It extends up to almost before the right tributary Kongu Khola. Then about 4 km away the rapids of 5 severity grade follow. And one kilometre before the left tributary Hinku Khola the rapid-"surprise" expected me. The investigation it is complicated by cliffs as on the right, as on the left banks. At first the river before the large boulder near the right bank is dumped from the right to the left through 2-2.5 meter water-throw-downs, then leans on a cliff of the left bank and, forming powerful track, leaves to the right, behind the same large boulder. What does occur further, from the right bank it is not visible. For investigation it was necessary to spend a few hours (the right bank almost vertically stretched upwards for three hundred meters about), the river was not broken into channels, and wholly after track left behind the right-bank large boulder, and I have risked to go without investigation of the further part of the rapid. And, as it has appeared subsequently, in vain. It was my first (and, I hope, the last) error during the rafting. So, after most powerful 2-2.5 meter water-throw-downs the catamaran have been flung in track... When the boat have doubled a huge boulder near the right bank, I have unexpectedly seen, that further the whole river forces way through the slot of 1 meter width (my catamaran had width of 2.2 m), forming behind it the waterfall of 2 m height. The catamaran has piled on a rock and began to break. Anything other did not remain, how to stand it on a side (besides I was between gondolas) and in such vertical position to pass this slot. After falling from the waterfall the raging flow has torn off me from the catamaran and has pulled out from hands a paddle. In a few meters after the first waterfall there was the second meter slot with one more two-meter waterfall. I have been thrown there. For some time I have plunged in white foam, anything not seeing around, and after falling from the waterfall the current has carried me off under water, and not at once it was possible to emerge. After the coming-up to the surface, I have managed to climb on a large rock and have prepared to jump. In the some time through the second slot the catamaran has been draged, besides breaking one of duraluminium pipes (of diameter of 40 mm and thickness of 2 mm), formed the frame. I have jumped in the direction of the catamaran, has swum up to it and with the help of a spare paddle have put it to the bank already in twenty meters. For the time of the draging of the catamaran through the second slot from it there has broken the rucksack off, which now floated near the ship, connected with it by a piece of a rope.
It was required two hours of repair, so that the catamaran was again ready to navigation. And after 100-150 meters the next two-meter waterfall under a pedestrian bridge waited me. Then the river has calmed down. From the left into the Dudh Kosi its tributary Hinku Khola has fallen, and in a pair of kilometres of the rafting on the quiet river I have put in to the right bank for spending the night. Yes, too many impressions were today - more than it is enough.
April 25. Unfortunately, my misadventures did not terminated. In the morning, carrying the catamaran on stones, I have unsuccessfully loaded the left leg and have overstrained (torn slightly) the cruciform copula of a knee, and I had to spend all day on the same place - I was not capable to move by the ground and, the more so, to raft on the sixth-grade river. Towards evening the pain has calmed down a little bit, and I could straighten the leg. As out of spite, all products terminated, and now it is necessary for one day to eat nothing absolutely (I planned in the afternoon to rise up, to settlements, but now I can not do it). To muffle feeling of hunger, during all evening I drank tea without sugar (much tea-leaf remained at me still). The mood is rotten. I want to home.
April 26. Towards morning the pain in copula has become more silent, and I have decided to raft. After several hundreds meters of quiet water, when there was left less than kilometre up to the falling of the Hongu Khola (the left tributary) into the Dudh Kosi, the river has carried to me the next surprise the waterfall of 3.5 m height. It was possible to pass it only very closely to a cliff of the right bank, as the left part of the waterfall represented the slanting water-throw-down, and the turning over of the catamaran at passage here would be practically inevitable. Because of the trauma of the leg I was not capable to carry my boat around the waterfall, therefore dilemma "to pass or to do not pass through the waterfall" before me did not stand - it was necessary to jump from it. The run over it has come out successful, but here at "landing" on water the catamaran has become to list threateningly, and I had to jump - for balance - on the rising part of the gondol, to sum up everything was finished safely. The catamaran in the normal position rushed along further through water-throw-downs, rollers and "holes". In 150-200 m after the first waterfall there was one more very severe rapid with the 2.5-meter water-throw-downs and "holes". The catamaran was, in the next time, on the brink of turning over, but it was possible to avoid it.
Just after this rapid the Hongu Khola falls into the Dudh Kosi, the blue colour of water is replaced by the yellow-green, and the valley extends. In 4 km about after the Hongu Khola, just after settlement Barhughat, there is one more rapid of maximum severity grade - very long (of 2 km about) with the most powerful 2-2.5 meter water-throw-downs and "holes". But it is not located in a canyon and is reconnoitred by any bank perfectly.
Just after the rapid I have put in to the right bank for spending the night. It would be necessary to believe, that the most dangerous part of the route has remained behind. As far back as this afternoon in one of settlements on the left bank of the Dudh Kosi (already after the falling of the Hongu Khola into it) it was possible to buy potatoes ("alyu" in Nepalese), moreover rather cheap - four kilograms for 25 Rupees, a little rice, salt, and from an angler - two fishes for 5 Rupees. I plan the magnificent supper.
April 27. The river was obviously simplified, and my interest to the rafting begins to vanish. There are a lot of people on the banks. I have reached Lamidada. Now I should pass 40 km on the Dudh Kosi and about 120 km on the Sun Kosi and the Sapt Kosi up to Chatara. It was known beforehand, that on these 160 kilometres there are no rapids of maximum severity grade, therefore I have decided to raft from a morning up to an evening without stops (because for me the Tamur River is ahead). It will take 3-4 days.
I have continued the rafting. Today have passed the multikilometre gorge (the obstacles on water in it were absent). I have seen on the bank the large company of monkeys with white heads (as if they are in the white children's fur hats). The monkeys, having seen me, were frightened, hid themselves behind trees and only have put their faces out from the trees. Don't worry, guys, I shall not offend you!
I have moored for the night after Chiaksi.
April 28. I have got up at 4.30, when only it began to dawn, have eaten becoming for me traditional for the last two days food - the potato skilly and tea without sugar - and at 5.30 set out. Before me a problem stands - to have passed today the distance as big as possible.
In three hours have come in a canyon (obstacles were not in it), and after the output from it before me the wide valley of the Sun Kosi has opened. The Dudh Kosi, falling by yellow-green tributary into the Sun Kosi, is quickly dissolved in its brown waters. The wide powerful river has carried my catamaran eastward. The mood has at once risen. Hurrahl! The rafting on the Dudh Kosi is successfully completed. I made it!
In a pair of hours the joy has passed, as a long monotonous rafting on the wide river is rather melancholy employment. The truth is, time from time there came on the way the rapids of 4 and 5 sg, rather powerful, of jet type, but after the Dudh Kosi they seem frivolous. It was lucky with a wind - only during some time it was counter, and then has calmed down. Once I saw on the left bank the large company of marmosets, but they have not noticed me. For the night have moored after Bhanrh Besi.
April 29. I began the rafting at 5.30. Have put before self the problem - to try today to make up to Chatara. If a counter wind will not be, it is possible. Time from time there were the powerful jet-type rapids of 5 grade, almost without stones, that is the river was not rather dangerous (despite the powerful water-throw-downs and "holes"). For this reason the Sun Kosi is the commercial river and is accessible to the mass rafting.
It was again lucky with a wind - only for some time it flows to my face, and then has ceased to prevent me to raft (moreover, sometimes even was fair). On quiet sites I constantly thought about a meal - wanted to eat terribly. But during all day it should be suffered. I have finished the today's rafting at 18.45 only, when already it has become almost darkly, in Tribenighat - the place, where the waters of the Sun Kosi, Arun and Tamur Rivers incorporate to be called as the Sapt Kosi River. From here up to Chatara there is 1.5-2 hours of the rafting on the quiet Sapt Kosi. In the darkness I have prepared somehow the supper (a skilly with being left potatoes only). To be in time tomorrow to catch the bus, going through Dhankuta to Phedi (so it will be carried out the delivery to the Tamur River), I have decided to get up early (at 3-4 o'clock) and before dawn to go out on water (without a breakfast). Have estimated the finance - it remained less than 400 Rupees; basically (with the account of that the travel from Dharan to Kathmandu costs 155 Rupees), it can be enough even without the sale of "Zenit". Well, I shall try to make so.
April 30. I have got up at 4 o'clock and began the rafting at 4.30 - as soon as it began to dawn. Certainly, some times I was threw water on rollers, but then the river has calmed down. The Sapt Kosi flew in rather deep gorge, and suddenly... the mountains have disappeared (such sharp change of a landscape, seen even the third time, has caused at me the astonishment and joy). The river has run out on plain and has stopped. Six a.m. At the left - settlement Chatara. That's all, the finish. The many-year dream has come true. The rafting down Everest from Khumbu Glacier from the height of 4,600 m up to Chatara (100 m above a sea level) on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi and Sapt Kosi Rivers by extent of 270 km with height difference of 4.5 km is successfully completed! I made it!
I have disassembled the catamaran and then in a jeep have reached Dharan. It cost me 40 Rupees (besides I have given twenty for two bags of luggage). From Dharan already it is possible to leave by direct bus to Kathmandu. But I plan to make it in five days. And now it is necessary to wait the bus, going through Mulghat and Dhankuta up to Phedi, and therefrom, employing a porter for 50 Rupees about per a day, during 2-2.5 days to reach the bridge over the Tamur River near Taplejung and further for 2.5 days to have rafted on the Tamur up to Chatara so that to be in time to catch the bus Chatara-Dharan, leaving at 14 o'clock (the in-it travel costs 10 Rupees, and two luggage bags 10 Rupees too). It goes to Dharan during 1.5 hours about. And therefrom to Kathmandu two buses go at 15.30 and 16.30. If nothing will prevent, on May 6 early in the morning I shall be in Kathmandu. Taking there 1,000 Rupees, which I have left for moving to Delhi, from May 6 till May 11 I shall try to get to region of Mt.Annapurna (8,091 m) for the subsequent uninterrupted rafting on the Marsyangdi River. And already after the rafting I shall sell the camera "Zenit" and for received money I shall reach up to Delhi. My plans are those. I shall try to realize them...
...May 14. Today I have arrived to Moscow. At boarding the aircraft in Delhi it has not done without nervousness: the representative of Aeroflot cancelled my seat for this flight (I was deprived of opportunities to confirm it) and has put me at the end of queue after all twenty (under the list) passengers, having the ticket with open date. So I have departed by miracle - from those "list" twenty the eight persons only have come for registration. I was ninth and the last, who has been took. But am obliged to note, that in the moment, when there was the real threat for me to remain in Delhi with five Rupees in a pocket for uncertain term, the completely unacquainted with me guys from Leningrad, Andrey and Alla, have given me (independently from each other) two English pounds and 100 Indian Rupees - the all money, that they had. And they have given me this money under their initiative, I did not ask them about it. In the aircraft, certainly, I have returned this money to them. To the point, Andrey has turned out to be the very interesting person, he stayed in India under the personal invitation of the dalhai-lama and met him.
The expedition has required from me the complete self-sacrifice in every respect - in moral, physical (to the point, I have got thin in twelve kilograms), material (first of all, financial) and in other. I have given all the best completely and now am squeezed out, as a lemon. There has come some indifference to everything. But the sporting part of expedition (all, that was planned) is carried out for 100 %.
For the first two Himalayan water expeditions I already made raftings down from seven from fourteen 8-km-mountains - Everest (peak No.1), Kanchenjunga (3), Lhotse (4), Makalu (5), Cho Oyu (6), Annapurna (10), Shisha Pangma (14). I plan in the autumn (if there will be the sponsors - for my own money I am not capable already to carry out expeditions) the rafting down Dhaulagiri (7) and Manaslu (8). And hereinafter, if again there will be the sponsors, - from the other 8,000-meter-mountains (in China and Pakistan) also.
I hope for success very much.
DIARY OF THE THIRD HIMALAYAN RAFTING EXPEDITION (NEPAL, INDIA)
August 16, 1991. I have arrived to Kathmandu in the afternoon. As Friday in Nepal is the pre-holiday, and the state institutions finish the work on Friday already by 15 o'clock, naturally, by the time of my arrival to Ministry of Tourism it was closed already.
In general I should arrive to Katmandu not alone. Three persons (two - from Zlatoust, one - from Tver) were going to travel with me yet, but the residents of Zlatoust had the problem with the reception of foreign passports, and the fellow from Tver had no time to change Soviet roubles into dollars. I wait for their arrival on August 30. And one more person, Victor Magritskiy (to a word, one of the sponsors of expedition), should arrive to Kathmandu on September 21 or 28.
August 17. I have visited several travel companies, conducting travellings in Tibet. It has appeared, that the rafting there is forbidden by government of Tibet, and trekking is rather expensive - 150-200 dollars per day for one person.
August 18. As well as in the previous expeditions in Nepal, having paid to Rastra Bank for the permits for the rafting, I have gone to Ministry of Tourism. Yet in May I left there on the table of the section-officer the application for the rafting in August-October and have made arrangements with the liaison-officer, which accompanied with me in April-May, about the co-operation in present expedition also (and for cheaper payment, than 300 dollars, which I had to pay him in the spring). Therefore it seemed, that I for a day can advance in business of registration of the documents. But that's not how it turned out! The section-officer has told me, that his boss (Secretary of Ministry) will be only in two days, on Tuesday, therefore I should come not earlier this term. It is a pity, again it begins the delay of time.
August 19. I have visited the Embassy of Pakistan in Nepal. Have learned, that for the citizens of our country the reception of the tourist visas to Pakistan is free-of-charge. Have not got to Embassy of China.
In the evening, visiting at the hotel "Star" my friends Zaza and Renata Buturishvili, I have learned from them the unpleasant news - the upheaval in the Soviet Union. At first I have not believed and have apprehended the told as a joke. But then, looking at the faces of the friends, I have understood: now they are not for humour. If the democratic newspapers are forbidden, my foreign expeditions can again be under a large question. It is a good thing yet, that I had time to depart from the USSR before the upheaval and shall have leaded at least the present expedition up to the end. But whether will arrive three my comrades on August 30 - whether will they be let out from the USSR?
I have got to know with two strong Polish climbers Alexander Lwow (he is the chief of the expedition on Everest) and Metek (Mechislav) Yarosh (the chief of the Polish expedition on Annapurna). They have expressed me the condolence concerning the events in the USSR.
August 20. Whole Nepal discusses only events in the USSR. At Ministry of Tourism it is taken under doubt the arrival of the Soviet expeditions to Nepal this autumn. In my "business" there is no any progress. The secretary of Ministry had again no time to study my applications.
I have got to know the Polish climber Dariush Petak and the Czech climber Boris Rzhegak. The good guys. They are from the team of Metek.
The information from Moscow is poor. At the USSR Embassy nobody, probably, know anything in earnest (at least, they say so). Nepalese TV and radio, basing on the information of American and English sources, discuss the probability of the murder of Gorbachev. It becomes anxiously.
August 21. My "business" at Ministry of Tourism does not ahead advance. Now the section-officer cannot "catch" the secretary of Ministry, now the secretary has no time to overlook my applications (though this matter is for 15 minutes). Besides it appears, that on August 22-23 in Nepal there will be any festival and, automatically, holidays, and on August 24 - Saturday (that is again a holiday). It cannot don't irritate. You see, I was going till August 30 (before the arrival of my friends yet) to have rafted singly the Buri Gandaki, running down Mt.Manaslu (but for the delivery on foot and the rafting it is necessary 8-10 days about). Now my plans fall to pieces.
I visited the Embassy of China. I learned about the opportunity of direct reception of permits for trekking in Tibet without the intermediary mission of tourist firms. No, by such way the Embassy does not give the permits - it is not profitable, as I understand (you see, the tourist firms obviously "share" the incomes with the Embassy), moreover the care for the tourists is supplied.
In the afternoon I have got to know (with helping of Metek Yarosh) the well-known Polish climber-woman Wanda Rutkevitch (the ascents of eight 8-km-peaks lie behind her). Nowadays in her plans there are the ascents of Cho Oyu and Annapurna. And in the evening I conversed with Kshishtof Vilicky, who subdued already seven 8-km-peaks, moreover four of them including Everest, Kanchenjunga and Lhotse - in winter. In these days he conducts the expedition on Annapurna.
August 23. Under some messages, the new revolution in the USSR has been not crowned with success, and counter-revolution (headed by Eltsin) has won. It is the encouraging fact. And again whole Nepal discusses this news.
August 25. At last the holidays came to its close. But because of the lack of the secretary of Ministry, everything remains in the old way.
August 26. At last in my business "the ice has begin to drift" - the secretary of Ministry of Tourism has accepted the decision, that the person from NARA (Nepalese Association of professional rafters-guides), instead of one from Ministry of Tourism (as it was earlier), will be the liaison-officer in my expedition. The news is rather unpleasant, because there was already the arrangement with the liaison-officer of my previous expedition (the rafting down Everest), that he in the same quality will be in new my expedition already for 200 dollars, and how many will require the person from NARA - it is not known.
August 28. I have met the future liaison-officer from NARA. I have made arrangements with him about the same sum (200 dollars approximately). Thank goodness, at least in a financial question I have not lost. Now practically everything is going smoothly, but now already there is no sense to leave from Kathmandu earlier August 31, as on August 30 three our fellows should arrive, moreover with a new catamaran (for the last years my catamaran was very frayed).
August 30. All formalities are completed, in my hands there are the permits for rafting. However the new impact expected me - anybody from my company has not arrived. At "Star" there has appeared only the climber from Kazakhstan Sergey Ovcharenko (which I got to know in the spring yet) with the friends. They have in the plans for 1992 Mt.Makalu, while not passed yet by anybody from the USSR.
I have got to know with David Allardice - the participant of the rafting on the Indus in 1990 in body of British expedition. He has told me about the Indus and Braldu.
September 1. The start of expedition. I have gone away with the liaison-officer in the regular bus from Kathmandu to Gorkha. The first river planned for rafting - the Buri Gandaki (it run down Mt.Manaslu). In Gorkha I made arrangements with a porter about the cost of his service - 100 Rupees per day plus "my" food (that is I pay for the food and spending the night of the porter). The porter carries the pipes of frame of the catamaran and gondolas, I carry everything else (weighting about 35-40 kg). We have stopped for the night behind settlement Sonwara. During all evening it rained.
September 2. We have reached Aarughat. For the last 8-10 km it was necessary to go along a stream, constantly passing from one bank onto another, and on the stream, sometimes up to the waist in water. I have injured the knee of the left leg again. I had to go, overcoming pain. Before Aarughat I have seen the Buri Gandaki. Now, in the monsoon time, on it the flood. The Buri Gandaki represents itself the powerful river of brown colour. Now the on-foot delivery will be upwards along it. For all evening it was raining again.
September 3. In 3 km after Aarughat, in small settlement Simre, the porter suddenly has declared, that his leg is injured and he can't go further - the replacement of him is necessary. But as in Simra the porters were not, it was possible to persuade our porter to pass yet 3 km up to the large settlement Arket. He made it, limping very much, and has categorically refused to go farther Arket. And the local porters, estimating the vulnerability of my situation, have demanded from me 200 Rupees per a day, that for me was expensive too (after the payment of money to the liaison-officer and the payment for the permits it remained at me in all 130 dollars only - for the carrying out the 1.5-month's travelling through Nepal and India and the rafting on eight rivers!). The liaison-officer has offered to begin to raft from here (from Arket), but I considered, that it is necessary to start above. Suddenly my porter has offered the variant: he will carry the load during two days, but only for 150 Rupees per a day (you see, he is injured). It was nothing to do, I have agreed. But the most interesting was ahead. In a hour of walking the porter has forgotten about his trauma and has rushed along so quickly, that I could not overtake him. My companion turned out to be artful. We have spent the night in settlement Alma. It rained again. The trail has turned in a drain-trench. For whole day we went on water.
September 4. I have overlooked the river up to Doban. I have decided to begin the rafting from town-ship Tatopani ("Hot water") - here is the thermal source. It was very pleasant to have a hot shower. The rain does not stop. I was attacked by leeches - "dzyukas". In the evening the legs were bled a long time ("dzyukas" enter in the person body the substance, interfering to coagulation of blood).
September 5. In the morning I have reconnoitred the site up to Jagat. I began the rafting from Tatopani. I made the carrying over three impassable (in large water for catamaran) rapids after Kholabensi, Khaeigaon and at the distance of two kilometres lower Labubesi. The river is powerful. The fact is, that the maximum quantity of the rain precipitation in Nepal drops out in August and at beginning of September, and the "peak" of the monsoon is at the end of August. So I have got on the Nepalese river at the largest water.
September 6. I have continued the rafting. The basic obstacles from Alma up to Arutar - the rollers of 2.5-3 m height and the powerful "holes" of depth of up to 2.5 m. Unfortunately, before Arket there has taken place an incident. The fact is, that originally (being in the USSR) I was going in this expedition to raft in the new catamaran, and only at the last moment (as with me on August 16 the fellow from Tver has not gone, which just should grasp with self the new catamaran) I have come back to the old catamaran, the frame of which and also strings and the rubber linings for pipes were in Kathmandu at my friend Ram. But I have forgotten, that in Kathmandu the rubber linings remained twice less, than it is necessary. And I found out it before the departure to Gorkha only. Therefore it was necessary to assemble the frame of the catamaran for the rafting on the Buri Gandaki at shortage of linings. As a result at the rafting on this river before Arket, getting in the system of the most severe 3-meter rollers and the powerful "holes", my catamaran began to fall apart into two parts. Finding myself in water, I have thrown away the paddle and have seized by hands the both halves of the catamaran (each half corresponded to each gondol), preventing their final separation. In such position I had for several kilometres to pass rapids of 5 and 6 severity grade. 2.5-meter rollers covered me over the head, I fell into two-meter "holes" and for a few seconds left under water. It continued so during several minutes. The water was very cold, and I have terribly frozen. Forces have begun to leave me.
Eventually I was lucky. On a quiet site it became to wash me ashore to the left bank, and I succeeded in mooring to it. It happened before Aarughat already. The catamaran represented itself a pitiful sight. A few pipes and spare paddle were lost.
September 7. The day has passed for the binding of the new frame in Aarughat and the preparation of the catamaran for rafting, and also for small rest - I didn't want to leave for the rafting on the unknown river in the evening almost (as at 18.30 it's growing dark). Unfortunately, the pipes for the paddle did not remain, and the liaison-officer succeeded in getting of a straight stick of 1.5-meter length only, therefore the new paddle has turned out very short. Besides in the morning the all my kapron ropes have been stole. Because of this it was necessary to use for the binding of the catamaran frame the paper strings partly (the others were not in Aarughat), which (and it was obvious) in one hour of rafting will begin to snap. I have firmly decided after the rafting on the Buri Gandaki to come back to Kathmandu for pipes, ropes, rubber linings and strings. But now it was nothing to do. Now I should raft with the rucksack (the money for a porter was not already). During the preparation of the catamaran for the rafting the huge crowd - a hundred persons about - has surrounded me. It was obvious, that for this locality the rafting on the river is the bizarre matter.
September 8. I have rafted from Aarughat to the mouth of the Buri Gandaki, where it falls into the Trisuli River. The rafting has turned out very unpleasant: the paddle was too short and very uneffective, the paper ropes become to snap already in 10-15 minutes, and I was afraid, that the catamaran will fall apart again. But, fortunately, the severity of obstacles did not exceed the fourth grade, and I managed to reach the mouth of the river.
September 9. I have met in Benighat (it is beside the mouth of the Buri Gandaki, on the road Kathmandu-Delhi) the liaison-officer and have left him here with all things for 2 days. We made arrangements, that on September 11 in the afternoon he will be ready with the rucksack and pipes to get to me on the bus Kathmandu-Pokhara, in which I shall go and which I shall specially stop in Benighat. And I got on the bus to Kathmandu, where I have reached late in the evening.
September 10. This is the day of the purchases (strings, rubber linings, partially kapron ropes) and the getting (the same ropes). I have got to know the several Soviet climbers. As the very little money is left at me, I have decided to ask the kapron rope of 30-40 meter length at the compatriots. The team of Balyberdin (going to Everest) just now (I have been a hour literally late) has taken to the airport the whole equipment, and its ropes at hotel did not remain. Misha Mozhaev (going to Cho Oyu and, probably, Annapurna) gave me the several-meter cord.
The team of Vasiliy Senatorov (going to Annapurna) presented the 30 m rope. In general, the climbers have helped. I have purchased something from the local dealers, and the spare duralumin pipes were kept at my friend home.
September 11. In the morning I have gone away to Pokhara. In Benighat the bus has been replenished by my rucksack, pipes and the liaison-officer. Because of the several breakages of the bus we have arrived to Pokhara in the late evening.
September 12. In the morning in a taxi (buses did not go because of the next religious holiday) we have reached up to Phedi. Here I have employed the next porter (at the price of 85 Rupees per day plus "my" meal), and in the passing lorry we have reached Lumle. We have passed three kilometres from here up to Chandrakot and have got on the Modi River (running down Annapurna) the second river planned for rafting. We have reached settlement Fonda. Again I have strongly been bitten by "dzyukas". And again time from time the monsoon watered.
September 13. I have rafted on the Modi from Fonda almost up to the mouth - to Kusma. The river, to my pleasure, is less full-flowing, than the Buri Gandaki, but steep-falling enough. Near Chamurkong there were the extremely dangerous rapids. Before Kusma, pleading pain in stomach, the porter has refused to go further. It was necessary to replace him by other. Now there is ahead the going on foot to the third river of my travelling - the Myagdi (running down Mt.Dhaulagiri).
September 14. We have reached settlement Singa on the Myagdi. From Kusma we went at first along the Kali Gandaki upstream (here also it will be - in near future - necessary for me to raft). On this site the Kali Gandaki is the rather simple river, the most severe obstacles are of 4 sg. The "trained rearrangement" has taken place again. The porter, carrying the pipes and gondolas from Kusma, has suddenly declared, that it is heavy to him to carry a load, and has found to self substitute - the young and strong fellow. The truth is, beginner has agreed to accompany me only for 100 Rupees per a day plus "my" meal. But he became to go much faster than the previous porter.
In Singa I have got to know Ken Pumford - the American, already for two years teaching in Nepal in settlement Beni (through which we today passed). He is in love with Nepal and Nepaleses.
September 15. We have reached Sibong. It is two kilometres before Mattim - the place of the beginning of my rafting on the Myagdi. The trail to Phedi (it was already the second Phedi on my way) went along the Myagdi and then has climbed upwards.
September 16. I have rafted on the Myagdi from Mattim to Babichor. It has fluttered me hardly. Some times I was on the brink of turning over. My rafting evokes the genuine interest at Nepaleses. Here obviously anybody did not raft earlier. The Myagdi is the rather powerful river, is closer in a power to the Buri Gandaki, than to the Modi. However in the middle of September the monsoon period comes to an end, it rains already much less often, than half-month back, and the level of water in the river begins slowly to fall down.
