Raka Tsangpo Headwaters in Tibet, 2005
This river was run on the way back to Lhasa after the team ran the upper Indus north of Mt. Kailash in western Tibet. There is a Class 3 rapid near the put-in (29 31 11N 86 17 54E) then after that the river is Class 2. The road parallels the river for the first few miles, then the river enters an open canyon. After about 15 miles, the river enters a very wide valley and the biggest challenge was picking braided channels that were deep enough to float. Shangri La River Expeditions originally planned to run the roadless canyon section below this braided section in 2002 (Sangsang, 29 27 19N 86 41 03E to Rutog, about 40 miles downstream), but the river was too low. In 2005, there was plenty of water, but locals told the team there was a one kilometer long landslide in the canyon about 30 miles below Sangsang. The team only had two days to boat the canyon, portage the slide and then continue boating 20 miles to Jonang, and the portage alone would have taken a day. Below the slide the river probably reverts to Class 2.
For more info see Trekking Mt. Kailash and Kayaking the Indus and Raka River Headwaters in western Tibet, China
Geology of the Yarlung Headwaters Area
Return to Yarlung Tsangpo First Descents
Info about rivers of Tibet and western China