September 17. I have rafted on the Myagdi up to the mouth (settlement Beni). Having disassembled the catamaran, we have reached settlement Rahughat and the mouth of the Rahughat Khola River, the fourth (under the plan of the rafting) river, running down also Dhaulagiri.
September 18. We made the delivery on foot up to settlement Damdam. Then I have rafted on the Rahughat Khola River up to its mouth. It is narrow and shallow small river, similar to the Modi in its average current. It flows in basic in the canyon-shape gorge. There was the large problem of launching of the catamaran from the trail to the river. There is a lot of stones and boulders in a channel (that is not characteristic, for example, for the Buri Gandaki and Myagdi). We have begun the delivery on foot along the Kali Gandaki upstream and have reached Ranipauwa.
September 19. We have finished the delivery along the Kali Gandaki up to the mouth of the Miristi River, steep-falling down Annapurna. It is 2-3 km higher Tatopani, the second on the route. Here, on the popular tourist trail to Jomosom, the hot spring is "cultural" - the pool is constructed, the kiosk with "Coca Cola", "Pepsi Cola" and other is established. In the pool three pairs of the foreign tourists had a rest. But, unfortunately, I had not time to join up with them. I began the rafting from the mouth of the Miristi and have rafted to Beni. The rapids higher than of 5 sg were not.
September 20. I have paid off with the porter and further have gone alone. From Beni I have become to raft on the Kali Gandaki with the rucksack. The last, naturally, reduces the manoeuvrability and stability of the catamaran. I went without the reconnoitre. It was promoted this the fact, that the river has become more simple (not more severe than of 4 sg) and more wide. Therefore I could beforehand leave from the dangerous pressers. I went without rest during all day and have finished the rafting behind settlement Ridi at 18 o'clock, when already it has become to darken. I have got tired terribly. However tomorrow the not less difficult day of the rafting without rest will be. It is necessary to try to reach the Trisuli River.
September 21. I have got up at four a.m., in a hour already was on the water. I went during all day with the minimum short stops. On the Kali Gandaki (on the site from Ridi to its falling into the Trisuli) there are only two more-less severe rapids - a few kilometres before Ramdighat (where is the automobile bridge) the rapid of 4 sg and near Devghat (on the last kilometres of the Kali Gandaki) - of 3 (3-4) sg. The other obstacles are quite simple. I have finished on the Trisuli River (before Narayanghat) late in the evening.
September 22. Early in the morning in the passing bus through Mugling I has reached Dumre, and then in a lorry - up to Besisahar. From here it has gone the on-foot delivery to the upper waters of the Marsyangdi, running down Annapurna. This delivery goes along the river. I have employed the porter on 90 Rupees per day plus "my" meal. I already have passed the Marsyangdi partially in the previous expedition. Now I want to get higher. Today we have reached almost up to Dharapani.
September 23. We have reached the bridge near Braga (before Manang). From here I began the rafting and have reached Ghyaru.
September 24. We have carried over the gorge near Pisang and before Bagarchhap. I have rafted from Bhratang to Kodo and from the mouth of the Dudh Khola to Nachaygaon. We have carried over the gorge before Tal up to Chamje.
September 25. I have continued the rafting from Chamje. In Khudi I have paid off with the porter and have continued the rafting with the rucksack already. Before Phalenksangu there are the enough interest rapids (of 5 sg). I have spent the night just after the left tributary Chhangdi Khola (two kilometres before Bhote Odar). Tomorrow again the race will be - it is necessary to finish the rafting on the Marsyangdi.
September 26. I have got up at 5 o'clock, in a hour already was on the water. During all day went, almost not mooring to the bank. Only in region Markichok it was required to go in a lorry on the road round the dam on the Marsyangdi. I have finished in Mugling at 18 o'clock. I had to disassemble the catamaran already at night. Almost at twelve p.m. the liaison-officer and I have got on the bus to Kathmandu.
September 27. We have arrived to the capital in the morning. And only then, when I have got "home" (that is to my friend Ram, at which always stayed in Kathmandu), I have allowed self at last to relax. It - after the month of the continuous running, wild tension, continuous work from 5 a.m. till 20 o'clock daily. I was full of wild joy. You see, I have passed all rivers, which wanted to pass in Nepal. In the first expedition it were the Barun, Arun, Bhote Kosi, Sun Kosi and Trisuli, in the second the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Tamur and Marsyangdi, in the third - the Buri Gandaki, Modi, Myagdi, Rahughat Khola, Kali Gandaki and Marsyangdi. I "have closed" for self Nepal!
I have visited the hotel "Star". No, Magritskiy on September 21 has not arrived to Nepal. It means, that the planned by me at the end of September rafting on the Tamur together with Magritskiy will not be held (I was rafted singly on this river already). I have called at Ministry of Tourism and have informed, that the rafting on a number of the rivers has been successfully finished, and I refuse the Tamur. After it I have decided to hear from the Soviet climbers (if I shall find out them in Kathmandu), how is the matter with the Soviet and Polish expeditions on Annapurna, Cho Oyu and Everest. I have got to know the famous Soviet climber Vladimir Shataev, coming back just now from the South Wall of Annapurna. He has told me, that there are not present already any Polish expeditions, but there is the team of Vasiliy Senatorov only. It is strange! Where have the teams of Metek Yarosh and Kshishtof Wilicky got? Shataev has told, that he has the maps of Karakoram and can give me them in Moscow. As he tomorrow will depart to Moscow, I have transferred him the letter for my father. A little later I have got to know another famous Soviet climber Nikolay Cherniy (to a word, I am amazed with modesty of such world-known climbers, as Shataev and Cherniy). The last one has told, how he transported Wanda Rutkevich after her trauma on Mt.Elbrus. Now Nikolay is going on Annapurna. If there will not be a success from the southern direction, he will climb from the north.
For all day I went in raised mood. Though it was excited, whether will arrive Magritskiy tomorrow (and it already will be his last possibility to arrive). And it is time to begin the preparation for the finishing stage of the present expedition - the Tista River (running down Kanchenjunga) in Sikkim and Western Bengalia (India).
September 28. Alas, Magritskiy has not arrived. But today is Saturday, and the Embassy of India is closed.
September 29. Sunday. The Embassy is closed. At me already everything is ready for departure to India, except the presence of the entrance visa.
September 30. In the morning I have handed over to the Embassy of India the passport and the form. I have asked so that by 15 o'clock the visa will have been put (you see, the buses to Kakarbhitta, on east frontier of Nepal and India, leave at not late 16 o'clock, but my Nepalese visa tomorrow comes to the end). At 15.15 I have received the passport with the Indian visa, have taken a taxi, have come "home" for the rucksack and pipes and have gone to the bus-station. I was in time to catch the bus to Kakarbhitta.
October 1. I have arrived to Kakarbhitta in the afternoon, have quickly passed all frontier and custom formalities and have appeared in India. In a jeep together with heaps of bags with lemons I have reached Siliguri in Western Bengalia. Have hardly found the more-less cheap hotel - in towns of India the prices for hotel (in regard to Nepalese) rather high.
October 2. As I had not the permit for visiting Sikkim (and the more so, for the rafting in it), I have decided for the beginning to have rafted on the lower part of the Tista River, running in Western Bengalia (here the permits are not necessary). On the map the first settlement on the Tista in Western Bengalia was Kalimpong. Therefore early in the morning I have got with all things on the bus, going up to it. However a few kilometres before Kalimpong on the bridge over the Tista (Tista Bridge) the not very pleasant surprise waited me - the police check-post. It has appeared, that around of Kalimpong there is the national park, and all foreigners, visiting these places, are registered. It has become to be, in Western Bengalia I can begin the rafting only below Tista Bridge. But I still visited Kalimpong. The road from the bridge creeps upwards and only upwards. The places are beautiful astonishingly. The unprecedented by me earlier trees and plants were met. The mood improved appreciably. Then in the bus I have come back and after Tista Bridge began the rafting on the river. It here is simple (of 2-3 sg). I have spent the night on the right bank.
October 3. I have continued the rafting on the Tista and have finished it after Coronation Bridge and settlement Sivok, when the river has left on plain. There remained a few kilometres down to the frontier of India and Bangladesh.
October 4. I have come back to Siliguri and have gone to Sikkim Agency. I succeeded in receiving the permit for visiting this state. But for receiving the permission for the rafting there, it is necessary to appeal to Department of Tourism of Sikkim in Gangtok.
October 5. Early in the morning I has gone away in a bus to Gangtok. On the border of Western Bengalia and Sikkim in settlement Rangpo there is the double check of the passport and the Sikkim permit. I have reached Gangtok in the afternoon. It is the very beautiful town - many-tiered. In basic in Sikkim Nepaleses live. The level of their life obviously is higher, than in the mountain regions of Nepal. Here the people dress in the European way completely. I went to Department of Tourism of Sikkim. Therefrom I was sent to firm "Advay Tours and Travells" to Mr.Chetri. Just this firm carries out the rafting of the tourists on the Tista in Sikkim (the cost of the two-day rafting is 100 dollars per person).
Mister Chetri has treated me with understanding and promised to prepare to me the free-of-charge (or for a small cost) permit for the rafting on the Tista from Makha to Rangpo. He has told me to come tomorrow. Therefore I have decided to make a trip to Phodong. On the one hand, there is the known Buddhist temple. On the other hand, the hotel and meal are much cheaper, than in Gangtok.
October 6. Having examined early in the morning the temple, I have come back to Gangtok. Mister Chetri has informed, that the permit for me is ready. But he had for me one condition: on October 8 I shall take participation in the ceremony of opening of the tourist-rafting season in Bardang on the Tista River. In this festival the Main Minister of Sikkim State (that is the chief of the state) will participate. I have agreed. We made arrangements, that I shall arrive to Bardang on October 7-th in the evening. Having received the permit for the rafting on the Tista from Makha to Rangpo, I already late in the evening have reached Singtam, located on the bank of the Tista.
October 7. Early in the morning I have gone away to Makha (it was 15 km to this settlement). The road went along the Tista. The rapids on the river did not exceed 4 severity grade, therefore I could raft on the Tista without a stop. I began the rafting from Makha and have overcome 30 km up to Rangpo by 15 o'clock. Unfortunately, I have passed by (leapt over) the boundary (between Western Bengalia and Sikkim States) small river (the left tributary of the Tista) and have found myself in Western Bengalia State. I had to leave on the bank the catamaran and almost all things and to come back to Sikkim, having overcome the small-river-tributary (partially by swimming, partially by fording).
At 17 o'clock I have appeared in Bardang. And as I have appeared there without my catamaran, I was offered to become the member of crew of the large raft, brought by two Nepalese guides-professionals from Nepal. We should tomorrow have rafted on the Tista before the Main Minister of State. And now I have been offered together with the other members of the crew of the raft (two guides from Nepal and the guides-professionals from Sikkim) to carry out the training rafting from Bardang to Rangpo. I have agreed with pleasure. At once we have sailed away, and a comedy began. Seven perfectly not "co-ordinated" persons did their business just anyhow, therefore we caught all "holes" on the Tista. And in the "holes" there began the mass "plague" the tumbling out of the raft of the members of crew or, at the best, the loss of paddles. After two-three rapids of 4 sg there were overboard five persons - the all, excepting me and the captain of the raft (Nepalese). However the last one has managed to lose one of two oars. From six lost paddles five have been caught subsequently. All having dropped out overboard members of crew have climbed then back, and we have safely finished in Rangpo. And as I have become the member of crew of the raft, being the basic sight of tomorrow holiday, I have been fed free-of-charge (moreover very tasty - for the first time in the last month I have sampled meat dish) and have been given a sleeping bag and a place in tent.
October 8. In the morning I have been fed (again free-of-charge). Then I have drawn the posters with the image of means of rafting, used by tourists-rafters in the USSR. And at 10 o'clock the ceremonies of the holiday began. Before us the Main Minister of State has spoken. I have been seated among the honourable visitors in the first row. With an answer-back speech the kayaker-girl from New Zealand has spoken (four girls from this country participated in the holiday). And then we in the raft and four girls in kayaks in solemn march have passed by the chief of the state and have followed further to Rangpo. As against the yesterday's training rafting, anybody today was not tumbled out overboard and did not lose paddles. In Rangpo, at Branch of Department of Tourism of Sikkim, we have been fed substantially and tasty (and again - free-of-charge).
Then I have left the hospitable Sikkim State. From stay in it there remained the wonderful impression. Having taken away the left on the bank of the Tista things, I have departed to Siliguri, where have spent the night at the bus station.
October 9. I have tried to leave in the afternoon train to Delhi. However I was able only to reserve and redeem the ticket (of the second class) for tomorrow's morning. Fortunately, the money was enough for the ticket (though flush).
I have spent the night at the railway station.
October 10. I have set off by train to Delhi with the delay of 8 hours.
October 11. Covering a half of the country, I have arrived to capital of India at 21 o'clock. As tomorrow in the morning my aircraft to Moscow will take off, I have at once gone to stay the night to the international airport Delhi.
October 12. By aircraft of Aeroflot I has arrived from Delhi to Moscow. That's all! The travelling was finished. The third Himalayan water expedition is completed.
Thus, I already have rafted down from nine 8-km-peaks - Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Annapurna and Shisha Pangma. Next - four Karakoram 8-km-peaks (headed by Mt.Chogori) and Himalayan Nanga Parbat. But it in Pakistan and China already. Now I begin to prepare for expedition in Pakistan. I plan to have rafted on the Bunar, Braldu and Indus Rivers.
RAFTING IN PAKISTAN (June 1992)
Our (my and Nikolay Melentyevs) adventures (more exact, the misadventures) have begun long before that as at the beginning of June 1992 the aircraft of Pakistani airlines PIA, aboard which we have risen in Tashkent, has arrived to Islamabad. In basic they were connected with the financial problems: because of them we had for 1.5 months to move the beginning of expedition. At last, Boeing-737 has delivered us to capital of Pakistan.
However the tourist firm, with which we had the preliminary arrangement, "has changed it's mind" to serve us and has transferred me and Nikolay to another firm - "Walji's Adventure Pakistan". However, we needed from tourist firm in two services only - the help in "paper" business and the giving a guide. To sum up we have received the guide of cost of 33 dollars per a day.
The first impressions from Islamabad were of dual character. On the one hand, it is the beautiful town, precisely planned for districts with through numbering, in it there are enough greenery, modern houses. On the other hand, the relation to not-Moslems (and the more so, Russians - all Pakistanis remember Afghanistan, and many were there at war in volunteer groups against "incorrects") here is not warmest. Frequently there are met the women in veils.
After the two-day staying in Islamabad we have moved to Karakoram. However here were the new complications. The region between Besham and Gilgit has become the arena of furious collisions between the "sunnits" and "shiits" - the supporters of two Moslem directions (and majority of the population here is the "sunnits"). There were killed a few dozens of people. The avia-route Islamabad-Gilgit was canceled, the bus on this route has ceased to go. The whole flow of the passengers was switched to the avia-route Islamabad-Skardu (namely to Skardu we should arrive at first). The tickets for this flight for the foreigners were not for 10 days ahead, and for our guide - for a month. Therefore we have decided at first to reach up to Besham (where buses went) and then to make the attempt to break in any car through this "hot" region to Skardu. Our guide was the "shiit" and, naturally, did not want to go through this region, offering to raft on the rivers in other places of Pakistan, but the region of Skardu (Baltistan) suited him quite as it is the "shiit" territory.
Getting in Besham and not having (on words of our guide) opportunity to break to Skardu, we have decided for the beginning to have rafted on the Indus down to Thakot, and then to come back to Besham and to expect the passing automobile.
The rafting on the Indus has turned out to be unusual owing to the huge (a few thousands cubic meters per a second) water-flow in it here in June. It was possible to bypass the large rollers (of up to 3-3.5 m height), only exerting the huge powers because of the significant width of the river. The rafting has liked. Then we have come back to Besham.
After our returning the guide has informed, that there is the opportunity to employ a car up to Skardu (and "cheaply" - only for 130 American dollars), and other such opportunity for the nearest days will not be. Though the price of travel confused, but it was nothing to do. It was necessary to agree.
The following day in the morning at 3 o'clock we set out. Since Sazin there were the numerous police-check-posts, where our passport data were taken out. In the region of Raikot the policeman has told to our driver to go faster up to the bridge over the Gilgit River. It was expected, that for nearest hours the road will be blocked. In the evening we have arrived to Skardu.
The next day has left in order to rent a jeep for the trip to the Braldu River higher Hoto (before Askole) and to buy some products. We have examined the local fort, towering above the Indus. In the morning of the following day we have unloaded the catamaran in the region of Hoto. However we have arranged the base camp much below - in settlement Apoligon, named by the name of the old man, which has created here the irrigation structures and has transformed this place in oasis (on Pakistani standard, this settlement owed therefore refer to as Apoligonabad, but everyone call simply Apoligon). In the region of Hoto on the Braldu there are the most dangerous rapids, and a little lower the river rushs into the narrow (of three meter about width) slot of length of about 200 m. Just here one Englishman in 1991 was lost, when, turning over higher with stream, could not moor to the bank before this slot. I do not know exactly, but think, that another Englishman - the famous Mike Jones - was lost in 1978 here. The slot, naturally, was impassable for our catamaran. But after it there were the normal rapids of the maximum severity grade. In basic it were the powerful 2.5-meter water-throw-downs, "holes", rollers. And it lasted so until the left tributary of the Braldu in two kilometres about below Apoligon. For the passage of these rapids it was required three days. To the point, in Apoligon there was the curious acquaintance with the Pakistani soldier at the army check-post. He is the former "Afghan", was at war, naturally, against "incorrect" Russians in the voluntary group. This one alerted us already, however the soldier has turned out to be rather hospitable - treated us with tea, meat, and in parting has handed to us two cans of butter, prepared specially for the army of Pakistan (on tin was written so). The butter has turned out to be rather tasty. From the soldier we have learned, that his salary is 2,500 Rupees (100 dollars) per a month. It is necessary to serve for 15 years, after that he will receive the pension grant in the size of more than 1 million Rupees (more than 40,000 dollars). The holiday for two months each year is the customary thing. His wife, naturally, lives in his house on the native land (he sees her during holiday only). For the children of military men the education is free-of-charge, and the cost of the medical help is small.
After that as in 2 km lower Apoligon the river was simplified a little, the rate of our moving has increased. And on the Braldu, before the confluence of it with the Shigar, there were yet three rapids of the fifth severity grade, rather powerful in large June water.
The Shigar River at first rather peacefully carried its waters south-east, however before settlement Haiderabad has unexpectedly burst by the powerful rapid of 4-5 severity grade. However, hereinafter, down to the falling of it into the Indus, on the Shigar the obstacles were not. We have safely fallen into the Indus and have moored to its left bank.
At the hotel in Skardu there was the surprising meeting with the members of the Russian-American climbing expedition on Mt.Chogori (K-2) Lena Kulishova (the organizer) and Yura Stefanovskiy (the expedition doctor). The chief of expedition Vladimir Balyberdin was at that time in Islamabad. The singularity of the situation was in that Baltistan (however, as well as whole Jammu and Kashmir State, as Pakistan had robed India of this territory) was considered by the Indian and Soviet governments as territory of India exclusively (it is enough to look at the maps, published in these two countries). Therefore the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give the permission for the visiting this region by the Soviet climbers, though in Karakorum there are four 8-km-peaks (Chogori, Broad-Peak, Gasherbrum-1 and Gasherbrum-2). In this state there is located also the fifth (truth is, Himalayan) 8-km-mountain Nanga Parbat. One Soviet climber only succeeded in body of the international expedition to break to Karakoram. I and Nikolay were here the second and third persons from the former-USSR. And now there was a surprise - five Russian climbers arrive to Skardu all at once. Besides it has appeared, that the birthday of Yura is today. So we have celebrated this birthday a little.
Now we should have rafted on the Bunar River, into which there falls the Diamir River, running from Diamir Glacier at the foot of Nanga Parbat. On the last 10 km from the mouth of the Diamir River to the Indus the slope of the Bunar is very large - about 50 m/km. The truth is, the water-flow is small, but it is possible to raft here in June (in spring and in autumn hardly). The river represents itself the continuous rapid of 5-6 severity grade with the powerful water-throw-downs and "holes", strong heaving onto stones.
There was arose the problem again. As the Bunar flows in the region of tension between the "shiits" and "sunnits", our guide has refused to go there together with us. It was necessary to change the strategy of passage of the river. We have decided to drive from Skardu to Gilgit in the regular-route bus, not disassembling the catamaran, and there to rent a van, to reach in it with the assembled catamaran up to the Bunar mouth, further as far as it is possible to bring it upwards on the trail along the river, to have rafted on the Bunar during one day and then to raft on the Indus. And we made so. The Bunar has appeared the rather severe river, and at the end of it (twenty meters before the Indus) there was the three-meter pass between the large stones with the waterfall of height of 2 m about.
After the fast Bunar the Indus, as at first it seemed, was more slow river. However the huge (a few thousands cubic meters per a second) June Indus water-flow have produced the great impression on us. There were (especially in the pressers) the large rollers (of up to 4 m height) and "holes". It was necessary to bypass them.
After the Indus I had desire to go on the Kishanganga River yet, but the guide has become to resist to this, declaring that the special permission is necessary for visiting there, though before our trip in the car to Skardu he offered me this river. In addition Nikolay did not want to go to the Kishanganga. Therefore I had to agree with them, and we have gone at once to Islamabad.
As the money was running out, we had to ask the guide to find for us a cheap hotel in Rawalpindi - the old town near Islamabad, poorer and cheaper. The guide has kept his promise to arrange us at the hotel, not more expensive than 40 Rupees per day for a room for two persons. However already in 3-4 hours after that, as he has left, the owner of the hotel has offered us to leave it, as he, ostensibly, has not the rights to accept the foreigners. Unfortunately, nearby anything was not found cheaper than the hotel, where it was required 80 Rupees for a room. It was expensive for us too, but we were compelled twice to stay the night at it, untill the manager of "Walji's Adventure Pakistan" has suggested to us, that near his office the camp for foreigners is located. This camp has appeared for us a gift of fate. The daily cost in it in nature's lap (not in a house) is three Rupees only. Around there are the trees, there are shower and toilet. It is possible to have a rest properly, except for an interval between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. This period is the time of mosquitos. Without anti-mosquito net on the first days it was hardly. Then I have purchased such net, and everything has become good. As the money is not left at me, I had to sell the catamaran. And, at last, we have begun to solve our last (but very large) problem - the departure from Islamabad to Tashkent.
The fact is, that because of four-times delay of term of the expedition we could not beforehand to have reserved the seats for the return flight from Islamabad. And on the day of the departure from Tashkent at the office of PIA we have been told, that the seats for the return flight we shall reserve in Islamabad at once after arrival there, and we had the tickets with open date of the return flight. In Pakistan it was found out, that for June 22 and 29 the free seats for the flight Islamabad-Tashkent are absent. We had to address to Embassy of Russia for the help. There our request was met with understanding and sympathy, and due to the help of Vladimir Antonyuk my companion Nikolay was able on June 22 to depart to Tashkent. But I was compelled to remain. However Antonyuk have promised, that on June 29 I shall precisely depart. I had to be at the camp for a week more. On the one hand, to wait the flight during whole week - it is rather melancholy employment, but on the other hand, I have got to know a set of foreigners. Almost all they - the people, travelling the world over during 6-8 months (some - even during two years). They "grasped" 10-20 countries each. Many ones have arrived to Pakistan from Japan or Korea through China (Bejing, Urumchi, Kashgar) on Karakoram high-way (we passed on its site from Gilgit to Thakot). I made friends with the young, twenty-year-old, Japanese fellow Takashi Okada, very modest, he looks as the "home" boy. Nevertheless, he travels alone and is not going to give up this employment. The overwhelming majority of the travellers conducts such mode of life: during a pair of years they work intensively, earning money, and then during, for example, one year travel the world over, then again two years of work - and again wanderings...
At the camp there was also a family, having arrived in the large van (with kitchen and refrigerator). The capacious trailer was loaded by the subjects of cosiness. Young daddy and mummy, the one-year-old child and the dog had the magnificent rest. Both motor-cyclists, and bicyclists have visited the camp. The dealings of the representatives of different countries what can be better? In this sense the cheap camp in centre of Islamabad at three minutes of walking from different food-product establishments - it is really magnificent idea. Despite my love to Nepal I must to say, that did not see such camp in Kathmandu.
And, at last, on June 29 (not without the help of Antonyuk) I succeeded in getting on the aircraft, flying to Tashkent, and in less than three hours, I have appeared in the capital of Uzbekistan. The overwhelming majority of the passengers (Pakistanis) flied to "do" business in Uzbekistan. However the leaders of airport Tashkent, in connection with new trends (to counterbalance the former, show for effect), have decided at once to open to the visitors the real situation in the country (without any embroidery): we (90 passengers) at first have been conducted through any garage-semi-basement with repaired motor vehicles, then we have been drove into a dark room and started to pass (one at a time) through "revolving door" (the frontier-guards worked here, and there was the passport control). All frontier-guards were Russians, practically not speaking English. But the Pakistani businessmen, naturally, did not speak Russian. Therefore the dialogue of the visitors and the local people occured rather slowly. But, at last, I have appeared in Tashkent. That's all, the expedition was actually finished. There remained the flight to Novosibirsk only...
And the memories about the magnificent landscapes of Karakoram and Himalayas, the wilful Braldu, Bunar and Indus Rivers in due course begin to be perceived as a wonderful fairy-tale.
KARAKORAM EXPEDITION IN CHINA
In October 1992 I and Yuriy Skorodumov from Novosibirsk have rafted in China (in Xinjiang-Uygur autonomic region) in Karakoram on the Yarkand River. By this expedition I have finished the cycle of raftings from all 8-km-peaks of the world.
Actually, the rafting in China was not obligatory from the formal point of view. Down Mt.Chogori (K-2) and three other Karakoram 8-km-peaks (Broad Peak, Gasherbrum-1 and Gasherbrum-2) I already have rafted in Pakistan on the Braldu, Shigar and Indus. But I considered that it is desirable, if there is such opportunity, to have rafted on two-three rivers down each 8-km-peak (for example, in Nepal I have rafted down Annapurna on three rivers - the Marsyangdi, Modi and Kali Gandaki; down Kanchenjunga - on the Tamur in Nepal and on the Tista in India). However such opportunity occured not always. And if with Nepal, India and Pakistan the problems on this plane were not, with China everything was more difficult.
The opportunity of the rafting in China from Karakoram 8-km-peaks on the Shaksgam and Yarkand Rivers caused the certain doubts from the very beginning. The problem was that the first part of conceived water route (on the Shaksgam) passes near the Chinese-Pakistani frontier, i.e. is in a boundary zone. And as in China in relation to the state security there reign the same orders, that were in the USSR before the "perestroyka" (even for the Soviet people to get in our frontier zones then it was very difficult - we have tested this on self in 1985, when began the rafting on the Big Naryn near a border), I did not have confidence, that we shall be admitted to the Shaksgam (these apprehensions, unfortunately, came true hereinafter). But I always tried to squeeze out the maximum possible thing from any situation and, with reference to the given case, considered, that where will the opportunity be, there it is necessary to have rafted. Unless on the Shaksgam and Yarkand, in this case on the Yarkand only.
So, at the beginning of October we have got from Novosibirsk to Bishkek. With the help of my friend from the Free-Traveller Society Victor Bogachev and sympathizing to us Vladimir Ulyanov we became to search for the tourist firms, which could help our delivery to Kashgar through Torugart Pass, where passes the Kirghiz-Chinese frontier.
The fact is, that on rules of its crossing we could not pass into China, if from that (Chinese) party of border anybody did not meet us. In other words, someone must constantly "graze" us in China, and without supervision we could not there travel. The worse features of socialism were displayed in this question completely. However any tourist firm in Bishkek did not agree to take us to Kashgar and there to leave (its chiefs considered, that how many persons they bring in China, they must to take out back so many), in spite even of the fact, that we had the service visas. And only the cinema-firm "Salyamalik" (director B.U.Shamshiev) has agreed to help us to get to Kashgar, to supply us during three days with a meal and a hotel and then to leave us there. And if the tourist group of this firm will be in Kashgar, when we come back, it will take away us with self to Bishkek. We have paid, as usually all tourists pay for the tour, 120 dollars and 6,000 roubles each. As it has appeared hereinafter, we have not miscalculated. Because of an arbitrariness, created on the frontier in Torugart, some people stay here during 2-3 days.
Often there arise the problems with tourist groups also. We have passed the Kirghiz boundary and custom check, not getting out of the car. The firm "Salyamalik" is well known on both parties of the frontier, therefore we have passed through the frontier-guards and the custom officers very quickly. About the same situation has repeated on Chinese territory also. And though the Chinese officers usually require the medical certificates about that the driving person is not infected by AIDS (I and Yura have beforehand received the such certificates in Bishkek, having passed the appropriate check), anybody has not required them from our company. We have changed cars (we have got into the Japanese jeeps), belonging to the firm, which met us. However it has not turned out without a little incident - in a few kilometres our jeep has broken, and we have spent all night in it. At last, we arrived to Kashgar and were accommodated at a hotel. I have at once set off to Kashgar Mountaineering Association to make arrangements about the rafting. Unfortunately, for the first time for all my foreign expeditions between me and official persons has arisen a language barrier: Chineses don't speak the Russian language (exceptions are extremely rare) and almost don't speak English. With the help of the bad interpreter from Uygur into English I managed to explain to the manager of the firm Mister Arslan, that we want to carry out the rafting on the Shaksgam, and then - on the Yarkand. He has answered, that at first he will ask the permission from his chiefs in Urumchi, and then from police. By the morning of the following day he has received the agreement of the chiefs, but the answer from Urumchi's police should arrive only in a day. Due to presence of the free time and cordiality of Chinese firm (to which we were introduced as the employees of "Salyamalik"), we managed to examine various historical sights of Kashgar Region, in particular, we have visited the house of the great Uygur linguist Kashgari.
For the third day the answer from police has come. Unfortunately, negative. As the Shaksgam is really frontier river, the rafting on it is not permitted. It remained the Yarkand River. During three hours I bargained with Mister Arslan about the price - we could pay only 800 dollars, but he required almost twice more. Eventually he has agreed with our conditions.
Next day early in the morning two fellows from his firm have come for us to the hotel, and we were set off. We have covered through town Yarkand (Shache). The jeep raced literally on the road, and by the evening we succeeded to reach the Yarkand River in the region of its tributary Tashkurgan. As the events were in October and temperature of the air began already to creep to zero (by Celsius), on the river there was the low level of water (and majority of its tributaries have dried up entirely). It allowed us to get to the point of the beginning of the rafting sometimes even on the dry channel of the Yarkand and frequently over dry channels of its tributaries, that in the summer (at the large water) would be impossible. Having unloaded our load, the escort has left, and we have remained alone.
For this expedition, as distinct from my previous expeditions, we have taken with self the steady double raft "carabuber". However, as it has appeared, we "overshot the mark". A small level of water in the Yarkand plus the rafting in the "carabuber" have sharply simplified the route, and in the sporting relation the Chinese expedition has appeared not so interesting. Certainly, and on this route there were the powerful pressers to cliffs, rollers, and the current pulled us with speed of 10 km/hour even at the counter wind. But all obstacles were overcome without the special problems. What concerns to the surrounding us nature, the river ran in a unwooded zone, and there, where we had to stay the night, we used for preparation of food the primus-stove.
We have finished the rafting before the dam in Kochum. Here on the left bank we were waited by the already familiar fellows with the jeep. We have thrown down all things into the car and have gone to Yarkand. And in the morning of the following day we were in Kashgar already. Near the hotel "Chinuvak" we have "caught" the girl Marina, the chief of group of the tourists from Kara-Balta (it is near Bishkek), setting off back to Kirghizia through Bishkek, and have asked her to take us with self, moreover free-of-charge (our money terminated). Marina has turned out to be the sympathetic girl and has let us into the bus. In a few hours we have appeared on the frontier, without problems have crossed it and further have continued way in the bus of Kara-Balta tourist bureau. The Kara-Balta business-tourists have turned out to be very affable and have treated us to different meal and drinking. Next morning we arrived to Bishkek, and then by train (went during 2.5 days) - to Novosibirsk. So our Chinese expedition was finished.
The Yarkand River was the twenty second river in the list of the rivers, on which I have rafted from the all fourteen 8-km-peaks, in Nepal, India, Pakistan and China.
THE FIRST CORDILLERAS EXPEDITION (ARGENTINA)
After the successful rafting on the rivers, flowing down all fourteen 8-km-peaks, the new idea has seized me - to descend on the water way down the highest peaks of all continents.
The second from such peaks in height after Everest (Asia) is the South-American Mt.Aconcagua (6,960 m), being in Argentina near the frontier with Chile. I started preparing for the expedition. I made arrangements about money with the sponsor-participant of the expedition Victor Mozerov, and on January 11, 1993 we have taken off by flight of Aeroflot from Moscow to Buenos Aires. We made the intermediate landings in Algeria, on the island Sal and in town Salvador (Brazil).
To Buenos Aires we have arrived twenty two hours later, in the evening. But there was the summer, it was warm. In the bus we have reached the hotel "Waldorf" (where the double room cost 44 dollars).
In the midnight, before sleep, I have got out in town to look round and to reconnoitre the site of the bus and railway stations. Buenos Aires lived by cheerful night life. Advertisement amazed by its brightness. It has appeared, that in Argentina there are not many people who speaks English, but I did not speak Spanish. Therefore not at once have found out, that to necessary for us Mendosa the omnibuses of the transport firm "Shevalier" go. They set off there in the evening only, so we shall spend the next day in Buenos Aires.
In the morning we have handed over things in cloakroom of firm "Shevalier" and (after that as at Agency of Aeroflot there were confirmed our seats for the return flight to Moscow) have set off for excursion through town. It has turned out to be very beautiful and pleasant, but rather expensive. The inhabitants are very affable.
In the evening in the two-floor superbus of firm "Shevalier" we have set off to Mendosa. The careful attitude of stewardess to passengers has remained in our memory. There were offered to us the hot food, wine, cognac, cold drinks, coffee, cakes, videofilms were shown, lottery drawing was spent... All this is counted up in the cost of the ticket (equal to 70 dollars).
We have arrived to Mendosa in the morning, have left things in the baggage room and have engaged in searches of the tourist firm, working in the region of Mt.Aconcagua. We have eventually got to the Branch of Department of Tourism in San Martin street, where have received the rather detailed information about the orders in the region of this famous mountain. For the permit for visiting the national park, which surrounds Aconcagua and begins above settlement Puenta-del-Inca, we have paid 30 dollars each. Then have got the bus tickets up to Puenta-del-Inca (for the morning of the following day) and became to get acquainted with Mendosa. We have literally fallen in love with this green, most beautiful town with set of buildings of medieval Spanish style.
Now a half of million about people live in Mendosa. We have visited SARKU - the Association on study of Russian culture. The members of this society though badly, but speak Russian. One family has invited us after the rafting to visit its home.
We have spent the night at the hotel "Halicia", very cheap on the local standard (15 dollars for two-bed room).
In the morning by the bus we have gone away to Puenta-del-Inca (it was necessary to go there for 4 hours). By mistake (because of ignorance of Spanish) we have covered farther, than it is necessary - up to the Argentina-Chile frontier. We had to come back to Puenta-del-Inca. Having examined the Orcones River, running down Aconcagua, we have decided to begin the rafting on it a little higher Puenta-del-Inca, as the water-flow here was small, and upstream the river was practically impassable for our raft "carabuber". But as we stored the permit for visiting the national park Aconcagua, decided at first to make trekking to the high-altitude hotel "Placa-del-Mulas" ("Mule's square") at the height of 4,400 meters about.
For this travelling it has passed two days with the intermediate spending the night in place Confluenc, where two rivers join. On the way we admired Aconcagua (to the point, it is possible to see it also from the road, leading to Chile, in 4-5 km from Puenta-del-Inca). We have got to know Italian and Indonesian climbers and also the company of Argentine trekkers, consisting of two adult men and several boys of school age. To the point, the Spanish-speaking travellers welcome others by exclamation "Ola" instead of habitual for me "Hi".
Then we have come back to Puenta-del-Inca. In the evening at hotel we have got to know the Dutch climber Erik Richter, which besides has turned out to be the professional photographer. We made arrangements: he will photograph a fragment of our rafting before "Inca's Bridge" by his photocamera, then will send us the negatives. And his friend will photograph our rafting in the same place by Mozerov`s Japanese camera.
Next day, having collected the "carabuber", we have begun the rafting on the Orcones and have continued it on the Las Cuevas River, into which the Orcones falls. In kilometre lower Puenta-del-Inca the rafting on this day has been finished. The Dutchmen have photographed us, as arranged. We had supper at hotel, but stayed the night near the raft.
Further during four days we rafted on the Las Cuevas and Mendosa River (into which the Las Cuevas falls). The route has turned out to be of the maximum (sixth) severity grade. The continuous (for about 30 km) slalom on the Las Cuevas between large boulders at the high speed of current was replaced by the rafting on the powerful river, which the Mendosa has turned out to be at the large water (in January on it there is the flood). And in two kilometres (from the place of falling of the Las Cuevas into it near settlement Puenta-de-Vacas) the Mendosa has unexpectedly squeezed itself into the narrow canyon, where has formed the water-throw-down of the height of 2.5-3 meters with the powerful "holes" behind it. One bublik-ring of the "carabuber" has stuck in the "hole", but the second ring has pulled it out from this water pit.
For the following 30-40 km the chain of the powerful rapids of 5 (5-6) severity grade has again followed. Then the river calms down, break up into numerous channels and (about in 20 km) in such state reaches Uspallata. After the bridge near this settlement the Mendosa is collected in one channel again and in a state of powerful flow directs into a gorge. Up to the automobile bridge (on which the road passes to the left bank and leaves to town Mendosa) on the river there are the numerous rapids of 4 and 5 severity grade.
Before the named bridge it is recommended to finish the rafting (we have made so), as in a few kilometres after it the Mendosa River leaves on plain, break up into channels and soon disappears in saline soil.
The rafting on the Orcones, Las Cuevas and Mendosa Rivers has required the maximum physical efforts. On the Mendosa lower Uspallata besides the counter wind prevented strongly. Because of the intensive melting of glaciers the water in the first two rivers, passed by us, was of dark-brown colour, and in the Mendosa - of light-brown. It was necessary to settle it a long time before the use for food.
After the rafting we have come back to Mendosa town and during two days were there. We have put up at the same hotel "Halicia". We have visited the family, inviting us, and very pleasantly have spent the evening. At three a.m. we have set off to the hotel. It was Saturday, and Mendosa did not sleep - the streets were filled by the having fun people. But during the first half of following day the town seemed extinct (the inhabitants either slept off, or had a rest in a park). We also have visited this park with the lake, the favourite place of rest of the town-dwellers. And in the evening we have got on a bus and have left to Buenos Aires.
During the next day we roved through the capital of Argentina and then (at the beginning of the night) have taken off to Moscow.
From the hot summer we have come back to the cold winter. The first Russian rafting expedition in the Cordilleras was finished.
THE FIRST AFRICAN EXPEDITION (TANZANIA)
In the second half of day on February 16, 1993 the fate of the expedition hung by a thread. There were no money.
But at 15.30 the our sponsor Andrey Evstigneev ("ART-PRESS") gave out to us (me and Gena Kopeika) 1,800 dollars - and "a wheel began to rotate". The aircraft to Dar as Salam (the capital of Tanzania) took off the same day, at twenty o'clock. For three hours we made many acts in Moscow: have changed a half of the sum to Russian roubles, have purchased in the Frunzenskaya embankment the avia-tickets, have taken away things of Gena from the baggage room at Kurskiy railway station, and my things - from Zelenograd, have come running, at last, to airport Sheremetyevo-2 with the heavy load... At 19 o'clock we have appeared before the custom. It was thought: now the custom-officers will begin to find fault with my duraluminium pipes, from which the frame of catamaran consists, will blame for export the strategical material. But everything turned out all right. After the exciting holy-action (the weighing of our load) it was taken from us only 15 thousands roubles - less, than we assumed.
The successful beginning of expedition should force us to ponder over the possible problems at the end, to enhance vigilance in the alien country... But the Russian carelessness and conceit won, and for it we have cruelly paid in Africa. But about it is later.
What did we fly to Tanzania for? Two persons under the task of the publishing firm "ART-PRESS" owed to make two acts: the climber Gena Kopeika - to make ascent of the highest African peak Mt.Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), and I - to have rafted from it in a catamaran on the Karanga River. At the same time we were obliged to make the good photographs for "ART-PRESS".
After the intermediate landings in Larnaka (Ciprus) and Sana (Yemen) our aircraft has landed in Dar as Salam at 10 o'clock on February 17. In a taxi we have reached the hotel "Starlight". The cost of two-bed room (including a breakfast) is about 20 dollars.
We had a look at the town, at Agency of Aeroflot have confirmed the return flight to Moscow on February 24, have purchased the photofilms and the tickets for the bus to Moshi for 10 o'clock of the following day. In the morning on February 18 we have gone away from Dar as Salam. The suburbs were replaced by the cultivated fields, then the savanna has gone, and, at last, there appeared the mountains. At 19 o'clock we have arrived to Moshi. There we were caught by the representatives of the firm "Prince Kili Safaris" and have been conducted to the hotel "Coffee Tree". The one-bed room with breakfast cost 1,300 Tanzanian shillings (at the rate 440 shillings - 1 dollar).
Having studied in detail the map of region of the national park Kilimanjaro, we have decided, that I shall begin the rafting on the Karanga River from place Kibosho (located above, than Moshi), and Gena with the guide of the tourist firm (the presence of which in the national park is certain) therefrom about will begin the ascent. However in the morning of the following day it was found out, that cheaper (200 dollars instead of 300) there will be the climbing on the classical way with the use of the constructed there huts.
In the morning on February 19 in a jeep of the tourist firm we have gone to Kibosho, but soon were convinced, that before this place yet the Karanga River is impassable for rafting (at this time it looked as the shallow stream). As a result I had to start on the Karanga a little higher the bridge on the road Moshi-Arusha. Gena Kopeika during hour assiduously photographed my rafting, then has set off to make the ascent.
The bottom of the Karanga River has the stepped character, each "smooth" site comes to the end by a choke from stones with the very narrow passes (narrower, than the width of my catamaran). From these stones the water falls downwards, then there is the next "smooth" site. Over the such rock-chokes I had constantly to carry the catamaran.
The "smooth" sites at first were very short (less than 10 meters), then become to lengthen. By the evening I am very tired and have not begun to object, when four local fellows became to help me to carry the catamaran over stones. Unfortunately, this "help" had for me the fatal consequences: one of fellows has cut the rope, by which the rucksack with my things was fastened to the catamaran behind my back.
I have found out the loss of the rucksack only after that as four rogues have disappeared in jungle. For my rafting there watched dozens of people, but anybody "did not see" the thieves. The hate to the white-people has remained from the colonial time. The spectators were frankly glad, that the white man was robed.
In the rucksack, except things, were my passport, avia-ticket and money. Next day I together with policemen have come back to the place of incident, but the guards of low have soon left, citing employment. Having convinced, that "the people and thieves are united", I have conducted at five villages the talks about that it is possible to don't return me my money and things, but the passport and air-ticket are necessary for me very much, without them I can not leave Tanzania. The people understandingly and with sympathy noded... But only it.
I have continued the rafting. The slope of the river gradually decreased, the speed of water fell. My interest to the rafting has become to vanish. Besides the twilight began to fall. Suddenly from the bank a crocodile was thrown in the river. I have moored to the bank, have draged out the catamaran from water and have disassembled it. Passing a few kilometres, I have found a road. The passing car has taken me almost up to Moshi. For the last five kilometres I had to carry the catamaran on self I had not the money to hire a car.
In the evening of the following day Gena has appeared at the hotel. He has successfully finished the ascent of Kilimanjaro.
I made arrangements with him: he tomorrow (on February 22) in the morning will go to Dar as Salam and will try to receive at Agency of Aeroflot the duplicate of my air-ticket, and at Russian Embassy - the document for my returning to Moscow, but I for one day shall stay in Moshi. To a certain extent it worked out as expected: someone still have planted my passport to one of police divisions.
On February 23 in Dar as Salam I have met Gena at the hotel. Under his request Moscow has confirmed the fact of my purchase of air-ticket for the return way, and the duplicate of my ticket was given for me. In the morning on February 25 we have got out of the aircraft in Sheremetyevo (Moscow).
But the stealing of my rucksack was only the first act of our "Tanzanian tragedy". When in the evening on February 22 Gena has arrived to Dar as Salam and approached to hotel, four Negros suddenly attacked him. They have taken away the Japanese photocamera of the cost of 500 dollars, watch and 200 dollars. Defending himself, Gena has been wounded by a knife in the hand, this hand has been cut very much. In holster of the photocamera he kept all six photofilms, shot in Tanzania for "ART-PRESS". It was the heaviest for us loss. You see, for these frames we have received the money for the expedition.
In spite of the fact that on the sporting plane we have carried out the task for 100 percent, the mood was spoiled. We could not grow fond of Tanzania. It is involuntarily recollected the verse by Russian childrens writer Mikhalkov: "Don't take a walk, children, to Africa..."
"On the distant Amazon I was never..."
(from the popular Russian song)
THE SECOND CORDILLERAS EXPEDITION (THE AMAZON, PERU) (March 1993)
From childhood I dreamed to visit the Amazon. However, not I alone.
Yet in February 1991 at Congress of the USSR Free-Travellers Society Alexey Kalinichenko has collected group of desirous people to raft on the Amazon with the completely different purposes - archaeological, botanical and other, down to search of the country Eldorado. The guys were full of enthusiasm, but did not understand, that the many-people expeditions at present time for the Soviet people are unreal, for them it will be not possible to find the sponsors.
The results were not long in coming: at first Kalinichenko "had broken off" himself. Then there could not find money Kostya Chaadaev, replacing him at the post of leader of this group. My expedition only became real. But because of the financial difficulties (each person searched money for self) there were the problems in our group also: two weeks before departure Shangaraev from Omsk has refused to go and at the last moment - a fellow from Perm also. As a result I again remained alone, moreover with an additional problem - the excessively large weight of the load. The fifty-kilogram excess of the Aeroflot standard of free carriage of baggage (at account 5 dollars per each extra kilogram of load) completely "ate" the whole my cash for carrying out of the expedition - 250 dollars. I had to postpone for a week the start to Peru and to take up the revision of the equipment.
I was compelled to refuse the reliable, showing self good in Argentina raft "carabuber", which weighed with the pipes about 55 kg. There was nothing for it but to think out a new, very easy structure. I have decided to reduce the whole frame-set to one-sole pipe, by which (with the aid of the lateral loops in the covers) the two gondolas would join. The catamaran of the width of about meter has turned out.
The pipe gave it the rigidity in the longitudinal direction, but only on condition that the gondolas will not drain the air off. Certainly, my design was not ideal. The rigidity in the cross direction was practically away, and the transverse stability of this catamaran at the rafting could remain only with the help of the support on the paddle, as in a kayak. Such catamaran, from the point of view of severity of the passed obstacles, was of the same or smaller class as the usual kayak and, naturally, conceded in transverse stability to the classical catamaran, but it was nothing to do.
Because of the rigid economy of the weight of the equipment I had to refuse the bag-pump, tent, helmet, hydrotrousers, reserve set of clothes and much other. I was confined only by two kayak's paddles (main and reserve), rope for mooring, sleeping bag, polyethylene awning, mat, easy small aluminium mess-tin, minimum necessary set of clothes and small things of different sort. And on March 13 by the flight of Aeroflot Moscow-Lima I have taken off to Peru.
We flied during about day and made the intermediate stops in Luxemburg, Shennon (Ireland) and Havana. Over Havana one day before our arrival a typhoon has dashed, blowing down a few buildings and breaking the electrical wires. In the aircraft I have got to know the Peruvian, which learns in Moscow. In Lima he "entrusted" me to another Peruvian, living in Lima, and the brother of which learns in Moscow. This fellow for the following day has helped me to get on the bus, going to La Union.
From the moment of my arrival to Lima it has arisen one more, probably the largest, problem - the language barrier, because though I speak English, but do not know Spanish, and the inhabitants of Peru don't speak English practically. I had to learn urgently the numbers and separate phrases in Spanish, but all the same it has appeared insufficiently for the normal dialogue.
I have been advised to begin the rafting from La Union on one of the sources of the Maranyon - the Viscares River (in Tingo Chiko the Viscares and the Nupe River form the Maranyon, and the Maranyon and the Ukayali in their turn form the Amazon). I made so.
The Viscares River from La Union to it's mouth represents itself the river of 4-5 severity grade with rather fast current and obstacles in the basic of jet character. The Maranyon, since Tingo Chiko for the first ten kilometres, is the rather quiet river, but opposite to settlement Kulkish enters in the severest, from the point of view of rafting, kilometre canyon, in which there are many rapids of the maximum severity grade.
The part of them can be passed in the large rafts (and, at bound of their opportunity) or in the "carabuber", but for my boat this canyon was impassable.
I have renewed the rafting from the exit site of the canyon, fifty meters before the bridge. Here the obstacles of the fifth severity grade (for my catamaran - sixth). Then the river was simplified, moreover - has almost stopped. I have understood, that ahead there is imposing something. Just as I thought! In 7-10 km after the exit bridge of Kulkish canyon the river again directs to very dangerous canyon, the entrance in which at the large water is impassable for any raft. The water, compressed by walls of the canyon, falls from the three-four-meter drop-waterfall on a huge boulder, which blocked the whole channel, and, bouncing back off it, infiltrates further through two lateral passes of the width of 1.5 and 2.5 meters. In fifty meters about the water again hove from impact in a rock for 2-3 meters and falls downwards from the next waterdrop.
At the large water the entrance site of the canyon would be possible to risk to pass (with probability of passage 50 percent) in the "carabuber", but it was perfectly real the danger of destruction of a ship in 1.5-meter pass. However, the indicated by me severity and passability of obstacles are given for the high level of water in the river. The flood on the Viscares and Maranyon, caused by rains, is observed in February-March, and the low level of water ("low water") - in June-August. In the low water the rapids, certainly, will be simplified. And here in March I was compelled to bypass the first three hundred meters of the second canyon on the bank, then have continued the rafting. Just there were the rapids of 5 severity grade. It proceeded so up to Chawin.
From Chawin I went on foot to Tantamayo, near which three ancient American-Indians settlements are located, have visited the ancient site Piruro with destroyed fortress. Unfortunately, during all day it was raining, therefore it was not possible to photograph the good pictures on the slide film.
Returning to the Maranyon, I have continued the rafting and have finished it in the region of settlement Vacrachuko, meeting on the way the serious obstacles.
Thus, on the Maranyon it was passed about two hundred kilometres. I think, that it is the most severe site of the river, as then, according to the map, the average slope of the Maranyon decreases, and the width of the channel increases. Certainly, it does not exclude the separate severe rapids on the left mountain site.
Now about impressions. The places on the Maranyon banks are very beautiful. It was extremely interesting to visit the Old-Indian ancient settlements. As to weather, in basic it was raining, it was rather cold, and the sun occurred only for 2-3 hours per a day. March was planned by me beforehand, as I wanted to get on the Maranyon in the large water in order in the special raft "carabuber" to have passed the severest rapids.
For the single navigation in a small boat, certainly, there suit better June-August, when it rains a little only, it is warm and because of the low level of water there are the more simple obstacles on the river.
Returning to Lima, I have spent the night at Russian Trade Delegation, and the next day have taken off to Moscow. So my second Cordilleras expedition finished, which had two specific peculiarities.
The first - terrorism. It has appeared, that just Amazonia is the place of dwelling and active actions of terroristic groups, the favourite object of "hunting" of which there are the foreign tourists. As it has been told me on the route, the last year in region Tantamayo, just there, where I have visited, there was killed the American family - the parents with children.
And it is not casual that in 1993 I was the first foreigner in Tantamayo. The foreign tourists were killed in Wari and other settlements. Almost everybody-comer asked me, whether am I afraid of terrorists. All this, certainly, mad nervous. You see, the person, rafting on the river, is the perfect target, quite helpless (anybody can shoot in him many times, until hit him, and he can't to answer by anything). But I was lucky - anybody did not shoot in me.
The second problem - the set of mad dogs and even cats. Unfortunately, about it I have learned only after the rafting. Because of the lack of equipment during travelling I often froze and, if an opportunity to spend the night at any settlement presented itself, considered it as a large good luck. And in one populated area in darkness a dog has bitten me for the leg. At first I have treated this rather carelessly (only painted the wound with marganese-fluid and stuck with plaster), but on returning to Lima have learned at the Russian Embassy, that in Peru there is rife the epidemic of rabies. I had urgently to take the appropriate measures.
However, there present a known danger the poisonous spiders, snakes, other insidious living creatures, which here are in plenty. However, it is possible yet somehow to manage them, knowing their habits and getting the appropriate medical preparations. But because of the terrorism I can not recommend to the tourists to raft on the Maranyon and Amazon.
If only you are not possessed by this dream from childhood.
THE THIRD CORDILLERAS EXPEDITION (ALASKA, USA)
In July-August 1993 I and Vladimir Kuznetsov have rafted in Alaska down from the highest peak of North America Mt.McKinley (6,194 m) on the McKinley and Kantishna Rivers.
The realization of this expedition was under a question up to the last day, first, because of the financial problems, and secondly, because of the irregularity of airflights in Russia (my aircraft, for example, has taken off from Novosibirsk to Magadan in one day later the planned time). But everything turned out all right. And at 11.30 on July 22, 1993 (Thursday) by flight of Aeroflot 801 we have taken off from Magadan to Anchorage. Having flied for four hours, we have arrived to Anchorage at 19.30 ...on 21(!) July (Wednesday), that is, as in the fantastic novel, we have made travelling in time (the change of time and daily zones had an effect). As we were short of financial means, at once at arrival to Anchorage, having met the several our compatriots (I do not know, present or former), we became to learn the coordinates of the cheapest hotel. By it there has turned out to be the Anchorage Youth Hostel at the address H-700. Here the cost of bed per day is 15 dollars (in your disposal the double plank bed plus the kitchen, shower, toilet, different information). For bed-clothes it is necessary to pay 1 dollar yet.
In the morning of following day (at 8 o'clock) by the van of the firm "Moon Bay Express" we have gone away to National park Denali (McKinley), surrounded Mt.McKinley. We have landed at VAC - centre for the visitors, where the permits for visiting the National park are given out. It has appeared, that it is rather difficult to get into park Denali because of huge influx of those who wish to visit it. The park is divided into 44 zones, and in each zone there can stay simultaneously the certain amount of people only. The excess of this amount is not admitted. In the most popular zones there is the queue for 3-4 days ahead. We needed to raft through the zones 14, 15, 43 and 44. I have decided, beginning the rafting from the zone 14, to carry out the first spending the night in the zone 15, and all other spendings the night in limits of the National park - in the zone 44, the most large and the most seldom-visited (the queue to it was not). But there was no confidence, whether shall we be admitted into park in general. You see, for its visitors there are the large restrictions in behaviour - it is necessary to have at self the plastic barrel for dust, to keep the products in 100 m from the place of spending the night, and to prepare food at distance of 100 m from named two places (these three points represent tops of an equilateral triangle, if to look from above on ground). But the largest problems could arise with grizzly bears, the main sight of the park. From the people it was required to talk loudly or to go with a bell, notified the bear about their approach. In case, if the bear will suddenly direct to the people, it was recommended to speak louder and to extend arms horizontally (showing the bear, that any weapon is not present, and anything does not threaten his life). If he will continue still to run to the people, it was necessary to fling on ground, closing the neck by the rucksack, and to pretend to be dead (on idea of the managers of park, the bear after it should leave the people alone).
I have addressed to one of the rangers of this centre with the request to permit us to have rafted in the park on the McKinley and Kantishna Rivers. He has answered, that it is possible, but previously I and Vladimir are obliged to pass examination with computer, which set on the display different situations, for which we should give the correct answers. The questions in English were set extremely (for me) quickly, but how to take examination for Vladimir Kuznetsov, not speaking English, it was impossible to self to imagine. I during hour prepared to answer the questions (to computer there was the queue), but here it has suddenly appeared, that the taking of the examination with computer is desirable, but not obligatory. How I was delighted to this! We have gone to another ranger (the first has left somewhere), and he, without slightest problems, has given out to us the permit for rafting on the McKinley and Kantishna Rivers up to the Tanana River. Besides it appeared, that the reception of the permit is free-of-charge. It, naturally, has pleased us. It was also found out, that the travel in a school bus-shuttle up to the place of start in the region of Muldrow Glacier of Mt.McKinley massif (namely from this glacier the McKinley River rises) costs three dollars per person only. The truth is, the severity has turned out to be in the term of departure to the route, as one day ahead all seats in buses, leaving up to Eielson-Centre and Wonder Lake, have turned out to be taken, and we for one day had to postpone the departure and during 1.5 days to stay in campground Morino, that is near Denali-Park-hotel (there the cost of a seat on ground for 1 person is three dollars per a day). We have spent this time rather in a cultural manner (have looked different films about Denali-Park, in particular, about birds of prey). However for the second day our mood has darkened by the incessant during the day rain and the notice (the first and last), made to us by one of rangers. He has noticed, that in campground we have left the rucksack with food products near our rest-place, instead of putting it in the special big metal locker for food products. In the note, left to us, it was told, that if he (ranger) will see once again this rucksack with food products near our rest-place, we shall be immediately expelled from the park. Naturally, we made all as it was required.
And on July 24 at seven a.m. by the bus, going to Eielson-Centre and Wonder Lake, we have gone away to the place of the beginning of the rafting. On the way from the bus window we saw the vigorous and cheerful grizzly bears, the not less merry foxes, mooses and other wild animals. Having made the on-foot approach to the McKinley River, we have appeared on it in the zone 14 and have begun to collect the catamaran. And at once it was raining, that has obviously slowed down the assembly of our ship. But without fail we needed this day to stay the night in the fifteenth zone (for this we had permission), but simply not in the fourteenth. Our rafting began only in the evening, and nevertheless it was possible before spending the night to reach the fifteenth zone. We were compelled to sleep in moss, under clouds of mosquitos, but we could not find the best place for spending the night.
From here it remained about 10 km down to the most dangerous site of the McKinley River - the twenty-kilometre Eagle Gorge. On the map this gorge is well appreciable, as before it the numerous channels of the McKinley River (which flows out from the glacier in such state) incorporate, and after it the river again breaks into channels. The gorge has appeared rather interesting for rafting, but we have passed it with a few stops only, without the previous reconnaissance. Anybody can't photograph us here (and on the whole McKinley River), therefore the recurrent time I remained without "fighting" photos. Two times the catamaran could turn over, but we succeeded to level position. The gorge is beautiful.
After this gorge the river again flowed through the numerous channels and only before the falling into the Kantishna River was collected into one channel.
It is necessary to notice, that for the whole rafting on the McKinley and Kantishna at the time of spending the night mosquitoes tormented us (around the ice massif McKinley there places the original, characteristic just for Alaska, mixture of tundra and taiga). The truth is, on the river the mosquitoes were a little.
During the rafting through National park Denali, strictly carrying out instructions, we did not kindle a fire and carried with self all waste absolutely (paper, cans, etc.) (in no case did not bury). It was completely unusual for us, but the requirement to do so was fair, because only so it is possible to save the nature. And the nature in Denali Park remained untouched, there are no any human traces. The results were available. On the banks of the river we constantly met fresh traces of a bear, saw the moose-mother with moose-child, a lot of beavers, ducks and other living creatures. And nevertheless the fear to make unintentionally something wrong in the park possessed of us, therefore we were sincerely delighted, having noticed on the bank the first (for all time of the rafting) table-poster - "Border of National park". The strain has abated. Now we could burn fires and litter, but the habit, acquired in Denali-Park, had an effect already - we have accurately dug the whole accumulated rubbish.
In a few dozens of kilometres after border of National park there were appeared the first attributes of presence of the people, and, at last, on the right bank of the river we have seen the wooden house and the large boat, moored beside.
We have decided to make a stop and to be on a visit. The family Douthat (Daryl and Carol) was the house-and-boat owner. In the autumn, winter and spring they live in Anchorage (Daryl is the professor of chemistry and physics at Anchorage University), but spend the summer here, alone with the wild nature. The meeting was very warm. We (I and the professor) found the common theme for conversation, connected with our work. We both are the scientific researchers and, as it has appeared, the both worked for "defences". It was found out, that not only my Russian Academy of Sciences (actually the former USSR Academy of Sciences) now disperses, but also among the American scientists, working for "defences", there are large dismissals.
Daryl has showed on the map the place of the located below with the stream of the Kantishna house of Tanya Bickeland and her friend Rich. To the end of the day we have made the distance down to the large new house of Tanya and Rich. The reception to us was given hearty. Here we have spent the night. And for the next day we have reached the dwelling of Mike Turner, the third "owner" of the Kantishna. And here we were accepted superbly.
By this moment the Kantishna River has absolutely calmed down and slowly crept on plain. The whole sporting part of the route has remained behind. And when Turner has offered to us to have rafted on the last site of the Kantishna in his motor-boat and then to rise in it on the Tanana River upstream up to town Nenana, we have accepted his invitation (in general Mike makes the similar trip one time for 2 months only). In this case our main problem - the hit from the mouth of the Kantishna to Nenana - was solved, as motor-boats past the mouth of the Kantishna float seldom, and the variant with the rafting on the slow Tanana to Manly-Hot-Springs required the additional financial expenses for our returning therefrom to Nenana overland, while Mike took us free-of-charge.
To a word, it was surprising perfectly for me the impression, which our visit made on the simple Americans Rich and Mike. As distinct from the self-confident foreign visitors, visited Russia, Rich and Mike were shy of us very much and at the same time tried to show all, that they have, as though we have arrived for excursion. Their reaction to the occurrence of the foreigners was similar to behaviour of Russian peasants at the remote village, when the Americans visited them.
For the next day we together with Mike made the distance up to Nenana. There, on the road Fairbanks-Anchorage, up to the evening we tried to catch the passing car (we wanted to come back to campground in Denali Park, from whence it was easy to leave to Anchorage hostel), but unsuccessfully. We have spent the night in Nenana's campground. Though the seat in it cost 5 dollars per person (more expensive, than in Denali), but it is with hot shower, that was for us very much to the point. Here we have got to know the company of the American elderly people from Oregon, travelling in three cars with trailers.
They, having learned that we are from Russia, have offered to take us up to National park Denali. We, naturally, did not begin to refuse this offer. And in Denali we have felt self as at home almost - everything around is familiar. We have again stayed in campground Morino. Have again looked films (already other) about the wild life in National park Denali. Have met already familiar to us two Germen, two Jo (Joachims) - Deleker and Sipple. Have got to know Ron Andersen - the American botany teacher, working in summer in Denali Park by the driver of bus-shuttle.
Then in the same van of the firm "Moon Bay Express" we have come back to Anchorage, where again were quartered at the international hostel. For the following day we have examined town. We have liked it. And then by flight of Aeroflot 802 we have come back to Magadan. In Anchorage and Magadan I have got to know the American travellers Thom Barry and Amy McVey. And then from Magadan I have flown to Irkutsk and further by train have reached Novosibirsk.
So, the North-American expedition was finished. Now I begin the preparation for the expedition in Italy, where I plan to have rafted from the highest peak of Western Europe Mt.Mont Blanc. Then - Australia and Indonesia. But as yet I am impressed deeply by the beauties of Alaska, unique and beautiful.
ALPINE EXPEDITION IN ITALY
In October 1993 I together with my twelve-year-old son Victor have visited Italy, where we have rafted on the Dora Baltea River, running down Mont Blanc (4,807 m) - the highest mountain of Western Europe. The half of required money (200 dollars) Ron Andersen sponsored me during my stay in Alaska, moreover he made it under his initiative - he has sheer liked my travellings.
To Italy we have come (also, as then have gone away from it) in the bus of tourist firm "Sputnik" from Minsk together with the usual tourist group. From Belorussia our way laid through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. The most remembered event on this way there was visiting Budapest, beautiful town with the large number of ancient buildings.
And though the tourist group was examined most carefully by customers in Brest (on Belorussian side), we have lost the most of all time on the Italian border, where one of the local customers would like to purchase from anybody from our group the "Komandirskiye" watch (naturally, cheaply). But its owner was not found, and we for a long time were "forgotten" (we have lost here about five hours).
In Bolonia I and Vitya were disconnected from group and further have continued travelling independently. As well as assumed, the ignorance of the Italian language was a rather large problem, however soluble (as distinct from Peru, where for all time of my stay there I have met one English-speaking person (woman) only, in Italy each fifth or sixth speaks English). So, in the local bus (large, any problems with accommodation of luggage; however, it is characteristic for the basic part of Italian transport, including trains) we have reached the railway station. We have purchased the second-class tickets to Aosta on the route Bolonia - Milan - Kivasso - Aosta (it was necessary for us to change three trains, as the direct one to Aosta was not).
The ticket from Bolonia to Aosta cost about 60 thousand lire (at the moment of our arrival to Italy the rate of local lira was such: 1,550 lire for 1 dollar). In the Italian railway tickets the numbers neither of trains, nor of seats, are not specified (it is possible to sit on any seat of any train, going to the necessary point, but only in the carriage of the class specified in the ticket - the second or the first). The truth is, there are yet the trains-expresses, at use of which it is necessary to pay additionally for "speed". In Milan we have changed trains and have reached Kivasso (this station is on the branch Milan-Turin), from which the trains to Aosta go. We have arrived to Kivasso in the midnight, and the next train to Aosta set off in the morning at 7 o'clock only, therefore we had to spent the night in the waiting-room.
In the morning we have arrived to Aosta. I have rung my acquaintance Piersandro Pignataro up, which I met in Argentina after his ascent of Mt.Aconcagua (before my rafting on the rivers, flowing down from this peak). Piersandro has arrived to the station for us, has taken us to his home, have introduced to the wife Julianna and children Valentina and Luka. We were fed the perfect dinner. And then Piersandro in the car has driven us along the Dora Baltea River (on which we are going to raft) from Aosta to Kurnaye (this settlement is directly at the foot of Mont Blanc) and back. Below Aosta the river is not possible for rafting, on it there is a lot of dams and drainage canals. Therefore the site Kurnaye-Aosta of 35-40 km extension is standard for the rafting, as Piersandro has told. However, as I have found out later, there is the sense to finish the route a little above (with stream) Aosta near settlement Sar, before the dam. Then on the route it remains only one dam (on the upper waters before a gorge), over which still the boat should be carried. However, in the autumn because of the small level of water, the site higher this dam was impassable perfectly for our raft, and to begin the rafting it was possible below it only. Therefore our rafting was without carryings.
In the evening we walked through Aosta and have spent the night in the smart house of Piersandro. Next day the owner of the house with family left to Turin, therefore hereinafter we again were given to self.
In the morning we have gone away for the route. The half of day has left for the preparation of our raft "carabuber" for rafting. We have decided already to don't raft this day.
The next day was fighting, with the rafting on the Dora Baltea River. We (I together with the son) passed through the obstacles up to the third-fourth severity grade, but through the rapid of the fourth-fifth grade I have rafted alone, and Vitya has photographed me here. We have finished the rafting in the evening before the dam near settlement Sar.
For the next day we made a trip to Kurnaye, have looked Mont Blanc close. We stayed the night at the hotel of our new familiar Danilo Barmaz, too rafter.
And yet in a day the returning from the Alps to Russia began. At first by train we have reached up to Milan, have examined it. As far as it has surprised with it's modest aspect the world-known "La Skala", so the cathedral on the square Duoma has been liked.
In the evening, also by train, we have arrived to Venice. We were going to spend one day in this legendary town (the meeting with our tourist group was planned for the next day at 14 o'clock, and in the evening, at 19 o'clock, the common departure from Venice was planned). In Venice there are no motor-roads, and there are only the streets for pedestrians and water channels.
Because of the insufficiency of our financial opportunities we had during all night to rove through the town (from the waiting room of the railway station we have been expelled, as we already had used all railway tickets). Venice, certainly, is the town of high class! Very beautiful. At night Venice lives by quite other life, than in the afternoon - there cafe open only, and in motor-boats and gondolas the having fun companies and loving couples float.
In the morning we have seen other Venice - more beautiful even. We literally have gone all over this town. The region near St.Mark Square was remembered especially. To the point, in the midday this square was under water (there has come the rising tide). But in the evening, when we have got here together with the tourist group, the square was already dry (owing to the falling tide of the waters of Adriatic Sea).
We have met our tourist group at 18 o'clock (for four hours later, than it was planned) because of its late arrival. The tourists during two hours got acquainted with Venice (however, the majority of them visited town shops only). And late at evening we were set off for the return way. This time we went through Slovenia, Hungary and Ukraine (through Chop). After that as we had to "huddle up" (to stint ourself of finances because of a lack of money) in Europe, we were amazed with the prices in Ukraine - here the normal dinner costs 100 Russian roubles (previously converted into Ukrainian kupons) per each. Such dinner in Novosibirsk before the trip came to me for 700-800 roubles. It evidently confirmed, that the economic situation in Ukraine is more worse, than in Russia even. Then we have arrived to Minsk and, at last, through Moscow, we have come back to Novosibirsk.
RAFTING IN AUSTRALIA
Taking off from Moscow on December 10,1994 and making the intermediate landing in Bangkok (Thailand), we (I and my companion Vladimir Kuznetsov) have arrived in the morning on December 11 to Sydney, where were met by my acquaintance on correspondence John Morrell. As the importation of the majority of products (and especially meat) to Australia is forbidden categorically, we had to grasp from Russia tea, sugar and sublimated (dry) soups only. We bought the other products in Sydney. Then John has taken us to the bus station, and in eight hours by the bus we arrived to Barydale, making 1.5-hour stop in Canberra (the rather pleasant town; however, this characteristic concerns also to the majority of other towns and townships of Australia; we shall tell at once: we have liked Australia very much). In Barydale we were met by John`s friend David Cigana, at which we have spent the night.
For the following day David has taken us in the car to the Snowy River to the place, located a little below the settlement Dalgeti. From here we have begun the rafting.
We were going to raft on the Snowy at first the eighty-kilometre not-visited by rafters site, and then to overcome 120 km of already well-known route. On the first site it should be met Kurrowong Waterfall. However, what is its height and where is it precisely located, the local professional rafters did not know, as, naturally, we also. I shall tell at once, that for the first 80 km we have spent six operational days (and for the other 120 km four days). On the first site we have met not one waterfall (as it was expected), but three. Moreover before the first two waterfalls (of height of 4 and 2.5 m accordingly) there were 10 km of severe rapids. From time to time in the river there were met the chaotic conglomerations of boulders of height of up to 10-15 m. Because of the rather low level of water, on this site of the river a few "impassages" (the narrow slots between boulders, into which our catamaran could not squeeze itself) were formed; in these places it was necessary to carry the catamaran on the bank. At last, we have reached the four-meter waterfall (as we have understood, it is Kurrowong Waterfall). However it fell into the half-meter slot (but the width of our catamaran "Kulik" was about 2 m), so to squeeze our boat into it we could not. Soon it has followed also the 2.5-meter waterfall, and then the river has calmed down. So, it was thought, Kurrowong Waterfall is behind, and ahead there is the "pure" and simple site up to the Jackobs River (where the first, unknown, part of the route came to the end). However the reality has turned out to be more austere. In a few kilometres of quiet water after two mini-reservoirs (of length of 1-2 km each) we have approached to... the ten-meter waterfall (as it has appeared, after its survey, impassable in principle neither in small, nor in large water because of the heaving of the falling water onto a cliff). Even now we do not know precisely, which (the first or the third) from waterfalls is Kurrowong Waterfall, though it is thought, that the third. Resigning ourself to fate, we have carried the catamaran over this (the third) waterfall, and then have continued the rafting.
On the following site of the Snowy (of the length of about 1 km) there are met the severe rapids, then the river is simplified. However shortly before the mouth of the Jackobs River we have appeared in the rather severe and narrow (of width of 2.5-3 m) canyon with a number of the powerful water-throw-downs of up to 1.5 m height. Directly before the mouth of this tributary the Snowy calms down.
Thus, we successfully overcame the eighty-kilometre little-known site of the Snowy River. For six days of the rafting on this site we have not met any person, but have seen about 30 kangaroos and 4 snakes (as our acquaintances emphasized before the rafting, the snakes here are fatally dangerous, a few person was lost from them in this region, besides now there was the period of their special activity). But the meetings with a kangaroo were for us pleasant. These animals, as a rule, escaped, having seen us, but the some let us come near rather close.
After the mouth of the Jackobs River the second site of the route on the Snowy River began, well known for the local rafters. It has become less the obstacles, however there has been found a number of the rapids of 4 (4-5) severity grade. The first canyon has appeared in 5-6 km about after the Jackobs River. The entrance in it has turned out to be impassable for our catamaran, but we have passed through other rapids of this canyon. In 13-14 kilometres about we have crossed the border between New Wales and Victoria States (from the first have got in the second) and yet in 32 km have reached the McKillops Bridge. From here it was necessary to pass seventy kilometres up to the mouth of the Buchan River (where the sporting site of the Snowy comes to the end), overcoming the obstacles in three canyons (in the fourth, very beautiful, they were not).
The third gorge, named Tulloch Ard (it is located about in the middle of the discussed seventy-kilometre piece of the river), is the most interesting in the sporting respect, in it there is a number of severe rapids.
The fourth canyon is called "New Guinea" (why - I do not know). At all events, the 120-kilometre site from the Jackobs River to the Buchan River we have overcome for 4 days. As just after the mouth of the Jackobs River the road comes up to the Snowy (on the first site of the route the road along the Snowy was not) and the people became to occur, the structure of fauna has changed - it has become less kangaroo, but there have appeared... cows and horses.
Moreover, it has taken place in... the national park. In general it is necessary to notice, that in a few kilometres after the third waterfall (on the first site of the route) the river enters the national park and flows in it up to the end of the route (however, formally we have passed through three national parks, adjacent each to other). The presence of cows at such place, naturally, has surprised us (here we have remembered the Denali Park in Alaska, where anything similar could not take place). To the point, in the Australian national parks it is allowed to burn fires, that is forbidden categorically in the American ones. However, the possibility of preparation of food in a fire suited us certainly (though we have taken with self for any case the primus-stove). Except the cows, horses, kangaroo, snakes, swans, ducks, parrots and other birds, we have met four companies of the people (two fellows fished; one married couple and the family with the children splashed in water; three naked girls with interest watched the navigation on inflatable mattress of their same naked friend).
Next morning after the end of the rafting I have gone to town-ship Buchan (14 km from the place of our finish), have informed John Morrell about the end of our route, and in 1.5 hours he has arrived in the jeep to Buchan, has picked up me. We have come for Vladimir, and after it have set off to Jindabine. For the next day we have arrived to Sydney.
On December 24 I have gone to Koala Park zoo - I wanted very much to take in the hands and to stroke the real koala (the marsupial "bear"). I was lucky enough to make it. Koala has turned out to be soft, fluffy and kindly - such, which we got used to see him in films. In the zoo I have seen also other animals-residents of Australia. The variety of kinds of the kangaroo has amazed - on this continent there is a few tens of them, moreover there are the very small ones, of a cat size. I have liked very much a wombat - the rather large marsupial beast.
In the night from December 24 to 25 John and his wife Gen have arranged the supper in honour Christmas, coming in one day.
And in the morning on December 25 we have moved towards the international airport Sydney to depart to Moscow. However before the writing about flight, I shall inform some about the weather, accompanying us in Australia. If during 9.5 of 10 days of our rafting there was the dry and solar weather (we have got burnt by the sun even), in the middle of the tenth day it has rained. And it was proceeded for 4 days up to the our start from Sydney (and, may be, longer also, already after us - I do not know). Moreover on December 25 it was raining cats and dogs. It appeared, that it is the extremely unusual event in Australia: rains in such season are the large rarity.
So, on December 25 at 15 o'clock we have taken off from Sydney to Moscow by flight of Aeroflot 556. At first on the panel, indicating the departure time of aircrafts, it was illuminated the route: Sydney - Kuala-Lampur - Moscow. Then it has changed for new: Sydney - Bangkok - Moscow. Already in the aircraft it has been announced: Sydney - Bangkok - Tashkent - Moscow. In a half hour it has made more accurate: Sydney - Bangkok - Karachi - Moscow. Eventually we have arrived to Moscow on December 26 at 7.45. We have met the western Christmas at the flight.
Thus, my last expedition in the series of raftings from the highest peaks of all continents was completed.
EXPEDITION IN INDONESIA (ON NEW GUINEA ISLAND) (July 1995)
After my previous raftings on the rivers from all 8-km-peaks and from the highest peaks of all continents, there remained one mountain only, to descend on the river, flowing down which, I aspired - the highest peak of Oceania Mt.Jaya (5,030 m), located in Irian Jaya - the western (Indonesian) part of New Guinea island. But it was required to put very many efforts to carry out this expedition. It was the most expensive travelling. To get on New Guinea island, to have rafted there and to come back home, it was required more 3,000 dollars.
On July 7 (Friday), 1995 by flight of Aeroflot I have taken off to Jakarta. Making the intermediate landing in Dubai, we have arrived to the capital of Indonesia on Saturday about at 17-18 o'clock of the local time. I have bought beforehand the ticket for the flight Jakarta-Biak of the Indonesian company "Garuda" for July 9 (the start at 21.00), and I was going to spend one day in Jakarta. Therefore I have tried to learn from the compatriots, flying with me to Jakarta, about a cheap hotel, but it has appeared, that all of them are the "new Russians" and go to have a rest at 4-5-star hotels for about 100-150 dollars per day. In particular, I had the opportunity to spend the night with the tourists, the rest of which was organized by the Russian tourist firm "Discovery" and Indonesian firm "Blue Swan", at the hotel "Horizon" on the bank of the sea, but such pleasure would cost me 135 dollars. I could not to allow to self the such magnificence. Therefore I have been interested in the aircraft at the neighbour-Indonesian, where are in Jakarta the cheap hotels. He has told, that near the bus station Gambir in the Jaksa street. I have reached Gambir in one hour by the regular-route bus for 3,000 Rupees (on July 8, 1995 one American dollar was equal to 2,200 Rupees) and have then reached Jaksa in a taxi (truth is, it has been taken from me 7,000 Rupees, though this pleasure did not cost more than 3,000, but in Jakarta there has come the night, and I had not the choice). I have stayed at the hostel "Borneo". Here the room costs 25,000 Rupees per day only. The toilet and shower of the common using. The water in the shower, truth is, is cold only. But for me it was main, that I pay for room 11 dollars, instead of 135. And the contingent at this hostel was suitable - the young guys from America and Western Europe.
The aircraft from Jakarta to Biak had to depart on Sunday at 21 o'clock only, therefore I could devote a large part of this day to the search of the detailed map of Irian Jaya province (the Indonesian part of New Guinea island) and the acquaintance with Jakarta. I succeeded in finding the map, not very detailed, but it was nevertheless better that one, which was available at me. I have then decided to visit the familiar tourists at the hotel "Horizon" and to examine its neighbourhood. It has appeared, that this hotel was arranged in the magnificent rest-park with the huge amount of special attractions, especially on the bank of the sea. Here is also the aqua-park, which I with acquaintances have visited. The main entertainment here were the "water hills" the descent from hills on troughs with running water. Earlier, when I saw this show on TV set, it seemed, that the lowered person felt any poignant sensations. Alas, the reality has disappointed me. The descent from this hill cannot be compared with the overcoming of rapids on the river, even easiest. Because of the bad quality of the seams between the separate sections of road, at descent I thought only about one - as though to don't tear my slips over these seams. But for the little children in the aqua-park there is the magnificent rest.
At 20 o'clock I have arrived to the international airport, named Sukarno, to take off to Biak. The service on the internal distant avia-lines in Indonesia has pleasantly amazed. It is not lower the level of Aeroflot, when that serves the international flights.
I have flied to Biak on July 10 at 5 a.m. By 7 o'clock I managed to receive at local police the permit for visiting the Kemabu and Darewo Rivers. And at once I have purchased the ticket for the flight Biak-Nabire of aircompany "Merpati".
To make successfully for 2 hours these two things - about it I could dream only. Everything was perfectly, but... But there has come a large strip of bad luck. After arrival to Nabire it lay ahead of me the last flight Nabire-Sugapa to the Kemabu River. This flight also is carried out by "Merpati", moreover two times per a week only - on Tuesdays and Fridays. But now it was Monday, 7 a.m. It meant, that if I depart to Nabire at 11 o'clock, I shall have arrived there at 12 o'clock and shall have time, perhaps, to purchase to self the ticket for Tuesday for flight Nabire-Sugapa and to be noted at the local police. I have even tried at the office of "Merpati" in Biak to purchase the ticket for this flight, but I was told, that Nabire-Sugapa is the local airline, and the tickets for it are sold in Nabire only. But then the trouble began. "My" aircraft (which should fly from Biak to Nabire) has broken, and the flight began to be postponed, postponed and again postponed. Eventually it was put off for the morning of Tuesday, and it meant, that I am late for the race Nabire-Sugapa on Tuesday. But it has turned out more yet offensively. When we at 9 a.m. have arrived to Nabire, the aircraft to Sugapa still remained here because of the non-flying weather in region of Sugapa. But the free seats in it already were not. I was advised to address to the pilots of one more aircompany - "Trigana", but this company also for the nearest days did not plan the flight to Sugapa. I have already become reconciled to an idea, that it is necessary for three days to "stick around" in Nabire (it is small ordinary town-ship, in which there was the unusual for me only the fact, that here, in basic, Negros-Papuans live) and have gone to the agency "Merpati" to buy the ticket on Friday. But here the new impact waited me. From this Tuesday "Merpati" has gone over to one flight Nabire-Sugapa per week, namely - on Tuesdays. Taking into consideration, that I should be in Indonesia for three weeks (to change date of the return flight from Jakarta to Moscow for later term I could not, as had the PEX's ticket with the unchangeable date of flight), and from these three weeks it is necessary during one complete week to stick around in Nabire - this idea has wildly upset me.
Then I was advised to address to the small private aircompanies MAF and AMA, which make the irregular flights both to Sugapa, and to other settlements on the Kemabu River (in particular, to Pogapa and Bilai). For the next day the aircraft of AMA will fly to Bilai, but for this flight all tickets were sold also. And till Saturday AMA was not going to fly to Sugapa or Pogapa, or Bilai. There remained the company MAF. Here I have got to know the Americam pilot Dwite Fibley, working on the aircraft of this company.
To the point, just from him I have learned, that the settlements Pogapa and Bilai are just on the Kemabu River, because the perfect map of Nabire-Sugapa region was not in Nabire at the office of aircompany "Merpati" even. Fibley has told me, that in the morning on Thursday his company plans the flight Nabire-Timika, but if at this time in Timika there will be the fog (that is there frequently), he will fly on the route Nabire-Pogapa and can take away me with self. For this variant I began to hope.
Meantime I have received the permission for visit the Kemabu and Darewo Rivers from the local police also, but for this purpose it was required to go to the police office twice.
It is necessary also to note, that in Nabire I have stayed at the hotel "Nusantara". Depending on a class of rooms, the cost of stay at it (with four-time food) varies from 26,000 Rupees per day up to 80 dollars about. I, naturally, stayed in the room for 26,000 Rupees (truth is, it - for three beds, so anybody could join up with me yet). The room is good, however in the house with such rooms there is no shower in general. But very much meal is giving, and it is tasty. To the point, on territory of the hotel there grow the fruit trees "jambu", their fruits have the rather pleasant taste.
In Biak and Nabire I have seen the threemarans of the local residents. These ships consist of the basic hull (usual boat) and two additional floats (usual logs), "carried out" for some distance from the boat.
In connection with my new knowledge in geography of the region of the Kemabu and Darewo Rivers, which I have received from Dwite Fibley, I have a bit changed the strategy of my travelling. Originally I planned, having arrived to Sugapa, to have rafted on the Kemabu River (after the confluence with the Dega River before settlement Bilai it is called by the Darewo), and then on foot to come back to Sugapa, from whence by air to come back to Nabire. Now I could in principle depart back also both from Pogapa, and from Bilai, if there will be at this time the aircrafts of companies MAF and AMA. But beforehand (one week ahead) it was not known, where and when just will be the aircrafts of these companies, and whether will they arrive to Pogapa or Bilai in general. But from Sugapa regularly (on Tuesdays) the aircraft "Twin Otter" of company "Merpati" flies, however, to use it, I should in addition trek with a rucksack and pipes 60 km about, that is should lose for this three days yet. Therefore I have decided to carry out the trekking and rafting as soon as possible (to go at full speed from a morning up to an evening), to come back to Pogapa or Bilai (they are close by) and there already to decide (depending on the information about the flights of aircrafts of the companies MAF and AMA), is it necessary me to go back to Sugapa or to wait an aircraft here. However on Thursday I have not departed somewhere. The aircraft of the company MAF has not departed to Pogapa (though in the morning I have bought the ticket for it, my luggage was weighed, and the aircompany workers were even going to send me to Pogapa). Dwite Fibley has informed, that, perhaps, may fly to Pogapa on Saturday, but it is scarcely probable. In the company AMA I was told, that their aircraft will fly to Bilai only next week. I have been sad very much. But then, at last, I was lucky. It has appeared, that the aircraft of "Merpati" still will fly tomorrow (on Friday) to Sugapa, and one of the employees of the hotel was able still to take the ticket to me for it.
I managed to learn, that on following Tuesday an aircraft of the company MAF will fly from Pogapa, and on Wednesday an aircraft of AMA - from Bilai. So the question about the returning to Sugapa somehow no longer arose, and I intended to come back on Wednesday from Bilai.
In the evening at the hotel I have got to know the Australian rafter-and-climber Angus Finney. He showed me the detailed (of 2.5 km per 1 cm scale) map of the region of peak Jaya (Punchak Jaya). And then it has appeared, that the tourist authorities from Jayapura (with which I corresponded during 1.5 years) gave me the completely incorrect information that Sugapa is located on the Kemabu River. It has appeared, that it in general places the other side of the watershed between the basins of the Kemabu (Darewo) River and the Tariku (Mamberamo) River. And to the first (with the stream) on the Kemabu River settlement Ugimba it will be necessary to go 20-25 kilometres about, having overcome this watershed. Already it was 11 p.m., but next day at 5 a.m. the registration for "my" aircraft to Sugapa should be, therefore I have asked Angus to cut off for me a piece of the map with the image of the top site of the Kemabu River. The Ausrtalian made it kindly.
And on Friday in the morning I already flied to Sugapa. The laying below mountain massif (Maoke Moutains) has produced the huge impression on me. There are the young mountains obviously, with the numerous gorges and sharp ridges. And, as we flew up closer to Mt.Jaya, the ridges of mountains became sharper. Their sides were covered by dense forests.
One hundred persons about met our aircraft. Many people have come for the arriving load, but the majority - because of the simple curiosity. It is necessary to notice at once, that almost whole population of New Guinea island consists of Negros-Papuans. They became to meet in Biak already, in Nabire them - the majority, and in Sugapa and in general in all region of my rafting the Papuans live only. The several tribes dwell here. In particular, the Papuans from tribe "saya" helped me to carry a rucksack (at least, they named self so). During my trekking and rafting I have not met any person, speaking English. The Papuans did not understand me absolutely, and in this connection there arose for me the problems of different sort.
I do not know, are whether those Papuans, which I met, cannibals, but they were friendly rather with me. At least, anybody has not undertaken the attempt to eat me. However in one of villages there have stolen from me the waterproof trousers and jacket, in which I should raft. And also there have stolen practically all my meal products, except for tea and sugar partially. And to understand (but not to justify) this act it is possible: there around the small children with swollen from hunger stomachs. There is almost nothing to eat, except "ubi" (it is something like the sweet potatoes) and similar fruits.
The majority of Papuans-men (and practically all boys of 8-16 years old) go constantly with a bow and arrows, and also with a large knife (with its help they quickly plane new arrows), and shoot at everything, that moves (a bird whether, an animal whether). The reaction at Papuans is sheer magnificent. At me my porter-Papuan has almost killed the flied near us bird by the log, launching it as a boomerang.
Many Papuans-men go absolutely nude, but with pipes, fastened from the front.
I slept some times in their huts, having the basis as a circle. The nights in mountains are cold, therefore in middle of the hut there is the hearth, and at night on the same place a fire from large logs is made up, which burns during all night almost. The people sleep, settling down radially, by legs to a fire.
At one of villages the people went, whole smeared with dirt, and smeared by this dirt each other. Probably, there was any holiday.
So, I have arrived to Sugapa. With the help of one of policemen I have employed a porter, which (as it has appeared subsequently) was a policeman (but about it I have found out already in Ugimba). He somehow has agreed to carry my rucksack up to Ugimba for 10,000 Rupees (and I shall drag the pipes the basis of the catamaran frame). Both policemen escorted me to police, where have required my permit. Having seen it only and making in it the mark about my arrival to Sugapa, they have calmed down, have fed me with rice and did not detain. The truth is, they recommended me to take one more porter, but I have refused. Nevertheless, when we were set out, the second porter was still tagged along with us.
The trail lead sharply upward (I have at once recollected Nepalese trails), and soon my porter got tired. The second porter has taken from him my rucksack, and they have gone further, replacing each other. I was compelled to agree with such variant.
The trail still lead upward. We crept so during half-day and, at last, have passed the pass-point and became to be lowered downward (but, as it has appeared hereinafter, it was not yet that, watershed, range, after which we should get in the Kemabu/Darewo River basin). It has rained.
It is necessary to tell, that the weather on the route was for me the largest unexpectedness. In Big Soviet Encyclopaedia there was absent the table of the precipitation (depending on each month) on New Guinea island and in all Indonesia. Therefore for a basis of my reckoning up of weather in Irian Jaya I have taken the data (from this encyclopaedia) of Darwin town, which is located in the north of Australia, that is quite near Irian Jaya. From this table it followed, that rains begin to pour at the beginning of autumn, and in a spring and in a summer the precipitation are minimum. But in reality, as things turned out, it rains in New Guinea in July each day, and there are frequently the downpours with thunder-storms. Due to this and clay ground, the trails in Maoke Mountains in July don't dry up practically. And here, when we have begun abruptly to be lowered from the pass downward (I already mentioned above, that the country here is sharply broken, it is necessary to overcome very abrupt ascents and descents), the trail has become ghastly. The wet clay and wet roots of trees (directed, as out of spite, along the trail) did not "held" me, and I "left" downward some times. The porters went barefoot and, due to this (they clung to ground and roots by all fingers of legs), fell less often, than I. And then we have got in general in the wild jungle (to the point, I shall note, that for two days of the trekking up to Ugimba nobody has met us on the way). We fell down up to knees in liquid clay, in several places the trail leaded through the dense webs of roots. Frequently for crossing the falling trees were used. And sometimes around us there was the real bog. Besides it is necessary to note, that thanking to the round-the-year positive temperature and the abundant precipitation, here the trees are very high, and their crowns block each other practically. Therefore we crept in any twilight. Yes, jungle is not a place for pleasant walking. It is necessary to tell, that lower Ugimba (with the stream of the Kemabu) the trail will become a little bit better. But there, because of the most powerful downpours, we shall frequently go directly on the streams up to the waist in water. And lower Selemama only the trail will acquire the more-less decent character.
According to the map, between Sugapa and Ugimba there are in a bee-line twenty kilometres about. I even thought at first, that one day will enough for us to reach Ugimba. But because of the bad trail (besides it looped very much) to reach Ugimba for a day it was not possible. We have spent the night near any small river before the beginning of ascent to the pass on the watershed range. The Papuans-porters have brought lots of firewood for the night and slept near a fire. The night was on the whole quiet, though from time to time someone went around us, and shouts whether birds, whether animals rang out sometimes.
In the morning of next day we have continued the trekking. All unpleasant things, that was on the eve, have repeated. But, eventually, we have still reached Ugimba. And here I have seen for the first time the Kemabu River.
Now I shall tell, what the Kemabu represents itself. On that site (between Ugimba and lower Bilai), where I have visited, the river has the average slope about 30 m/km. The rafters know, that it is the rather large slope. Here the Kemabu is the river of 5-6 severity grade, more correct, 5 sg with the numerous elements of 6 sg. In several places the river is literally buried by stone boulders, though, in basic, the obstacles have jet character (and they become complicated during rains).
But it is not the most dangerous. In the former-USSR only I leaded and participated in ten raftings of the maximum sixth (tenth as in the USA) grade. But the Kemabu was dangerous by that it was practically impossible to reconnoitre it normally. The trail frequently goes far from the river, and the bank is the impassable jungle. It is impossible to examine the more-or-less extend site of the river ahead, that is during the rafting it is necessary to pass the majority of obstacles without the previous reconnaissance. But another thing is still worse. In case of turning over, if you have broken away from the boat, you lose practically everything - as the catamaran, as all things. Besides your life finds in danger: you see, it is extremely difficult to get out to the trail through the impassable jungle and bogs, in addition the trail at times move aside from the Kemabu for about kilometres about. Besides, as it is emphasized in all reference books about Irian Jaya, the numerous poisonous snakes and spiders, after a bite of which the person dies in a few minutes, represent the large danger for the people.
Eventually I have decided to raft without things on the sites of the river, where the trail goes not so far from it (and I shall check up this beforehand). But I shall carry the catamaran over other sites. This strategy, correct for my conditions only (it was possible to essentially change it in case of two or three participants), has required the additional efforts, as at first it was necessary to pass on foot some site of the trail, to be convinced, that it goes not far off from the river, in the most convenient place to descend to the river and on the bank to leave any easily discernible mark (for this purpose I used my brightly-red jacket). Besides I was accompanied with a porter with all my things, except the catamaran. Then I came back to the catamaran and rafted on the river up to the bright label and porter.
By such way I have rafted on the site of the Kemabu just below Ugimba, the sites before settlement Emondi and before Bilai.
During the rafting the special incidents with me did not arise. On Tuesday in the afternoon I already was before the bridge over the Darewo River (the Kemabu turned into it earlier a bit) between Bilai and Pogapa (Bilai - on the right bank of the river, Pogapa - on the left, and the trail after Ugimba went on the left bank). Tomorrow in the morning an aircraft from Bilai to Nabire should fly, and the abrupt ascent from the bridge to Bilai lay in front of us (me and porter) yet, therefore I hastened, but have decided, still at last, to pass in the catamaran two sites of the river yet - this time already before the numerous spectators, assembled near the bridge. I have overcome the first site without problems, previously reconnoitring it. But time was not to reconnoitre the second site. Unfortunately, the gondolas of the catamaran let out an air strongly. Besides, the return valves of gondolas (for their pumping by air) were of an extremely unsuccessful design, and a lot of time it was required in order to pump up the gondolas, but I had not this time. Therefore I did not become to pump up the gondolas of the catamaran, though they have very drained the air. Probably, the syndrome of the finish mood had an effect also, when in thoughts you have already finished the rafting and relax. In short, in one of "holes" the whole air in the gondolas has left in the bow part, and the catamaran over the stern has turned over.
I have seized by one hand the paddle, and by another hand have grasped the catamaran. Then it has draged us into the next severe rapid, but I am tenaciously kept for the ship and have not allowed to tear off myself from it. Just after the rapid I have turned over the catamaran, have got on it and wanted to moor to the bank, but already had not time to make it, as we have been breathed in the next difficult (of 5 or 6 sg) rapid. It was necessary to pass it. I was afraid most of all, that the drained gondolas will have let me down again, and I left from all "holes" in every possible way. Fortunately, everything ended safely, and after the rapid I have quietly moored to the left bank.
The trail has appeared not far off from the river. As soon as I have risen up, three fellows-Papuans have run to me. We together have lowered downward, I have disassembled the catamaran, and these guys have carried it to the bridge, where I was met by the crowd of aboriginals, looking at me with bewilderment (and even with disappointment). As it was found out later, someone has told them, that I have perished, they have already discussed my death and have calmed down, and here suddenly I put in an appearance. We were already late strongly. Therefore I have quickly laid gondolas into the rucksack, have connected the catamaran pipes, and we went to Bilai. When it became to darken already, we have reached this settlement. There the Catholic pastor-Papuan, speaking English, has met us. The pastor has invited me to spend the night in his house. I, certainly, have accepted the invitation. The kind owner was called Jack Takimai. He had the wife and three children. For my question, as is it possible for Catholic tutor to have the wife (as far as I know, it is not allowed - we know many tragic histories about the non-realized love of the young Catholic priests), the pastor Jack has answered, that for the radical inhabitants of Irian Jaya the exception is made. To converse with the pastor Jack it was very interesting. His wife is the teacher at local school. They have one son and two daughters. They enable to the son himself to choose future, but from three variants only - pilot, doctor or pastor. The son is four years old, and while he has not chosen his future occupation finally.
Except the pleasant conversation, a shower (truth is, cold), clean bed and, the great thing, tasty European food and coffee were suggested me. The fact is, that the problem of meal has arisen already at the beginning of the rafting. In Ugimba there have been pilfered from me all grocery reserves, except tea and half of sugar. To the point, in this village there live forty persons about, not more, and for the local policeman (which my porter on the site of the way from Sugapa to Ugimba has turned to be) it will be no trouble to find out, who made it (I have asked him to return me the stolen things and products). But he has not made it, moreover has taken from me 35,000 Rupees for spending the night in the cold shed without windows (such rest in the shed is called by him "bisok").
In general, as it has appeared (however, it was possible to foresee), the local policemen did not miss me from sight. The truth is, I thought, that (as liaison-officers in Nepal) they (or their people) will simply accompany me. However in Irian Jaya the policemen voluntarily and unconditionally turned into porters and carried my rucksack. Moreover only on their territory, from their village up to the following one. Thus six porters were changed. Besides not I changed them, but they informed me, that from there such-and-such a person will be go. And the closer we advanced to Bilai, the more the requirements of these porters-policemen grew. If to the first policemen I have given 15,000 Rupees, to the last already 30,000. But I digressed a bit from the problem, connected with meal.
Since the practically all grocery reserves have been stolen from me, I have become to starve - at local villages the people ate only culinary roots, and there was not hint at a shop even. The truth is, I was given 2-3 potatoes per a day (it is norm of feed of Papuans), but it was obviously insufficiently for me. I deadened hunger by tea (at first with sugar, and then - when it was terminated - without it). I drank tea in plenty as in the morning, as in the afternoon, as in the evening. And after 4 days of such starvation in the pastor house here are offered me coffee, tea with sugar, and then - excellent dinner! And everything is in a very cultural manner: forks, spoons, knifes, napkins. To the point, in Indonesia (including restaurants) food is ate with the help of a spoon and a fork simultaneously, without a knife. Moreover, a spoon is kept in the right hand, and a fork - in the left.
The aircraft to Nabire should depart in the morning. And here it has appeared, that the pastor pluralizes as the radio operator at airdrome and as the seller of airtickets. Moreover the transmitting-and-receiving set and the booking-office are located in one of rooms of his two-floor house. Towards the end he has given me the visitor-opinion's book about the region and about the reception in his house. I have written, that I am pleased very much. And I was going already to leave, but then have noticed, that the pastor waits something. I have guessed, that the friendship is a good thing, but to pay for the shelter it is still necessary, and have asked the pastor: are 50,000 Rupees the normal payment? He has answered, that quite. I have parted with this sum without the slightest regret - you see, after that I have tested in jungle, the rest in the house of the pastor was the sheer paradise.
The aircraft has arrived to Bilai in the morning at 7 o'clock, and at 7.15 we have departed back. The young fellow from Wales piloted, working under three-year contract with aircompany AMA. He was very pleased with the conditions of work, but complained of local kitchen. During the flight the pilot pointed me by hand to the mountain Punchak Jaya (Karstens), the highest peak of Oceania. It was surprisingly beautiful.
In Nabire it was possible to get the ticket to Biak for 11 o'clock. But... This time the aircraft was in serviceability, however there was not pilot. He has appeared (has flied from other populated area) at 14 o'clock only, and we arrived to Biak at 15.30. I have rented a room for 52,000 Rupees at the airport hotel "Iriani" (at which already stayed the night) and have gone to police.
Here it is necessary to stop on the very important strategic moment in my expedition in Indonesia. During the almost two-year correspondence with the tourist authorities of Irian Jaya they offered only one variant of the rafting from the mountain Jaya - on the Kemabu and Darewo Rivers, as all other rivers are almost inaccessible and difficult to reconnoitre. The map of Irian Jaya (truth is, bad), which confirmed the above, was sent me. But as this map was bad, in Jakarta I purchased another, more detailed, map. And suddenly on it I have seen the road along the Ajkwa (Otomona Tamur) River, running down massif Jaya southward from settlement Tembagapura up to Amamapare and flowing near the airport Timika. It has surprised me: what has the road made in jungle for? And then during flight from Jakarta to Biak the magazine "Garuda" for July 1995 hits in my hands, in which there is the article. From it follows, that southward from the peak Jaya in region of the mountain Grasberg the huge reserves of gold and copper are found out. Under the statement of the author of the article Kal Muller, the mountain Grasberg harbours the largest over the world reserves of gold and the third over the world reserves of copper. Here is the famous Freeport. And centre of this region is town Tembagapura. In the magazine its photo was even present. And, it turns out, there are actively worked the "greens", environment defenders. They do everything so, that the extraction of gold and copper renders as small as possible harm to an environment.
It became clear, why the Indonesian authorities have constructed the road in jungle in record terms. I was inexpressibly delighted this information. I have decided, that after the rafting on the Kemabu and Darewo I shall do attempt "to break" (but officially!) to region Timika-Tembagapura and during if only one day (between these populated areas - 50 km about) to have rafted on the Ajkwa River.
Then, already in Nabire, looking the detailed map of Angus Finney, I have seen, that Tembagapura is located a little at a certain distance from the Ajkwa River, and it is the most convenient to begin the route from the automobile bridge over the Ajkwa between Timika and Tembagapura. Just during one day I can have rafted without things, leaving them in Timika.
But there was the main problem - whether will the police in Biak give me the permission for visit Timika-Tembagapura region, the more so that there found out gold and copper (and I can be ranked to Russian spies). Besides in the visa, which I have received in Moscow, under my request the places of my visiting of Irian Jaya were specified: Nabire - Sugapa - Kemabu River - Darewo River. On the basis of this record in the visa the police of Biak has given me the permit for visiting the above-stated places. About Timika and the Ajkwa River, naturally, in the visa it was nothing, and the police of Biak without fuss could not allow me to visit this region. Therefore I have decided, that at first I shall rafted on the Kemabu and Darewo Rivers, and then shall return to Biak and try to ask the policeman, being concerned with the permits for visiting Irian Jaya of the foreigners, to have type additionally in my permit the words "Timika - Tembagapura - Ajkwa River", so that he will not carry to the chief of Biak police for the signature the second permit with my name. I shall tell at once, that I succeeded in the realization of conceived plan. The policeman has still agreed and has typed the necessary words in my permit. The aircraft from Biak to Timika would take off on July 21, and I was going on July 23 to depart from Timika (either to Ambon, or to Ujung Pandang). Therefore the policeman has typed for me the date of the departure from Timika - July 23. But the next problem has arisen here.
Two days before the flight Biak-Timika for it there were already no free seats. The next flight should be only on July 23, that is on that day, when the specified in my permit term of my stay in Timika expires. Therefore I have decided in every possible way to try to depart there on July 21.
Alas, on Thursday (on July 21) anything was not solved. There were so many those who wished to depart to Timika, that even talk about me was not, as before me on the "waiting list" of "Merpati" there was almost a hundred people. Moreover, it has appeared, that till August 1 the free seats in aircrafts on the line Biak-Timika are not present.
At the hotel I have moved into the cheapest room - for 29,000 Rupees per day. Also I made a trip to the police and have asked policemen to prolong me the term of stay in Timika till July 27.
And on Saturday I succeeded in reserving the seat in economy class for the flight Biak-Jayapura on July 25 and in purchasing the ticket on July 24 for the direct flight Biak-Timika (but this flight is additional, "extra", and whether will it be, or not - anybody for the present did not know precisely). In addition, I had chances to depart on July 23 to Timika, but they were excessively small.
By the evening the wounds on my legs, received at the trekking, became suddenly inflamed, the temperature has unexpectedly risen, and the fit of shivering became to "beat" me. "Whether have I really caught in jungle any infection? ", - I has thought. Urgently I became to "eat" different medicines, which were in my first-aid set. Not knowing, that can help better, I have eaten both aspirin, and sulfadimetoksin, both paracetamol, and citramon. By the morning the temperature abated, I have felt self normally. But in the following evening the history has repeated. I have done the same procedure, as on the eve. Again by the following morning everything was normalized.
On July 23 I could not again depart from Biak to Timika, but have departed on July 24 by "extra"-route. In Timika it was raining. But it was petty trouble in comparison with that was farther. When I was marked in Timika police, it has appeared, that just higher this town there begins the special zone "Freeport" of Indonesian Ministry of State-Security, for penetration in which the special permission of government is required.
The word "free" sounded derisively as regards me, as I was not admitted to visit this zone. Moreover, when I have been brought from police to the airport branch of "Freeport security", the local state-security man not only has not permitted me to get to Tembagapura, but at once has xerox-copied my permit and my biographical data and has sent out by fax to many-many addresses. There was the impression, that he really assumes, that I am the Russian spy.
The state-security man became to ask me, why the words "Timika - Tembagapura - Ajkwa River" are typed by the typewriter with other tape (these words were printed less brightly, than previous). And who did it type? Really the question sounded so: whether have I typed it? It's a good thing, I did not make it, and not I corrected the earlier specified in the permit date (July 23) of departure from Timika for July 27. Naturally, at once there was sent the fax to Biak for confirmation that it was typed at the police of Biak. I expected the similar "fuss" in Tembagapura, but not in Timika.
In short, it was forbidden me to go to Tembagapura, and it remained only one - to raft on the Ajkwa River from Timika. And I started preparing for it. But at first it was necessary to move in a hotel. The airport state-security man has kindly informed me that in Timika, except one superhotel ("lux"), there are only two hotels, where I may stay - "Serayu" and "Amole". At "Serayu" the cheapest room cost 47,000 Rupees, however the free such rooms were not, and there was only one room for 160,000 Rupees per day. Naturally, this was inconvenient for me. Fortunately, at "Amole" there turned out to be free the room for 35,000 Rupees. Here I have stayed.
Though the rain poured continuously, I have gone for the investigation. As I have understood from the arrangement of numerous roads, going frequently almost in parallel each other, and from placing of the check-posts of state-security, in the region of Timika the roads of three types are - for cars with usual people and visitors (like me), for machines and people, working in the zone "Freeport", and, at last, for lorries with ore (or other strategic load), rushing at large speed. Between Timika and the river the roads of different type are located. Moreover, the road of the second type was directly before that channel of the Ajkwa River, where I was going to begin the rafting. And simply to move from the first road to the second one it is impossible, as between them the channel with water is. And there, where these roads join (it is already above the airport), the state-security check-post is located.
For the following day (on July 25), when the driver, employed by me, has tried in a car to drive me (with the pumped up gondolas and assembled frame of the catamaran) to the river through this crossing, I was almost arrested - you see, I "tried to get" on the strategic road of the second type. I have ordered the driver to go back, and already self (alone) have carried the gondolas and frame to the river over this, of the second type, road. This time anybody from state-security agents has not paid attention to me, and I could to raft on the Ajkwa River.
On the Ajkwa River from Timika the obstacles are not severe. The truth is, at the beginning of the right channel of the Ajkwa it is necessary to jump from the dam and to pass through the standing roller, the size of which varies depending on a level of water in the river. And then there were the simple shallows. In several places the right channel (on which I went mainly) made the way through bamboo thicket. The fast sites alternated with slow. I rafted so during a half-day. And, at last, at 15 o'clock about I have found myself in a trap in the dense bamboo bushes near the right bank.
The water flew in the channel rather quickly, but the whole space above the channel was blocked by dense bamboo bushes. That's all, I have arrived. The rafting was finished, but it was necessary yet to go out on a bank. A half of hour has been required for me to reach, at first, the hard ground, chopping the pass through this bamboo thicket, and then to carry the catamaran to the bank. Further, previously disassembling my ship, I have gone out on a road and in a truck have reached Timika. So, I succeeded in the rafting on the Ajkwa River nevertheless.
And on the eve I, at last, was lucky with the air ticket the employee of the company "Merpati" has sold me the ticket from Timika to Jakarta (through Denpasar) not for July 27 (as it was reserved earlier), but for 26-th.
Thus, on the Ajkwa River I have rafted and tomorrow shall depart to Jakarta. The my mood has risen. Besides, I went to look at the other, flowing near Timika (but as distinct from the Ajkwa, being west of Timika), small Kalga River. On its bank the excellent base of rest (with small houses in the Papuan style, bar, restaurant, beach, mini-zoo) is located.
It was the base of club of swimmers and yachtmen of Timika (I, truth is, mentally have been sarcastic about the yachtmen in overland Timika; however, they can hold their yachts on the sea in Amamapare). The employees of the base invited me to stay there, but I understood, that the residing at the base obviously is more expensive, than at "Amole", therefore have refused.
So, I should tomorrow in the evening arrive to Jakarta, and I shall have in a reserve two days up to the start to Moscow.
July 26 was the day of flights on the route Timika - Biak - Ambon - Ujung Pandang - Denpasar (on Bali island) - Jakarta. The last flight (Denpasar-Jakarta) was in the aerobus DC-10.
These flights have taken 9.5 hours plus more one hour to reach the hostel "Borneo", where I stayed the night in Jakarta earlier. Fortunately, there was yet the free room for 23,000 Rupees per day. Here I was going to stay two nights before departure to Moscow.
On July 27 I have visited Directorat of Tourism. From the officers of this Directorat I have learned, that usually the foreigners rafted in Indonesia in two places - on Sulawesi and Kalimantan. It had to be not less than four persons in a team.
There is the very little money left at me.
On July 28 I have purchased the souvenirs (t-shirts and pens), and the money came to its close. Therefore I have decided to spend the day, left up to the departure, at the hostel.
On July 29 by the flight of Aeroflot 566 at 18 o'clock I have taken off from Jakarta and on July 30 have landed in Moscow. That's all, my Indonesian expedition on New Guinea island was finished.
I succeeded to have rafted (moreover for the first time obviously) on the Kemabu, Darewo and Ajkwa Rivers, running down Mt.Jaya (Karstens, 5,030 m) - the highest peak of Oceania.
Thus I have finished also the series of raftings from the highest peaks of all continents and Oceania, and on the whole the superseries of raftings from the highest peaks of the world (8-km-peaks and the highest peaks of all continents and Oceania). The largest dream in my life came true.
RAFTING ON THE BLUE NILE (ETHIOPIA)
After consummation of the series of the raftings from the highest peaks of the world - the 8-km-peaks and the highest peaks of all continents and Oceania, it remained at me unfinished one more small (consisting from two routes) series of the raftings on the mountain sources of two greatest rivers of the world - the Amazon and the Nile. And if in March 1993 I succeeded in rafting the upper part of the Amazon - the Maranyon River, one of the sources of the Nile - the Blue Nile (Abbay) - should be subdued yet. And I succeeded in making it in December 1995.
On December 1 by the flight of Aeroflot 455 I have arrived from Moscow to the capital of Ethiopia Addis Ababa. My companion Vladimir Kuznetsov could not go together with me and should get to Addis Ababa (through Cairo) on December 6. Before his arrival I was going to learn the situation in the country, to carry out the investigation of several difficult sites of the Blue Nile and independently to raft from Tana Lake the part of the route. But at first it was necessary to settle down in Ethiopia - you see, here any our acquaintance was not, and with any Ethiopian tourist firm we did not keep in touch.
On the arrival to Addis Ababa I was dumbfounded by the supercritical estimations of the situation in the country, which were made by a rank of the employees of our embassy. They in one vote asserted, that without the appropriate governmental papers-permits for rafting and the guides, accompanying me from Addis Ababa, my rafting is doomed to failure (I shall be imprisoned or, at all, killed). Ethiopia on the living standard of the population takes one of the last places over the world, somewhere 192-nd, there is over-all unemployment. Certainly, all this has spoiled the mood very much. But I could not, having arrived to Ethiopia, refuse the rafting on the Blue Nile! The only thing, with what I have agreed, that to Bahr Dar from Addis Ababa it is necessary to fly by air, instead of to go by the bus (as I planned earlier). It has appeared, that the ticket for the plane there and back costs 62 dollars, that was quite tolerant. One of the employees of Russian Embassy Vladimir has taken me to the hotel "Holiday", where the single room cost 108 byrs (1 dollar was officially equal to 6.35 Byrs).
I bought the ticket (for December 2 to Bahr Dar and for December 5 - back) at the hotel "Hilton" (there is the Agency of "Ethiopian Airlines"), and the met before this hotel one of passers-by has told me, that in five minutes of walking from here there is Imperial Palace, where one time per year (just today) Orthodox Christians (this school of Christianity has the roots in Visantia and Egypt) open for strangers the memorial-basement, where are kept the mummies of emperor Menelik II, his wife and daughter, and also (in a coffin) the remains of the last emperor of Ethiopia (they were brought here recently). Therefore, after that, as I have taken the ticket for the flights up to Bahr Dar and back, and I had the free time, I have decided to use the given opportunity to get inwards the memorial. And just at this time I was hailed by some young fellow, which was ready to take me to Imperial Palace.
To photograph this Palace (under the pretext, that there are the military objects - and the observation towers with the soldiers really surrounded the Palace) it was categorically forbidden. The fellow "has transferred" me to some elderly person, well knowing the English language and the history of Ethiopia. He has carried out the rather interesting excursion through the Palace and adjoining to it structures (to the point, one of the pictures under the Palace vault represented the victory of the local inhabitants under the management of Menelik II over Italians in 1896). It is interesting, that the Ethiopian Christians-Orthodoxes are dressed practically so as Moslems in Pakistan - they wear the white long attires and caps.
My both guides have also shown me the cheaper, than "Holiday", hotel "Bahr Dar" with rooms for 60 byrs per day, and also have offered to visit the church gallery-museum. I have agreed: if I have got to Addis Ababa, and the free time is, the sin is to don't be the usual tourist. The gallery-museum also made good impression (there were the every possible statuettes from silver and ivory, and also a lot of different interesting all sorts of things). However after the excursion my guides have requested for it 200 byrs, and it was necessary a long time to bargain for the essential reducing of this sum.
Having returned to the hotel "Holiday", I had dinner, and then with photocameras have gone to look the town. The huge amount of beggars was remembered, the almost all met children pestered to me with the offer to sponsor them. But the town has not made on me the special impression. Then I have again reached Imperial Palace and "silently" have photographed it. Having returned to the hotel, I have boiled tea. I was going tomorrow to get up at 5.30 in order at 6 o'clock to leave for the airport, as the aircraft to Bahr Dar will depart at 7.30 (to the point, the Ethiopian time and Moscow time coincide).
In the morning of next day I have flied to Bahr Dar. Unexpectedly for me (so for the previous day in streets of Addis Ababa I have met only three foreigners, and they all - in the region of hotel "Hilton", where the white people, in basic, stay) in the aircraft there were rather many white tourists. Practically all of them stay in Bahr Dar at two hotels - "Tana" (the most expensive) and "Blue Nile Spring". I have stayed at the second. From it up to the Abbay River (Blue Nile) there is about half of kilometre. At once after the arrival to the hotel I have left the things in one of rooms (it, to the point, costs 50 byrs per day) and have gone to look the river. At once one fellow has adjoined to me as "guide". It is necessary to tell, that because of the unemployment the almost each second in Ethiopia begs alms or becomes "guide", that is accompanies you there, where it is necessary, renders of different sort information services. Certainly, not free-of-charge. In Bahr Dar the situation is not better, than in Addis Ababa, and different "guides" constantly "catch" you.
The Blue Nile in Bahr Dar rises from Tana Lake. Having come up to the river, I have seen, that here the Abbay is rather quiet. The water - of slightly green colour. I wanted on the same day to look also the Tississat Waterfall (of 45 meters height) and - the great thing - the site before it (so as then, at the rafting, to have not "flied" into it). Therefore together with the accompanying me boy in a cruising taxi (it costs 40 cents, that is 0.4 byr) I have at once gone to the bus station "Bahr Dar". When we approached to the station, from it any bus has set off. My guide, having learned, that it is the bus to Tis-Abbay, has "braked" it, I got on it and went to Tis-Abbay. When I have arrived to this settlement, I was surrounded by the next company of "guides". With one of them I made arrangements, that for 10 byrs he will accompany me to the Tississat Waterfall, and yet 20 byrs will be used for a boatman in the papyrus boat for a ferry over the river (as my new guide assured me, it is faster to reach the waterfall on the left bank). Besides it was taken from me 15 byrs for visiting the state sight - the Tississat Waterfall (it is quite officially, with giving out the ticket).
The Tississat Waterfall, as well as it was expected, has appeared magnificent. By stones in the middle of the river it is divided into two flows. And indeed, near it there curls the water "dust" ("Tississat" in the translation from the local Amhara language means "Water that smokes"). To the point, in the region of my rafting on the Blue Nile on its banks the people of Amhara nationality live.
Behind the waterfall there is the hydro-electric power station "Tississat". And still farther - the first Portuguese bridge (one of two on the Abbay, constructed by Portugueses in the eighteenth century). We have gone to it (truth is, already on the right bank, on the left one it is far to go). And then I have passed a few kilometres along the Blue Nile downstream and have examined the river.
Having returned to Tis-Abbay, I got on the bus to Bahr Dar and have arrived to this town at 17 o'clock about. Strange though it may seem, near the hotel "Blue Nile Spring" there was no restaurant, therefore it was necessary to go to search for it. The evening was devoted to the complete assembly of the catamaran (including to the pumping up of gondolas). I have "constructed" the catamaran in the hotel room and have gone to bed, wishing for the following day to begin the rafting on the Blue Nile.
And this really has taken place. In the morning of the next day (with the help of two "guides") I have carried the catamaran to the river and have rafted the first hundred meters on the Abbay (the guides have photographed me both for the negative film, and for the slide one). Then I have taken the large "Zenit-E" to the hotel, and with self for the rafting have taken the "slide" camera only (the small American "Kodak").
So, the rafting on the Blue Nile began. The truth is, the first impressions from it were depressing. The river has practically stopped, and the strong counter wind almost brought all my efforts to nothing. Still it was possible to me eventually (after five kilometres about) to reach the rapid Blue Nile. At first the rapids were simple. But then I have passed the rather severe rapid, in which (at the time of the expedition 1968) Chris Bonington has turned over. Now the river had such character: the powerful, of fall type, rapids (or the real waterfalls) alternated with real "bog", that is the places, where the river current is not present almost, and the exit on the bank is closed by the dense-bushes of papirus. In such places I was the magnificent game for crocodiles - you see, I had not any opportunity to climb out quickly on the bank in case of attack me by one of these reptiles. And the local inhabitants have confirmed earlier, that at these places the crocodiles are, and time from time they kill the people. So on such "marsh" sites I went, constantly looking from side to side (so as to be ready to defend from crocodiles with my metal paddle). But in one from "bogs" a surprise waited me. Suddenly in twenty meters about from me the splash of water rang out, the hissing of somebody was heard, and from water there leant out the head of... hippopotamus. It is a surprise! I was morally ready for meeting with crocodiles, but nobody (neither Kris Bonington, nor Mike Jones) met on this site of the Abbay hippopotamuses. I knew, that the hippopotamuses drive the local peasants on Tana Lake, turn over their boats and kill the people (to the point, as I read in one of books, on the Tana Lake there are no crocodiles). But to meet the hippopotamus on the Blue Nile - after the series of waterfalls and waterdrops - it was complete unexpectedness for me. And again I have appeared in the loss situation - the way to the bank was blocked by dense bushes of papirus, so if the hippopotamus will want to attack me, I can not get somewhere from him. Fortunately, the hippopotamus has not noticed me and again has left under water. And in the several kilometres I have met crocodiles, moreover quite unexpectedly on a small stone island in one of rapids (in fast flow), but not at all in "bog". I have rafted at a distance of three meters from them. One of them warmed on a small island, and another at this moment opened maw widely. Around of crocodiles there was full of birds-"secretaries" (one of which "cleaned" the teeth of the second crocodile, pecking any rot out). Fortunately, I have rafted past them with large speed, and the crocodiles did not labour to chase me. But if have I rafted at a distance of three meters from them in the "bog"? I think, it could terminate for me in the sad way.
As I already have noted, the Blue Nile flows steppedly, alternating the waterfalls-waterdrops and the completely quiet sites. The five-meter waterfall has been met on the way also, which (as well as the Tississat Waterfall) was divided by the stone island into two flows. I have understood, that it is the five-meter waterfall, coming up to it closely only. And I have passed it, partly on foot, just on the stones and near them in centre of the waterfall (such original combination of the carrying and the rafting has met in my practice for the first time). Then I have passed in the catamaran (without the previous investigation) two three-meter waterfalls (at the approach to them they seem less high). On the river there was the unending large number of the waterfall-waterdrop steps. At first I thought to remember their amount, but then have thrown this ungrateful employment and went and jumped from these steps only (examining some ones from bank stones). To the point, views of these waterfalls-waterdrops were sheer magnificent. I did not spare the slide film.
All obstacles for this day were passed successfully. By 14 o'clock (8 o'clock of the local time) I have overcome on the river almost the half of distance from Tana Lake up to Tis-Abbay.
I rafted "light" (with extremely necessary things only the camera and meal) and was going to stay the night in Bahr Dar (where have left all other things) at normal (not insanitary) living conditions. To the point, when on the previous day I went in the bus to Tis-Abbay, one of local men was interested, whether have I been inoculated against malaria, which is widespread in this region; however, as ill luck would have it, at one time - before the visiting Tanzania - at Moscow polyclinic No.13 I have been inoculated against yellow fever, but then there was not possibility to be inoculated against malaria. Here, in the region of the Abbay, from yellow fever anybody did not especially suffer, however my chances to fall ill by malaria have sharply grown, but I would not like because of it to refuse the rafting.
However I have decided as far as possible to stay the night at normal sanitary conditions, and those ones were in Bahr Dar only. Therefore, since 14 o'clock, I became to spot on the bank any village so that for the night to leave at it the catamaran. Once it seemed to me, that on the bank (not far from the river) there is the small house. I have left to look, whether is it so actually. Unfortunately, the real small house was not. But I have noticed the Ethiopian huts-tents-of-branches (axis-symmetrical, with the circle base - of Papuan in New Guinea type) in the other place. While I was convinced, that it is so, five minutes about have passed. And for this time it happened that, what did I fear earlier - there was stolen my bag with things and, what really matters, with the camera with the practically completely shot slide film. The local boys, then surrounding me (the same as it was in Tanzania), pretended, that do not know, who has pilfered my things. It was terribly regrettable. You see, I have photographed on the slide film "Kodak-Elite" such smart pictures with waterfalls!
With the help of boys I have carried the catamaran to the village, has left it near one of huts (by the consent of its owner), have reached the road Tis-Abbay - Bahr Dar and in the passing car have reached Bahr Dar.
For the next day I have arrived to this village Andasa together with the interpreter (naturally, not free-of-charge). The owner of the hut, near which I left the catamaran, promised me in detail to learn from other inhabitants of the village, whether did anybody see the thief.
And I have continued the rafting. The river still represented itself the set of steps and quiet sites, moreover the four-or-five-meter waterfalls were these steps frequently. There was an interesting detail: here the river was broken into the numerous channels among the stone banks. And in one of channels there could be the waterfall of five-meter height, and in the other - the series of 1-1,5 meter water-throw-downs. Again it was necessary a few times to jump from the three-meter waterfalls. But between such steps the river practically stopped. Such character of the river is not pleasant for me. Therefore, when the Abbay, at last, ran with constantly large speed, I was inexpressibly delighted. The river, truth is, sometimes raced through a fence of trees and bushes, so the real slalom between them turned out. In several places the slope of the river was especially large. On such sites of the river there were the powerful "holes", and on one of them - even a roller of height of up to 2.5 m (that on the Blue Nile was not early). It continued so for a few kilometres, and my average rate of moving on the river has grown sharply. But then everything has become, as earlier - the steps and "bogs".
In one from "bogs" I have met two small (of 1.5 meters length) crocodiles (they have jumped in water, having seen me), and in the next - all at once three ones. Moreover I "have predicted" one from them from a distance, having seen on an island a lot of birds-secretaries. And it is exact. A large crocodile, basked in the sun near them, got into the water lazily. On the bank of one of islands I have seen the small (of meter long) crocodile, which, also seeing me, has jumped in water, but from curiosity has not become to be deep in it, stared at me and continued to look even then, when between us the distance has decreased down to two meters. I had a great mind to thrust by the paddle into his maw - to simulate the situation, when a crocodile attacks you, and it is necessary to resist him by a paddle. But I had no time to make it, as at a distance of five meters from small crocodile there has got out from bushes on this bank the strapping 3-3.5 meter crocodile, which has jumped in water directly there, where in a few seconds I should raft. I have sharply turned the catamaran round and have bypassed this place. Fortunately, hippopotamuses on the second day were not met. And as to crocodiles, I have a little bit calmed down, being convinced, that not each crocodile attacks the first counter person, when that is floating in any boat. However, at these ideas the danger to be eaten by a crocodile did not decrease. At the village, at which I have appeared in the evening, I was told, that this year here the crocodile has eaten somebody from men.
This last quiet site of the river lasted rather long till the river has turned to the right. Here were the powerful water-throw-downs. However before them I have got hungry and have decided to eat the oranges, which I carried with self, and for convenience of realization of this operation have moored to the bank. And at once to me there have come running up, with joyful shouts, to get to know three absolutely naked local beauties-girls of 8-10 years old, but with ear-rings in the ears. Also the truth is, that they (at least, at first) bashfully covered their some interesting places with hands. We have exchanged any words, not understanding each other, and I have begun to raft further. The girls during some time ran for me on the bank with shouts. To the point, in Ethiopia there are met very beautiful (on the European standard) girls, only their colour of a skin is more dark, than at us.
After my meeting with the local girls the river has burst in a number of separate rapids, then - in the five-meter waterfall, further - in one more powerful water-throw-down and after the quiet site has approached to the Tississat Waterfall.
Before it on the right bank settlement Tis-Abbay is located, which I already have time to visit earlier. There were too many curious persons, interested in me, therefore I have decided to moor to the bank before Tis-Abbay at one of local small villages and to finish the today's rafting here. However, when I, having disassembled partially the catamaran, have draged it out on the way Tis-Abbay - Bahr Dar, it began to darken, and already there was no neither any bus, nor any car to Bahr Dar. I had to spend the night in one of huts of the above mentioned village. To the point, these huts are constructed more high qualitatively, than they seems from apart - inside they are strengthened by the ring "frames". As it was offered me to sleep on any old skins (other bedding in the house, naturally, was not), at night any insects crept on me and bit me.
In the morning of the next day I have come back to Bahr Dar with the half-assembled catamaran (more correct, with the assembled frame, on which the completely let-out gondolas were wound - I could not disassemble the frame, as the spanner, with the help of which it disassembled, was stolen on the eve with the camera). And then it was necessary to visit the village, where I was robbed, and to learn, whether did anybody bit my bait of 50 byrs, which I promised to give for my camera to that, who will have returned it to me. Alas, the answer was negative. The thief was not announced. After this it was necessary urgently to go "home" to Bahr Dar to the hotel "Blue Nile Spring", as at 14.45 my aircraft to Addis Ababa departed. Tomorrow it was necessary to meet Vladimir. I have left practically all things in Bahr Dar - the catamaran at the hotel "Blue Nile" near the bus station, and the rucksack with things - at the hotel "Blue Nile Spring".
Unfortunately, the flight to Addis Ababa was delayed for about 2.5 hours, and we arrived to the capital of Ethiopia, when already it has darken (in Ethiopia in December over the period from 17.30 till 18 o'clock a day is replaced by a night). Therefore I had to go in a taxi for 35 byrs (though the load at me was not) to the rather cheap (60 byrs for a room with hot shower) hotel "Bahr Dar" (near the Imperial Palace and the hotel "Hilton"). Here I have stayed for the night.
During the flight from Bahr Dar to Addis Ababa next to me there sat the veterinary doctor from Bahr Dar, which has informed me, that the basic reason of death of the people in the region of my rafting is malaria, and because of it the population of Bahr Dar was much reduced lately. However now there was the dry season, and the basic carriers of infection - mosquitos were rather a little.
On December 6 at 7.30 I have gone to the international airport Addis Ababa "Bole" to meet Vladimir Kouznetsov. And though he arrived to the capital of Ethiopia at 10.30 only, I wanted to try to have broken through the double covering force of policemen inside of the air terminal (into the custom hall) to help Vladimir at his passage through the frontier-guards and customers, as he did not speak English. Or it was necessary to "catch" anybody from the Russian Embassy (their, of yellow - "diplomatic" - colour, car number-plates begin by number 10, themselves diplomats pass freely inside of the building of the airport) and to ask him to meet Kuznetsov and to help to the latter to "pass" through the frontier-guards and custom officers. To make the first it was not possible, but the second has turned out. I have again met Vladimir from the Russian Embassy, which has helped me to put up at hotel on the first day of my stay in Ethiopia. And he has rendered the required help to my partner. Thus, the size of our expedition has increased twice.
It was yet necessary to reserve and to purchase the tickets for tomorrow for the plane to Bahr Dar and back for December 14. Unfortunately, the tickets for the tomorrow's flight were not already, and there were only tickets for after-tomorrow. Thus we had to lose one day in vain.
As the thief has pilfered my bag, in which, in particular, there was the spanner for assembly and disassembly of the catamaran, we have purchased new spanner.
In a day we have flied to Bahr Dar. I have addressed to police with the request to find my stolen things. In the evening we have got to know Natalia - the young woman from Kiev (Ukraine), married to Ethiopian (they both graduated from the Polytechnical institute in Kiev) and having already two children (Timur and Tonya). The husband works by the vice-rector at the Polytechnical institute in Bahr Dar, and Natalia earned a little extra privately by seamstress. She took the active participation in the solving of some our problems and terribly worried, whether shall we return alive and healthy. As she was informed by her Ethiopian friends, lower Tississat Waterfall, except crocodiles, the boa-constrictors also present the real threat for life of people.
For the next day in a bus we have arrived to Tis-Abbay, on foot have reached the first Portuguese bridge and behind it have begun the rafting on the Abbay. The first time the river flew in the narrow canyon. Before the severe rapid we have moored to the left bank for spending the night. At 18.30 already it has become absolutely darkly, and we lay down to sleep at 19 o'clock (though succeeded in falling asleep at 22 o'clock about only).
In the morning of the next day we have rafted through a number of rather severe rapids, and then the obstacles on the river were simplified. The truth is, in some time on our way there has been met the three-meter waterfall, but after it the river flew again quietly.
At the end of this day the rather severe rapid has been met again, after it there followed the water-throw-down of a fall type, and then the river has squeezed into the narrow canyon with the very severe rapids. It began so the six-mile (on an estimation of Chris Bonington) gorge, lasting up to the second Portuguese bridge. We have spent the night at the beginning of this gorge.
It is necessary to say, that if during almost 1.5 days of the joint (together with Vladimir) travelling we did not see any crocodile, for the last two hours of the rafting we have met four crocodiles all at once. Thus, the general number of the met by me on the Blue Nile crocodiles has increased up to eleven. Besides, on the bank we saw very many monkeys.
For the following day we have rafted in the catamaran a part of the canyon and have carried the catamaran over another part. In the middle of the gorge (after the canyon) the river was simplified. We have spent the night at the river near the trail, which left to the mountain pass in the direction of settlement Mota, where we wanted to arrive on foot, in order then therefrom to come back in a bus or passing machine to Bahr Dar.
The next day was for us pedestrian purely. The truth is, we had time besides to visit the old Ethiopian, which has invited us to self on a visit. Then we have risen on the pass, where have spent the night. And at night the thunderstorm was raging (as Natalia will then tell us, the first for the last three month). During a half-night the rain poured.
As the local inhabitants have assured, it was closer for us to go not up to Mota, but up to settlement Gonch. Therefore next morning we followed there. In the afternoon in the landrover we have left Gonch for large settlement Adid, and therefrom in the trip bus have arrived to Bahr Dar.
In the morning of the next day I went to police, and, to my large pleasure, it has appeared, that the policemen have found my bag with the camera and other things, stolen in the region of settlement Andasa. My things were returned me. And in the afternoon (at 14 o'clock) we have taken off to Addis Ababa. In the evening we have purchased the souvenirs. And in the morning of the next day the Aeroflot's aircraft Tu-154 carried us (truth is, with the landing in Jibuti and Cairo) to the north. We have arrived to Moscow at 23 o'clock.
Thus, it was passed the most severe one-hundred-kilometre site of the Blue Nile (Abbay) from Tana Lake. And thereby I have finished my mini-series of raftings on the mountain sources of two greatest rivers of the world - the Amazon and Nile.
THE THIRD KARAKORAM EXPEDITION (RAFTING DOWN CHOGORI IN CHINA)
Yet in October 1992 Yura Skorodumov and I have undertaken attempt to have rafted in China down the second world's peak Mt.Chogori (K-2, 8,611m) on the Chogir, Shaksgam (Kyrchinbulak) and Yarkand Rivers. However as the Chogir and Shaksgam are in the frontier zone (near Pakistan), it was not allowed to us to raft on these rivers, and we rafted on the Yarkand only. But I did not leave intention to get still on the Chogir and Shaksgam and to make their first descent. Two years of correspondence with manager of Xinjiang-Uygur Branch of China Mountaineering Association and 4,600 dollars, which we have paid to him (but in 1992 we had 800 dollars only), have eventually made the business - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomic Region and Chinese frontier leaders gave permission for our rafting. Besides it was found out, that one of sites of our route of length of 30 km on the Shaksgam River is the frontier between China and Pakistan in general.
On May 24, 1996 together with the shop-tourists of Novosibirsk-tourist club we (I and Boris Ivanov from Omsk) have taken off to Urumchi.
We have arrived to the capital of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomic Region in the midnight. We were met by mister Du Xiao Fan, with which I during two years conducted the rather exhausting correspondence. We slept the night at hotel. In the morning by the flight of local airline have flown to Kashgar.
There we were met by our guide Akbar. We have bought the missing part of products and through town Yarkand in a jeep have reached Yecheng (Kargalyk). During a few hours we went along the edge of Takla-Makan Desert and observed for the ascending above the surface of the desert vortex. Have examined Kargalyk - the small nice township. Next morning we set out further. Have covered through settlement Kokyar, Akaz Pass (of height of 3,000 m), settlement Kudi and, at last, very high Seraz Pass (4,947 m) and at two o'clock in the afternoon have reached Mazar (Mazar Dara). During almost all time (except for last 25 km) we went on the strategic way to Tibet. Towards us there went the military columns from Tibet, and other similar columns of machines carried there petrol and different equipment. The Seraz Pass, of height of almost 5,000 meters, is rather good "looked" - it is the matter of hands of soldiers of Chinese building battalions. When the road was lowered to the upper waters of the Yarkand River and has turned to the left, we have turned to the right and went along the river up to Mazar. Farther to drive in the jeep it was impossible.
In Mazar Akbar said good-bye to us and has left back, previously transferring us to the certain comrade Islam.
Next morning we were given two camels and conductor Solak for the help, and we have set out. However, we went (along the Yarkand) only during four hours up to the place Ilik, where the Surkwat River falls into the Yarkand. We have put tent on the bank of the Surkwat River among the bushes of tamarisk. For the following day we have set out upwards along this river. The truth is, again went only for four hours (the conductor wanted so).
But the third operational day was rather heavy and, the great thing, cold. We have spent the night at height of 4,500 meters about in a small house from stones and clay.
For the fourth day of the way we have overcome Aghil Pass (4,780 m), from which 8-km-mountain Gasherbrum-1 is seen, and have come down to the Shaksgam. The level of water in the river was very low. We went on foot during two hours yet.
Next day we have reached the Chogir River, have admired the second peak of the world Mt.K-2 (Chogori). Then we have rafted on the Chogir and a little on the Shaksgam. The water-flows in them (before the falling of the Chogir into the Shaksgam) were equal about. During the rafting there were met the shoals only.
On the sixth day at first (for twenty kilometres about) the shoals only turned out to be on our way, and then there were the rapids of jet type. At first - weak, but then more and more powerful (up to of the fourth severity grade inclusive).
On June 2 we have met the powerful rapids of the fifth severity grade. One of them was very long (of kilometre about extent). We have rafted along the frontier Pakistan-China about 30 km.
At the end of this site of border, before the large left tributary and turn of the Shaksgam to the right (eastward), there was the rapid of the maximum (sixth) severity grade. In it the large stones with very narrow passes between them. The rapid was very dangerous, especially for us, as because of limited time for the rafting we passed through all rapids on the route without the previous investigation. Twice we were on the brink of turning over. For the day have passed about 45 km and in 5 km after Pakistan have spent the night on the sandy beach on the right bank.
On June 3 have passed for five hours the last part of the Shaksgam. There were at first the severe and dangerous rapids, but then (before Uprang) the river was simplified. Before its falling into the Yarkand the Shaksgam passes through the rocky gate. Above it the rope is thrown over. The water-flow of the Shaksgam was more, than in the Yarkand River (before the falling of the Shaksgam into it). During our rafting the colour of water in the river, on which we were floating, varied: in the Chogir the water was light-blue, in the Shaksgam - light-green, and in the Yarkand - brown. It is interesting, that during our rafting on the Shaksgam we have not met on the banks any person. Therefore we did not have problems neither with Pakistani, nor with Chinese frontier-guards. And we have seen the first person (with camels) on the bank of the Yarkand only. After hour of the rafting on this river the dust storm caught us - from the sky down to ground the flow of dust rushed along. But in two hours the storm has passed.
During eight hours of the rafting on the ninth day of the way we have reached the canyon after Sykbulak (this settlement was not visible from water surface). At first the river flew in the wide valley, there were many channels, then the rapids appeared, which were hereinafter complicated up to 4-5 grade, and the river has come in the deep canyon with the numerous turns and numerous rapids of 4-5 grade.
At the time of the dinner on the right river bank (yet before Sykbulak) there has approached to us... a little camel, gaunt (the both weak-willed humps hung down), hungry, obviously strayed from the mother or owner. We gave him a roll of bread. He has eaten it. As we did not see any settlements around, could not help him by anything. When we have sailed, the little camel have begun to swim for us on the channel, then has run on the bank, but nevertheless has lagged behind us. It was very sorry for him, however in this place many green bushes grew, so it was the hope, that the little camel will stay until he will be found out by the people (the trails on banks are here).
June 5. In the canyon after Sykbulak of length of 15-20 km (at its beginning we stayed the night) there were met many rapids of the fifth severity grade, one - of sixth. There were the very powerful water-throw-downs, heaving on large stones, "holes", narrow passes between large stones. Then - some calm (the river was pulled out from the canyon through twelve-meter rocky gate), wide gorge. Then - again a canyon, but in it the weak obstacles only are. And, at last, when the Yarkand has run more-less straight (not looping strongly) northward, the powerful rapids have appeared, two from them - of the sixth severity grade. Then the rapids were simplified.
For the following day there has been met a number of not very severe rapids, though sometimes the rather powerful came across. At last we have seen from water the first village Buhujilapu (more correct, two houses - the other are not seen from water). The meeting with local "aksakal" (old man) (also there presented the women and children) was short - as far as allowed my dictionary reserve of the Uygur language: "Salam aleykum" (there were the hand shakes). "Avu erde Buhujilapu?" ("Is it settlement Buhujilapu?"). The answer was affirmative: "Buhujilapu". Then "Hosh" ("Good-bye").
In ten kilometres about after Buhujilapu the river has turned eastward and has come into a gorge. The severe obstacles in it were not, and the speed of the river has fallen.
The twelfth day of the way. The obstacles as a whole became not so severe, but time from time there were the powerful rapids of 5 grade. Such one was, for example, before the brook (from the right) one hour before the ending of 25-kilometre gorge, directed south-east-east-ward. There was met the rope ferry (up to this place on the left bank there was the trail, visible from water). Then (after the right stream) the twenty-kilometre gorge, directed north-east-ward, goes (also up to the river-tributary from the right). In it there are many rapids, including of the fifth severity grade with the powerful water-throw-downs and rollers of height of 2-2.5 meters. In the place of the falling of the right tributary - the pleasant site for spending the night. But the absolutely idyllic place is in 5 km below with the stream on the left bank, where into the Yarkand the large creek falls. Higher on this creek, by all, there is the settlement. And in the last gorge before the mouth of the left tributary Tashkurgan the quiet spots alternate with the powerful rapids.
For the thirteenth day the river is steady (without stops) flowed southward with the average speed about 7 km/hour. There were met the separate powerful rapids of 5 grade. But the open stones in the river already were a little. The basic obstacles - the rollers of 2-2.5 m height. Up to the Tashkurgan River we rafted for 7 hours. There appeared the people - in the morning they made a trail on the rocky left bank. We have rafted past the large settlement on the right bank. Three hours before the mouth of the Tashkurgan River the trail on the left bank has turned in the narrow (one-row) motor-road, on it the automobiles became to go. In hour about after the mouth of the Tashkurgan on the Yarkand there were two the most powerful rapids of 5 sg with the water-throw-downs and rollers of height up to 2.5 m. The first one is especially dangerous - in it, apart from everything else, the splinters of large cliffs in the channel and strong water heaving onto them. At the night there was the thunder-storm: the rain, strongest wind, contiguous lightnings and thunder. In general, the strong wind is the local peculiarity.
The fourteenth day of the way. There were met the powerful rapids (of up to 5 sg) with high (of up to 2.5 m) chaotic roller. After Izak the obstacles became more simple, but the river ran still in gorge. And only after a few hours, passing by huge boulders (original gate), the river has run out on the plain. There appeared the numerous channels. The mountains have receded.
June 10. After three hours of the rafting we have appeared in Kochum. A hour and a half before it on the river there are the ferry for motor vehicles. The river raced with speed of 10-12 km/hour. All islands were under water. The water-flow was huge (a few hundreds cubic meters per a second). In several places the width of the flow reached 200-250 m. Water in the river was 5-10 times as much as in October 1992, and the speed is higher twice. We have stopped before the dam in Kochum. Directly before the power station the river is artificially divided into three channels. And after the hydrostation the Yarkand water is distributed on channels, and the large its part is used for irrigation (the same as, for example, it occurs with the Soh River in Middle Asia). The left part of water is gradually lost in desert Takla-Makan.
After our arrival to Kochum there began the pilgrimage of the local inhabitants to our camp. "Everyone has visited here". In basic - with kind intentions, though it has not done without petty stealing. However, one thick activist had reported on us to the local police. And the police has arrived almost in a body (five officers). But our documents were in order, and the police has quickly left. And we became to wait the jeep, which the Alpinist Association should send next day.
June 11. During all day waited the jeep, and towards evening it has still arrived. But it happened only after that as I went to the post-office and have rung up to Kashgar (have informed, that we have arrived). To the point, in China it is possible to call, only showing the passport (and your surname is written down). We have arrived to Kashgar next day at 4.30 a.m. When we went along the edge of Takla-Makan Desert, have seen the turning over machine. Its passengers have just now been taken to hospital.
On June 12 we roved through Kashgar, bought the souvenirs. The town is quite a good, bright.
June 13. The excursion on the historical places of Kashgar has taken a half-day. We have visited at first the Islamist complex Apa Huja with grave (it is more than 350 years old), and then - the similar complex (mosque, minaret, etc.) Haitgar, which is more than 550 years old. Both in the first, and in the second places - the working mosques, and in Haitgar, besides, at the medrese the students (as our seminary-students) are educated. They constantly live in Haitgar (we looked in at their "cells": double plank beds, closely) and devote the basic time to study the Koran (it was so at us).
In the evening we have flied to Urumchi, have spent the night at hotel, and in the morning on June 14, by flight of Chinese aircompany, have arrived to Novosibirsk.
Thus our expedition was finished. It was rather successful. For the first time the 360-kilometre, of the highest severity grade, water route down from the second world's peak Chogori (K-2) on the Chogir, Shaksgam and Yarkand Rivers with difference of height of almost three kilometres was passed. The rafting began at height of about 4,000 m. It has been overcome more than two hundred rapids of different severity grade, moreover in an absolutely autonomous mode (we have met the people practically at the end of the rafting only).
But in my head there are the new plans already: rafting down Mt.Everest in Tibet. I begin to prepare for the new expedition.
RAFTING DOWN EVEREST IN TIBET
August 23, 1996. Today at night we shall fly to Kathmandu so as then, getting to Tibet, to have rafted down the highest world's peak Mt.Everest on the Rong Chu and Phung Chu Rivers. The rafting is planned to begin in region of the base camp of climbers at height about 5,150 m. Probably, it will be possible for me also to cross in a small catamaran one of high-mountain lakes on Eastern Rongbuk Glacier at height 5,600 m about.
A small digression. This expedition should become historical and concerning principle. The fact is, that from Everest two rivers flow down only. The first - the Lobuche Khola (hereinafter falls into the Imja Khola, and that, in turn, into the Dudh Kosi, and so on) - in Nepal, another - the Rong Chu (falls into the Phung Chu) - in Tibet. In Nepal down Everest from Khumbu Glacier I have rafted in 1991. And though this descent was the first single rafting from the highest top of the world, but on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola and Dudh Kosi already before me a few expeditions have passed. But the second water route down from Everest, on the Rong Chu and Phung Chu, remained not passed by anybody. Yet in 1991 I have made a few attempts to receive the permission for the rafting on this way. But then the Tibetian authorities have not given me such permission. And only after that as in 1994 Vladimir Shataev has transferred to me the address of the Minister of Sport of Tibet Mr.Losang Dawa and I personally to him have sent the request to permit me and my team to raft down Everest in Tibet (by listing all my rafting merits), from the Tibetian Minister of Sport the positive answer has come. However he has written me, that I should work with the Tibetian firm TIST (Tibet International Sports Travel). But for realization of our rafting TIST has required from each of us to pay 4,000-7,000 dollars (the concrete sum depend on size of group). And it has been required two years for me to find such money.
Among other things, after the first-passing of the Rong Chu and Phung Chu I could become the first person, had rafted down Everest up to plain on both water routes. The fact is, that if the first complete (down to height of 100 m above a sea level) route (on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi and Sapt Kosi) was passed by me in the spring 1991, the second part (the Arun and Sapt Kosi in Nepal) of the second complete (down to height of 100 m) of the water route down Everest (on the Rong Chu, Phung Chu, Arun and Sapt Kosi) was passed by me in 1990. And there remained impassed by me the Rong Chu and Phung Chu in Tibet only, on which we are going now.
But let us return to August 23, 1996.
We were to be four together - I, Boris Ivanov from Omsk and two Andrey (Ponomarev and Guirnikov) from Novosibirsk.
Nine a.m. I stay at the flat of my father in Zelenograd (41 km from Moscow). The telephone bell rings. From Novosibirsk the sister of Guirnikov calls up and informs, that yesterday Andrey has got to automobile accident. Now he is in hospital at the strong concussion of the brain. Naturally, he cannot go to Tibet.
This information has at once spoiled my plans. First, Guirnikov was to take with self a videocamera (to go to raft in Tibet down Everest without videocamera - it is probably a crime). However we so hardly have collected 18,000 dollars, necessary for three-person trip (it was required to give to Chinese firm TIST 5,000 for each and one thousand per each for airtickets Moscow - Kathmandu - Moscow). So we had not the superfluous money. But as after the rafting in Tibet (it was necessary for us to come back from it to Russia through Kathmandu all the same) I planned the small expedition in Nepal, for it I have saved 700 dollars. I had to allocate 600 dollars from this sum for the purchasing of the videocamera "Samsung" and to leave self on "hunger rations" in Nepal.
I rather quickly (with information help of a familiar of my father) have purchased videocamera in Moscow. But for searches the reserve battery I had to run through the capital of Russia during the half of day and had found necessary one at trading centre VDNKh only. Thus, we have still gone to Tibet with videocamera.
The financial problem has become the second one, owing to the absence of Guirnikov. And though the necessary sum of money for the Chinese firm was available at us, but there was left the very little money for staying in Kathmandu and the trip up to Nepalese-Chinese (Tibetian) frontier in Kodari. Here Andrey Ponomarev has helped our group.
There was the third negative moment also. After the rafting in Tibet Boris Ivanov and Andrey Ponomarev should depart back to Moscow, but I with Andrey Guirnikov was going to pass in Nepal in the raft "carabuber" through all waterfalls on the Dudh-Kosi in the canyon in Lukla region. But, alas. Since Guirnikov will not be, there will not be the passage of these waterfalls (it is impossible to go alone here in two-seater "carabuber").
We have arrived to Kathmandu at 15 o'clock of the local time. We have gone to the well-familiar for me hotel "Star" and were placed there in two rooms. I have connected over the phone with mister Jigmela, the representative of the firm TIST, with which I during two years conducted correspondence for the rafting down Everest. He was at this time in Kathmandu. In the evening mister Jigmela has arrived to us to the hotel and has taken away our passports for receiving the Chinese visas (which he will "make" to us on Monday). He has taken from us for it 150 dollars. He has told, that on Monday in the evening will return the passports. We have informed him, that we shall leave to Kodari (to the border between Nepal and China) in the morning on Tuesday, on August 27. He has answered, that will inform about this the leaders of TIST in Lhasa, and they will have send their guide to the frontier in Kodari.
On Saturday I visited my friend Ram, at which home stayed in 1990 and 1991. He for the last five years (which I was not in Nepal) had the serious change in the family life only - there was born the son. All three his brothers (Siam, Rishi and Krishna) married, and at all (except Krishna) the children have appeared already.
On Monday in the evening Jigmela has arrived to us and has given back our passports and the paper with the group visa. The truth is, for something (like as for insurance) has required yet 90 dollars. We had to give them to him. He has told, that at the frontier of Nepal and China the guide will wait us.
At once after the leaving of Jigmela I have gone out to the street and made arrangements with one of the taxi drivers, that for 3,000 Rupees (it is about 50 dollars; at the moment of our arrival to Nepal the official rate of dollar relatively Nepalese Rupee was 55, and at the "black" market reached up to 59.5) tomorrow he will take us to Kodari. During all night (as, however, all evening also) it was raining.
At six a.m. next day the taxi driver has arrived, we have got into the van and went to the border with China. Up to the Sun Kosi River the road was quite good, but then (when it went along the Sun Kosi, and then - along the Bhote Kosi) has sharply got spoiled. In several places the landslips (taking place because of the recent downpour) bared the way. Only due to work of the people, clearing the way all along the road, our machine skidded only in one place.
Up to Kodari it was left about 20 km. The road has gone upwards. It seemed, that all problems, connected with its bad condition, have remained behind. But... The jam of cars ahead warned about something unpleasant. And it is valid, the road here was destroyed, was washed off by a water flow. We had to part with the taxi-van and to transfer things across the formed "impassage", on the opposite party of which there were the bus and two trucks, the drivers of which waited clients.
But we went in the bus not for long (about 6 km), as the next "impassage" bared the way. We have done the similar (to the passing of the first rock-choke) procedure here also. But in a few kilometres the history has repeated again. Naturally, in view of the weak market-competition the drivers of buses and lorries, transporting us on these three last sites of the road up to the Chinese border, required high price for the services. And it has turned out so, that for passage the last (up to border) 16 km we were compelled to pay 2,200 Rupees (while for overcoming of the first hundred kilometres - 3,000).
But the troubles were not finished with it. On the border (that is on the bridge over the Bhote Kosi) anybody did not wait us. Therefore we were compelled in a lorry to go to Zangmu (Khasa), where the basic frontier post and custom-house were placed.
On this site the road rises upwards by serpentine. We overcame 7 km to Khasa during about three hours (from them two hours were lost in the place, where the machines, going towards us, skidded).
But in Khasa also anybody did not meet us. We have passed the passport check and customs, then I have gone to the being beside hotel and have rented two rooms.
When then I have come back to my companions, guarding our things, it has appeared, that there has shown up the our future guide (as it was subsequently found out, his name is Kalden). He said, that could not meet us on the border, as his jeep stays above at a distance of five kilometres on the way in the Lhasa direction, as the road in that place is destroyed also. As he said, tomorrow we shall pass these 5 km on foot (not without the help of porters) and then shall go in the jeep. The truth is, for the guide it is necessary yet to receive at police for us the official permit for the visiting Everest region (the preliminary permission from the police leaders in Lhasa already was available, but without our passports and the visa it was impossible to receive the official permit). For this purpose it is necessary, that the local policemen should contact with their leaders in Lhasa, and the policemen in Lhasa should confirm the opportunity to give out to us such permit.
If the local and Lhasa's policemen will have communicated between themselves today, tomorrow in the morning we shall set out to our jeep, and then we shall go in this jeep to Nialam (twenty kilometres about will be left up to it).
But, certainly, on August 27 the telephone communication between Khasa and Lhasa was very bad, and our "business" did not begin to move.
In the morning on August 28 our guide has again gone to police. But now also it was not possible to contact with Lhasa. The half of day we were in fighting trim, but then have understood, that today we don't go anywhere both on foot, and in a car. The guide has told, that tomorrow (on Thursday) we shall have all chances to receive the permit. But, alas, the all present day was lost.
On August 29 we have still received the permit for the rafting down Everest and have reached Nialam (3,750 m) (in Khasa the height was 2,300 m). But here also it did not turn out without misadventures. At first we have carried out the small (of the length of ten kilometres about) trekking up to the place, where the road was destroyed. At the time of this on-foot travelling it began to rain, and when we have approached to the automobile "impassage", from the small gorge over the road the flow of dirty water rushed and the stones flied. The crossing of this stream has become a rather risky measure (at any moment any flying rock could bring down you), but we were late for day from the planned schedule, therefore have decided to cross this creek at once. We have crossed it successfully, without traumas. The group of the western tourists has turned back. In a few minutes, when the flow of water in this creek (because of the incessant and amplifying rain) has increased, over the way from the gorge the huge boulders of the size of one-floor house began to fly. It was rather interesting to observe, as the large boulders jump in the gorge as balls and rush over that place, where just now we crossed the creek. However to imagine the meeting with such boulder it was unpleasant.
Just behind this "impassage" the jeep waited us, and we have overcome the left part of the way to Nialam without problems. In Nialam our expedition has been replenished by a truck.
For the next day we have risen on Lalung La Pass (5,050 m) (it was covered by snow) and have reached settlement New Tingri (4,350 m). Before the settlement - the police check-post. Here we were ransacked carefully. The literature, carried by Andrey, interested the Chinese policemen especially. There was checked, whether is contained in it any anti-Chinese propagation (for example, appeals to independence of Tibet).
The hotel in New Tingri is surprising. There are the modern building, quite good rooms, but in them there are not neither hot, nor cold water.
On August 31, again passing the customs check and overcoming then Pang La Pass (5,200 m), from which at once the view on five 8-km-mountains - Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma opens (however, before us this view has not opened, as it was cloudy), we were lowered to settlement Paru (at height of 4,100 m), being already on the bank of the Rong Chu, on which we should raft. Then (the way laid along the Rong Chu) we have ascended up to monastery Rongbuk (5,030 m) and further - up to Everest Base Camp (5,150 m). Here already the tents of several trekking groups were pitched. And today the team of Czech climbers has here arrived, which in a month about will climb Everest on the usual way (through Eastern Rongbuk Glacier). The greater part of the Czechs spoke better in Russian, than in English, therefore we communicated with them in Russian in basic. The Czechs had the telephone sputnik communication (the equipment cost 20,000 dollars) and the permit for its use and daily conducted the evening reporting to Czech Republic. Andrey with their help has communicated with his wife in Novosibirsk, has learned the situation in his firm and has transferred the appropriate instructions (having paid to the Czechs 6 dollars per each minute of conversation).
For the next day I planned (with the help of a yak, about which we had arrangement with leaders of TIST, and the guide) to ascend with a catamaran on Eastern Rongbuk Glacier for the altitude of 5,600 m (where in the glacier the small hollow is) and to float in the catamaran on the small high-mountain lake, about which I have learned from the book "Der Glaserne Horizont" ("Crystal Horizon") by Reinhold Messner. This small lake was seasonal, temporary (it existed from the beginning of summer till the beginning of autumn) and at the end of autumn froze (therefore in spring it was not). The climbers from Krasnoyarsk (Russia) (climbed of Everest in the spring 1996) in conversation with me (having been held before their ascent yet) have confirmed the possibility of existence of such lake at the end of summer. The Czechs have said me the same.
And to float on the lake at the height of 5,600 m before the rafting on the Rong Chu from Everest Base Camp (5,150 m) it was act of principle for me. The fact is, that in the Guinness Book of Records there appeared the record of Mike-Jones team from England, which before the rafting from height of 4,200 m on the Lobuche Khola and Dudh Kosi has crossed in two kayaks the small lake on Khumbu Glacier at height of 5,334 m. And in the Guinness Book of Records it was written, that this team has kayaked on the Dudh Kosi from this height (5,334 m). In spite of the fact that in 1991 I have descended on the Lobuche Khola from the height of 4,600 m (instead of 4,200 m, as the Englishmen), the record of the team of Mike Jones remained not beaten formally, though rafting on a river and floating on a lake are different things. Nevertheless I have conceived to beat the record of the team of Mike Jones, and to make it by their method - at first floating in a catamaran on the lake at the height of 5,600 m and then rafting on the Rong Chu River in a raft from the height of 5,150-5,200 m.
However at first an unpleasant surprise waited me - any yak and any porter have not been given by the firm TIST, and the guide has declared, that he is not a porter and will accompany me light only. That is, it was necessary for me to carry up the catamaran and personal water equipment myself. But to drag the load of weight of 30-35 kg at height of 5,150-5,600 m without the sufficient acclimatization - it is much too heavy employment. Therefore I have accepted the decision to lighten my load as much as possible, not taking neither the catamaran pipes (I have decided to connect the gondolas by ropes), nor the save-jacket, nor the water-protect trouser. Up to lake it was necessary to go ten kilometres about. And to come back to the camp we owed in the evening.
So, on September 1 in the morning we have set out. I have photographed some times (by both cameras - with negative and positive films) Everest - the landscape was very beautiful. And at 12 o'clock have arrived at the height of 5,600 m.
What I have seen here (and earlier, at height of 5,400-5,600 m, at ascent) made me glad wildly - at the height of 5,600 meters from retreated in the summer upwards Eastern Rongbuk Glacier the river ran out! Yes, yes, the suitable for rafting river! It was not necessary for me now to raise artificially the high-altitude of rafting on a river by floating on a high-mountain lake (though a few small lakes at height of 5,600 m were really available I saw them). Now I could begin the real rafting at the height of 5,600 m. And I have made so. The guide photographed me assiduously by both cameras.
I have rafted about kilometre on the river (I have named it by the Eastern Rong Chu River, by analogy to the name of the glacier) until on it there has appeared a number of impassable for my catamaran waterfalls. It was necessary to make a carrying. I inform you at once, forestalling events, that during the rafting in the raft from Base Camp (from the height of 5,200 m almost) on the Rong Chu and Phung Chu Rivers we have not made any carrying - the stability of the raft is much higher, than the stability of my small single catamaran.
After returning to Base Camp I have pleasantly spent the evening in the company of the Czech climbers.
And in the morning of following day the rafting in the raft on the Rong Chu River began. This day the three of us rafted. For the day, passing on the river about 20 km, we were lowered downwards for half-kilometre.
In kilometre after Base Camp there waited us a surprise the rapid of the sixth severity grade (when we were dropped upwards along the Rong Chu in a jeep, the road in this place moved aside from the river, and we did not see this rapid). To the point, I should note, that I have guessed concerning terms of expedition (the beginning of September), when, on the one hand, already the monsoon begins to abate, and, on the other hand - it is warm yet, and there is the intensive melting of glaciers. As a consequence of it, in the upper waters of the Rong Chu there was the rather large water-flow.
Unfortunately, as I did not expect the severe rapid in kilometre from Base Camp, and we only began the rafting in the raft (and it was necessary yet to get used to the seats), I have not taken with self in the raft any camera, therefore (though for the first time from all my seventeen foreign expeditions my group consists of three persons - usually I went either singly, or together with one companion only (the two of us), but anyhow by one crew) to photo the effective frames of passage of this rapid it was not represented the possibility. The rapid was almost kilometre long.
It is necessary to note yet, that though at the height of 5,100 m there is more oxygen, than at the height of 5,600 m, but anyhow it is not enough for usual intensive work by a paddle. Therefore we passed the rapid serially by small pieces. At the end of such water pieces the forces did not remain almost, and it was necessary to long recover breath.
Further for 17 km about (up to the bridge over the Rong Chu and one kilometre after it) there goes the continuous rapid of the fifth (in several places - the fourth) severity grade. The average slope of the river here is 25 m/km. And the average speed - about 10 km/hour.
We have spent the night on the right bank of the river one kilometre before the bridge over the Rong Chu. The next day (and hereinafter) Andrey, as about it we with him have agreed before trip yet, acted in the team already in a role of the bank videooperator.
In a kilometre after the bridge the river is simplified a bit, its slope is lowered a little, however down to the large automobile bridge over the Rong Chu (the road from the right bank passes on the left, it takes place in about fifteen kilometres from the first bridge - at numbering I do not take into account the small foot-bridge in the small canyon, met by us on the first day of the rafting) the river represents itself the continuous rapid of the fourth severity grade. On this site the average slope of the river is 19 m/km, and the average speed of current remains the same about, as well as earlier - 10 km/hour.
After the automobile bridge the river is simplified and flows quietly on the hollow in the region of settlement Paru (4,100 m), passes under the second large automobile bridge (here the road passes from the left bank on the right) and approaches to a rather deep gorge.
It is necessary to notice, that the beginning from here site of the route has become for us key. The fact is, that we had two maps of Tibet. On one of them the road along the Rong Chu went on its left bank down to the place of falling of the Rong Chu into the Phung Chu (near settlement Lochuri). On the second map just after the second automobile bridge the road departed from the river and over Daya La Pass left by a short way to Kharta, and the road along the Rong Chu was not further. Which of maps is correct - there did not know neither we, nor our guide, nor Mr. Jigmela (as anybody earlier did not raft on the Rong Chu, and necessity for firm TIST to accompany with anybody in a jeep on the road along the Rong Chu was not).
But if the road already has passed from the left bank on the right, it means that the first map is incorrect. So, is the second map correct? And hereinafter is it necessary to us to raft on the Rong Chu in an autonomous regime with all things without bank support (what complicates passage of a route sharply) and without video- and photoshooting? The question was for us extremely important. And though we did not know the answer to it down to achievement the Phung Chu River, but I say at once we were lucky. The road went hereinafter on the right bank of the Rong Chu practically up to its mouth, and then - along the Phung Chu on its right bank. Certainly, it frequently moved aside from the river, and we together with Boris rafted through practically all severe sites of the river autonomously (and, alas, here anybody did not photograph us). However after any distance the gorge extended a little, the road was lowered to the river, and our escort met us on the bank.
So, after the flat site in the region of Paru the river has come in a gorge, and yet in kilometre about lower we have appeared in a canyon. And here, after the right turn, I have seen before self the rather serious rapid, moreover its first step represented itself whether a powerful waterdrop, whether a waterfall. What is its height, it was impossible to define from water. It was necessary to moor to any bank and to reconnoitre this waterfall. But banks in the canyon were vertical perfectly, and to moor it was absolute nowhere. Anything did not remain, how to jump from this waterfall, of whatever height it was. It is always disturbing event - to jump from any waterfall or waterdrop, not knowing its height. You drop in it and wait: suddenly it will be necessary to fly five, ten, or twenty meters.
This time we were lucky - the height of this waterfall-waterdrop was about three meters, so we have overcome it successfully. However it was necessary to work further also, as after this waterdrop there were the most powerful "holes" and rollers (of up to 2.5 m depth and height). And though the level of water in the river was high, in it the separate large stones came across, on which water leaned. The rapid was obviously of the sixth-grade severity. And after it there was the long rapid of the fifth severity grade. The basic obstacles have remained the same - the powerful 2-2.5meter "holes" and rollers. After a few kilometres the river was simplified. Behind the settlement on the right bank there was the place, very convenient for spending the night.
Further, after a rather quiet site, the river has again come in a canyon. At its beginning the automobile bridge over the Rong Chu is thrown. But, to move in a car along the Rong Chu and Phung Chu, it is not necessary to pass this bridge. The basic road still goes on the right bank.
In the canyon there are again the severe and dangerous rapids. And just after it the Rong Chu falls into the Phung Chu. The water-flow of the Phung Chu is three-four times as much as in the Rong Chu. The Phung Chu in September is the most powerful river with the large water-flow (there water three about times as much as it was in April 1990 near Nepalese-Chinese border on Nepalese territory, where the river already is called as Arun). Just after the mouth of the Rong Chu on the Phung Chu there is the rapid of the sixth severity grade with the most powerful "holes" and rollers of up to three meters height. The river has become very dangerous.
Then there is the long rapid of the fifth severity grade, and the river gradually calms down. Then, passing under the bridge and turning at first to the right, and then to the left, the Phung Chu enters the next canyon with the next rapid of the sixth grade. In it there are the same three-meter rollers and 2.5-meter "holes". Besides, in the channel there are the large boulders at powerful heaving onto them.
Hereinafter the river now calms down, now again demonstrates the power by the next severe and dangerous rapid.
After settlement Kharta, near the Chinese-Nepalese frontier, we have finished the rafting.
That's all, it has happened that about what I dreamed the last five years - we made the first descent the Rong Chu and Phung Chu Rivers, one of two water routes down Everest. And in a sum of two expeditions (this and of April 1990) I have passed the whole mountain part (except prohibited China-Nepal border site only) of the complete water route down Everest on the Rong Chu, Phung Chu, Arun and Sapt Kosi Rivers, having begun from Eastern Rongbuk Glacier at the height of 5,600 m and having finished in Chatara (100 m above a sea level). And in view of Nepalese expedition in 1991 on the Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi and Sapt Kosi, I have become the first person, who had descended down Everest on the both water routes.
The next day the second part of our travelling - the returning to Kathmandu through Lhasa and, in parallel with this, the visiting different monasteries and other sights of Tibet (the excursion part) - began.
At first through Pang La Pass we have come back to New Tingri (but did not stay the night there), and then, having overcome Lhakpa La Pass (5,220 m), were lowered to settlement Lhatse (4,050 m). For the following day we have reached town Shigatse (3,900 m) and have visited in it the known monastery Tashilhunpo.
At the monastery temple there stands the gilt statue of Buddha of height of the several-floor house. We have associated with the monks, they have shown us the throne hall of panchen-lama Tenth (Lobsang Chhoki-getsen). Tashilhunpo was earlier the residence of panchen-lama, one of two (the second - dalhai-lama) supreme Buddhist hierarchs (leaders). Pan - from the Sanskrit "pandata" ("teacher"), chen - in Tibetian "great". Panchen-lama is considered the personification of buddha Amitaba.
Only at the second attempt Andrey, twisting the monastery prayer drums, has prayed successfully - at the first attempt he twisted drums in other direction, and the written down on them in Tibetian prayers (the basic of which is "Om mani padme hum..." - "Oh, the jewel in the flower of lotus,...") did not reach Buddha, but the old monk has corrected our comrade: "It is necessary to twist in the return direction", that Andrey then has made.
Then I have examined the Palace New Banken.
For the next day we stayed the night at a distance of 24 km from Lhasa on the orographic left bank of the Lhasa River, seven hundreds meters lower on vertical than the women monastery (being at the height of more than 4 km). Before it, at the crossing over the Lhasa River in the jeep, we have stuck in the river and with the help of the lorry during rather long time we were dragged out on the bank.
But before this we for a few hours went along the Brahmaputra River (Yarlung Tsangpo). As a whole the river here is not very severe, however the pair of the powerful, of sixth grade, rapids in canyons has been met.
In the morning of next day we set out on the trail and in three hours have reached the female monastery. About two hundred monks-women live here. Their life is rather severe. The stone cells, the caves for meditation. Meditating women alternately now don't eat for all day, now don't drink, now are silent for a few days. The internal decorations of monastery temple and the wall's murals, carried out by the bright paints, made the large impression on me.
And in one day we already roved through the capital of Tibet Lhasa ("Town of gods", 3,650 m). As a whole it is the modern Chinese town. There is a lot of the modern beautiful buildings from glass and concrete. However there are met the ancient structures also. And the mainest of them - Potala, the former residence of dalhai-lamas (from here the dalhai-lamas, beginning from Fifth and finishing Fourteenth, ruled Tibet and headed Buddhists of the whole world). The word-combination "dalhai-lama" is formed by the Tibetian word "lama" ("teacher") and the Mongolian "dalhai" ("ocean of wisdom"). Originally the dalhai-lamas were the leaders of school Galugpa ("yellow-cap-men"). From the middle of the seventeenth century the dalhai-lamads were the spiritual and fashionable rulers of Tibet (it was so till October 1950, when the People's Army of China has come into Tibet) and simultaneously the spiritual leaders of Buddhists-Lamaists of the whole world. As it is known, the present dalhai-lama Fourteenth (Lobsang Tentszinjamtso) as a mark of the protest against the actions of the Chinese power, having suppressed in 1959 the revolt for Tibet independence, has got over to Indian town Dharamsal.
"Potala" is the Sanskrit word, it means "harbour", "port". However, there is also the second variant of the origin of this name: the Tibetian word "Potala" means the mythical mountain, home of bodhisatwa Avalokiteshwara (in Tibetian - Chenrezi). Dalhai-lama is a incarnation of him.
Potala, sprawling on Marpori ("Red Mountain"), has length of 365 meters, width of 335 and height of 109 m. In it there are more than thousand rooms.
Each dalhai-lama had the personal throne hall and apartment. Earlier in the unholy white part of the building the supreme state officers lived and discharged service, in the seven-floor red part monks lived.
They prayed before the statues of Buddha and Bodhisatwa. Tibetians trusted, that the dalhai-lama is Bodhisatwa, enlightener, kind and wise, which has come back to the world to save the suffering humanity. He is the progenitor and patron of all Tibetians. When dalhai-lama dies, Bodhisatwa move into a new-born infant. The state oracle and lamas should find him among many new-born children on certain signs.
Certainly, we visited Potala. This visit made on us the ineffaceable impression.
Except Potala, we have visited in Lhasa the temple (it, simultaneously, is monastery also) Jokhang. This temple was based in 647 by the Tibetian (tubo) king Strontsan Gampo. In the central hall of the first floor there stands the statue of twelve-year Sakiamuni (princess Wan Chang). Around - the numerous gold, silver, copper and clay statues. However, they are met at the temple everywhere, not only on the first floor. We liked this temple very much also.
And in a day yet we already flied from Lhasa (or rather, from airport Gonggar, being at the height of 3,572 m not far from Lhasa) to Kathmandu.
The huge impression was made on us by the view of Everest. The cloud was at height of about 8,500 m. And the only thing, that juted out from clouds - it was the pyramid of Everest. For a few minutes I shot by videocamera the highest top of our planet, till it has disappeared behind the wing of the aircraft (to the point, we flied in "Boeing-757" of the Chinese company "South-West Airlines").
After high-mountain Tibet in Kathmandu (1,300 m above a sea level) you feel self as on plain. But it was no time to idle it was necessary (as Saturday was) to send urgently Boris to Moscow. We with Andrey made it successfully. And for the next day Andrey has departed also. So from our Tibetian team I have remained alone. But I had not to be bored in Kathmandu alone. At first I have got to know the Russian team of climbers from Peterburg, going on Mt.Dhaulagiri (Anatoliy Plotnikov, Nikolay Shustrov and others). With them everything was all right, and at me they have left to Pokhara. And then (in a day) I have got to know the Ukrainian climbers (Victor Pastuh, Gennagiy Vasilenko, Andrei Shpak and others), which owed in honour of the fifth anniversary of the "independence" of Ukraine to subdue the 8-km-mountains Shisha Pangma and Cho Oyu. However the guys had the large financial problems. They already for three weeks were in Kathmandu, but the money for the expedition still was not. The mood of the fellows was obviously rotten. Already it has become clear, that it is necessary to refuse Cho Oyu, and one Shisha Pangma remains only. The second Ukrainian team (in its body there was the most known Ukrainian climber Sergei Bershov from Kharkov) at this time already laid the way to the top of Annapurna. But the Shisha-Pangma's team still sat in Kathmandu. It was conspicuous the difference in behaviour and feeding of the participants of the both (Peterburg's and Ukrainian) teams. If the first ones cheerfully spent evenings at restaurant, the second ones drank tea with bubliks (bread rings) in their hotel room. I have spent with the Ukrainian team two evenings before my departure to Lukla. In the last evening Vitya Pastuh has offered me together with him and Gena Vasilenko to be photographed "for memory" by his photocamera. We have been photographed. I have sincerely wished to the fellows the success on Shisha Pangma.
In two weeks after my returning from Nepal to Moscow I have learned, that Victor Pastuh and Gennadiy Vasilenko were lost on the slopes of Shisha Pangma. They have disappeared in the evening, but they were searched for in the morning only. There, where the fellows have left in the evening, the several avalanches have passed by. Their bodies were not found. This news has staggered me - you see, I have said good-bye to Vitya and Gena less than one month ago.
At once there was recollected also the another sad history, which has happened in 1991-92. In Kathmandu in August 1991 I have got to know the Polish climber Wanda Rutkevitch, the most world-known climber-woman. As both of us planned in the summer 1992 to get to Pakistan on Baltoro Glacier (Wanda - for the next climbing in Karakoram, I - for the rafting on the Braldu River) and I had the large financial uncertainty, Wanda has offered me to carry out the delivery of my load to Baltoro Glacier together with her expedition. However for the first half of the following year I succeeded in the finding of the necessary money and have rafted on the Braldu in July 1992, and Wanda should arrive to Pakistan after my rafting already. But the guys from the team of Vladimir Balyberdin, met in Skardu, have informed me, that she was just now lost on Mt.Kanchenjunga. I was staggered. In a year Vladimir Balyberdin was lost also. In general, this theme is infinitely sad. I shall not discuss it then. Let's return to Nepal.
Having taken off from Kathmandu to Lukla, I spent two weeks yet in Solu Khumbu District. At first in the single catamaran I have rafted on the upper waters of the Dudh Kosi (runned down Mt.Cho Oyu) almost up to the mouth of its left tributary Imja Khola (up to the impassable canyon before its mouth; the passed route was of the sixth severity grade for my boat). And then on the same Dudh Kosi (but already in its middle part) I have passed the first kilometre of the canyon below Surke (I have gone round this ten-kilometre canyon in 1991). The difficulty was not only in the rafting through the sixth-grade-severity obstacles (with carrying round waterfalls), but also (in view of absence of a trail on the left bank immediately near the river) in the returning to Surke (the basic trail from Surke to Jubing move aside far from the Dudh Kosi). Then, passing over Zair Pass (of the height of 4,580 m) east of Lukla, I have got on the Hinku Khola and have rafted on this river a little.
In Lukla and Kathmandu I have got to know the ex-Soviet (including Russian) pilots of the Soviet helicopters Mi-8 of the local aircompanies. The fellows seem to receive the considerable money in Nepal, but miss for the native land.
And, at last, by flight of Aeroflot I have come back from Kathmandu to Moscow. Thus my fifth Himalayan expedition has come to its close. By this expedition I have finished the seven-year series of raftings (fourteen expeditions) down the highest world's peaks. I made that, about what I dreamed for many years.
Each person should have dream, and, perhaps, not one only. Without dream the life cannot be interesting, full-bodied. And it is not important, about what the person dreams - to climb Everest or to play Hamlet, to become congressman or to fly into space. The great thing, that the person must aspired to embody his dream in life.
I dreamt to have rafted down Everest. I managed to make it (on the Nepalese route). Then I dreamed to descend in a catamaran (or a raft) from all 8-km-peaks and the highest peaks of all continents and Oceania. I succeeded in carrying out this dream also. I wanted very much to make the first descent-rafting down Everest in Tibet. I made it. Besides I have established the new record of the high-altitude rafting - 5,600 m.
But the life continues. And for change of one problem, already carried out, comes another. Now in my plans the motor-race through whole America (from Alaska to Argentina) with rafting in 5-6 countries. And in prospect - just a few more huge projects (only two of them are partly connected with rafting on the mountain rivers).
However I want to emphasize another thing - the fact, that the realization of each my dream has required from me the maximum effort in every respect (physical, psychological and etc.), and many travellings and expeditions were connected with large risk. And though, certainly, my large experience much lowered the degree of danger, but without luck it was impossible to turn out all right here. Looking back in the past and analysing all numerous dangerous situations, in which got, I begin to doubt time from time, whether have I exhausted the luck reserves alloted me by the fate. You see, it can not continue so indefinitely!
Well, judge for yourself. In 1976 during the rafting on the Khandyga River in Yakutia on the river there was the wild flood, caused by an incessant rain (as I was told at the water-gauge post in settlement Prizhim, for the day the level of water in the river has risen for five meters). The before-quiet river has flown into a rage. I together with my companion Sasha have nevertheless risked to set off to navigation in the kayak. In one of waterfalls, formed over bank stones, we have turned over, I have been carried off under any cliff, and during almost two minutes I was there in pitch-darkness, not knowing clearly, where is the top, where is the bottom, however not undertaking active actions (we were taught to don't make sharp movements in the similar situation for economy of oxygen in the lungs till you will be "spat out" onto the water surface).
And only when oxygen in the lungs dried up practically and at me gulping spasms have begun, I have become by desperate movements of hands to row upwards, and I managed to come up onto the surface. I began to gulp saving air into my lungs, but here it has appeared, that I have surfaced in any powerful jet rapid, and the huge rollers became to cover me over the head. But I was lucky: beside there has floated a large log, at which I had time to snatch. However there arose the new problem. At those times in the USSR it was accepted to raft in gummed hunter's trousers (pasted to top-boots), belted by a rubber belt (for prevention of spread of water into the trousers). But for two minutes of my stay under water the water has still filled in trousers, and in a result it has appeared, that I was floating on the river with two huge weights on legs actually. These weights did not allow me to get up on the feet on the shallow sites of the river. It dragged me, as a log, through these shoals, I counted all stones by my coccyx, but could not to get up. Eventually with the help of appropriate strokes by hands I have made so, that my body was washed ashore to pebble island, I (again - as a log) have rolled on it and then only could get up on the feet.
The not less serious extreme incidents have happened during the rafting on the Biy-Hem River in Sayan Mountains. It has turned out so, that I could not join with the group, rafted from the upper waters (and I got from below from Toora-Hem by a motor-boat to a waterfall and then by foot) - I was one day late, and the group has left from the stipulated beforehand place of meeting for one day before stipulated date of meeting. As I was going to join crew of a raft (and, naturally, except personal equipment, two hermetic bags and one paddle, have not taken anything with self - neither gondolas, nor axe), it was necessary to raft on the Biy-Hem River for about two hundred kilometres (to Toora-Hem) on the bundle of semi-damp logs (which held in water a part of my weight only) and save-jacket. This structure was terribly inertial. At the end of the first site of the rafting I was afraid, that the river can carry us off into the waterfall. It did not happen, but there has taken place another. At one of abrupt turns of the river there, at the left bank, was formed the large log-bunch (tree's choke), where my "ship" was draged (I rode on it without the save-jacket). Although I tried to leave from this congestion of logs, it was not possible for me to make this. And I with my pseudo-raft have been draged under this bundle of logs.
I was floating under water, naturally, with open eyes. A sight was terrible. Above my head and near it the logs dashed past me, and I had hardly time to dodge them. It was the real underwater slalom. In any moment I have noticed free space between logs, seized them by hands, pulled myself up and have appeared on the surface of water, and then have climbed on the top of the tree-choke. My "raft" stuck in logs. I have hardly freed from them my save-jacket and have started to bind new "raft" from the same semi-damp logs (the near-by dry logs were absent).
Another incident has happened already at the end of the rafting. To Toora-Hem it remained twenty kilometres about, however already the night was coming on. The big motor-boat "Raketa" from Toora-Hem to Kyzyl will leave on the next day at 8 a.m., therefore I aspired, in every possible way, to be in time to get to this settlement up to the above-mentioned time and have decided to go as longer as possible (because the rapids on the Biy-Hem was not expected). However the weather did not favour the conceived plan. The sky was closed by the heavy, of leaden colour, clouds. Because of them the transition from the day to the night has taken place very quickly. Literally for a few minutes I have appeared in pitch-darkness and did not see the banks absolutely.
I was draged through any channels, in pitch-darkness was switched by the bank-tree branches, my "raft" was turned over some times. I have thought, that the life is more precious than my things, have untied from "raft" the save-jacket and have put it on myself. During a few more minutes the branches of trees have rumpled us, and, at last, everything has calmed down, I have got in any backwater. I have felt by feet the bottom of the river and slowly have got out on the bank. Naturally, everything was wet, I have strongly frozen, and I had one-sole dry match only. It was the extremely responsible and exciting process lighting of a fire at presence of one match only. Fortunately, it was possible me to carry out the conceived thing, and I could dry up my things.
One more case. During the rafting on the Sokh River in Pamiro-Alai there was the turning over of our catamaran (I went in double catamaran with a companion). The companion almost at once has appeared on the bank, but I did not want to throw away the catamaran, therefore have got on it and tried to moor to the bank. But, on my trouble, we came nearer to one from five one-meter slots on the Sokh (here the banks converged, and the whole river - of width of forty meters about up to this - huddled into the slot of width of 1 meter among vertical cliffs, where broke all one, that there got). I succeeded miraculously in mooring the catamaran three meters before this slot, when, as it seemed, it was impossible already to avoid tragic outcome. In general it is necessary to tell, that my life creed everywhere and always to struggle up to the end, even if for favourable outcome there is only one chance from hundred.
As I already wrote earlier, and in my foreign expeditions it was not possible to avoid extreme incidents. That heavy case (during the rafting on the Dudh Kosi lower Jubing, when at passage through a slot between stones I was compelled to put the catamaran on a side) could be finished for me by the most tragic mode. After the first two-meter waterfall I have been torn off from the catamaran and have been thrown into the next two-meter waterfall. I have left under water, and did not see an anything ahead. If any rock has met the falling (together with me) flow, I should not write these lines already.
The very dangerous situation has happened on the Buri Gandaki, when my catamaran fell apart for two parts, and I, having seized these parts by hands, in such position was compelled to pass the severest rapids. 2.5-meter rollers covered me over the head, I fell in two-meter "holes" and for a few seconds left under water. It continued so during several minutes. The water was very cold, and I have terribly frozen. The forces became to leave me. And nevertheless I was lucky - I have been washed ashore.
I got in other dangerous situations also. The dangers were connected not only with the rafting on the river, but also with an environment (as, for example, on New Guinea Island). On the Karanga River and Blue Nile I have met crocodiles (only on the Blue Nile 11 pieces, there "was introduced" to the hippopotamus). In many countries (even in rather harmless Australia) the snakes and spiders represented the large danger. In Alaska at any moment we could meet a grizzly bear.
But frequently we should expect from the local people more dirty tricks, than from the representatives of the fauna. In Pakistan in region of our rafting down Mt.Nanga Parbat there was the war between the "shiits" and "sunnits", and at any moment the accidental (or unaccidental) bullet could shoot in one of us. In Peru the terrorists made havoc, killing the foreign tourists. In Tanzania the local gangsters attacked the white foreigners (they have cut the hand of my companion on travelling Gena with a knife). On New Guinea Island the cannibals did not disappear yet. And I do not want even to speak about stealing, you see, I was robed in Nepal, India, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ethiopia.
And despite all this, the travellings caused me the immense pleasure. To see new places, to acquaint with life of other nations - what can be more interesting? And I am happy, that I succeeded to have rafted in thirteen countries of the world.
However I can not stop upon achieved things. The new travellings attract me, call in a way. In the nearest plans - America... What will be then?
LIST OF RIVERS RAFTED BY V.LYSENKO FROM ALL 8,000meter-PEAKS:
1 Everest (8848m)
(a) Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi, Sapt Kosi (Nepal);
(b) Rong Chu, Phung Chu (China), Arun, Sapt Kosi (Nepal)
2 K-2 (Qogir) (8611m)
(a) Braldu, Shigar, Indus (Pakistan)
(b) Chogir (K-2), Shaksgam, Yarkand (China)
3 Kangchenjunga (8586m)
(a) Tamur (Nepal);
(b) Tista (India)
4 Lhotse (8516m)
Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi (Nepal)
5 Makalu (8463m)
Barun, Arun (Nepal)
6 Cho Oyu (8201m)
Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi (Nepal)
7 Dhaulagiri (8167m)
(a)Myagdi, Kali Gandaki (Nepal);
(b) Rahughat Khola, Kali Gandaki (Nepal)
8 Manaslu (8156m)
(a) Buri Gandaki, Trisuli (Nepal);
(b) Marsyangdi, Trisuli (Nepal)
9 Nanga Parbat (8125m)
Bunar, Indus (Pakistan)
10 Annapurna (8091m)
(a)Marsyangdi, Trisuli (Nepal)
(b) Modi, Kali Gandaki (Nepal)
(c) Kali Gandaki (Nepal)
11 Gasherbrum-1 (8068m)
(a) Braldu, Shigar, Indus (Pakistan)
12 Broad Peak (8049m)
13 Gasherbrum-2 (8035m)
(b) Shaksgam, Yarkand (China)
14 Shisha Pangma (8013m)
Bhote Kosi, Sun Kosi (Nepal)
LIST OF RIVERS RAFTED BY V.LYSENKO FROM THE HIGHEST PEAKS OF ALL CONTINENTS AND OCEANIA:
No. Continent: Peak
1 Asia: Everest (8848m)
(a) Lobuche Khola, Imja Khola, Dudh Kosi, Sun Kosi, Sapt Kosi, Arun (Nepal);
(b) Rong Chu, Phung Chu (China)
2 South America: Aconcagua (6960m)
Orcones, Las Cuevas, Mendosa (Argentina)
3 North America: McKinley (6194m)
McKinley, Kantishna (USA)
4 Afric: Kilimanjaro (5896m)
5a Europe: Elbrus (5642m)
Baksan; Kuban (Russia)
5b Europe:Mont Blanc (4807m)
Dora Baltea (Italy)
6 Australia: Kosciusko (2230m)
7 Oceania: Jaya (5030m)
Kemabu, Darewo (Indonesia)
Return to Journals of Previous expeditions