Hell High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River by Peter Heller, Patrick Lawlor |, Audiobook (CD) | Barnes & Noble
Hell High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River

Hell High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River

by Peter Heller, Patrick Lawlor
     
 
The Tsangpo Gorge in southeastern Tibet has lured explorers and adventurers since its discovery. Sacred to the Buddhists, the inspiration for Shangri La, the Gorge is as steeped in legend and mystery as any spot on earth. As a river-running challenge, the remote Tsangpo is relentlessly unforgiving, more difficult than any stretch of river ever attempted. Its mysteries

Overview

The Tsangpo Gorge in southeastern Tibet has lured explorers and adventurers since its discovery. Sacred to the Buddhists, the inspiration for Shangri La, the Gorge is as steeped in legend and mystery as any spot on earth. As a river-running challenge, the remote Tsangpo is relentlessly unforgiving, more difficult than any stretch of river ever attempted. Its mysteries have withstood a century's worth of determined efforts to explore its length. The finest expedition paddlers on earth have tried. Several have died. All have failed. Until now.

In January 2002, in the heart of the Himalayan winter, a team of seven kayakers launched a meticulously planned assault of the Gorge. The paddlers were river cowboys, superstars in the universe of extreme kayaking who hop from continent to continent ready for the next death-defying pursuit. Accompanying them was author Peter Heller. A world-class kayaker in his own right, Heller has logged countless river miles and several major first descents. He joined the Tsangpo Expedition as a member of the ground support team and official expedition journalist and was also granted the exclusive opportunity to write the book about the descent.

Hell or High Water is that book—greatly expanded from his coverage for Outside magazine. Filled with history, white-knuckle drama, and mutiny in one of the world's most storied—and remote—locations, Hell or High Water is as riveting as any of the great epic adventures throughout history. Publication coincides with the release of a documentary about the expedition by National Geographic.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek.... The kayaking equivalent of Into Thin Air." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Publishers Weekly
Dedicated kayakers have long had their hearts set on the Tsangpo River, which cuts a gorge through Tibet many times deeper and steeper than the Grand Canyon; successfully navigating it is akin to snowboarding down Everest. The last major expedition of the 1990s ended when one of the kayakers drowned in the raging currents, but in 2002 a group led by adventure filmmaker Scott Lindgren, one of the extreme sport's most prominent heroes, gave it another shot. Heller was assigned to cover the expedition for Outside and, despite having completely worn out the cartilage in one hip, he decided to go for it. The story takes him to one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, still almost entirely untouched, but also subjects him to the ugliest aspects of human nature. Heller is unflinchingly honest about the hostility he faced from Lindgren and his companions, who openly attack the journalist for "getting rich" from their story, as well as the resentment that begins to well inside him at their condescension. Meanwhile, the locals hired to carry the equipment realize they have the upper hand and start extorting more money for their services. The drama on shore, however, is easily matched-sometimes surpassed-by the action on the river, which includes a few chilling brushes with death. Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek, as the crew lives up to the legacy of the great explorers before them. An offhand remark made to the paddlers early in the journey-that their story could be the kayaking equivalent of Into Thin Air-has come true in the best possible way. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Lest we think that grand adventure into the unknown-like that of 19th-century explorers Burton, Livingstone, and Stanley-can now be found only in outer space, this wonderful book reminds us that there are still incredible challenges on Earth awaiting the intrepid. Heller, a well-traveled kayaker and writer for Outside magazine, superbly chronicles the saga of a bunch of daring and meticulous kayakers who successfully ran the deadly Tsangpo River Gorge, the paddler's equivalent of Mount Everest. Their successful quest conveys all the drama and derring-do of the works of Thor Heyerdahl or the explorers of the so-called Dark Continent. An enthralling tale for anyone who joys in conquests of new frontiers.-Jim Casada, Past President, Outdoor Writers Assn. of America Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A hearty report on the running of Tibet's Tsangpo River, modestly diminished by the author's observer status. Heller (Set Free in China, 1992, etc.), an accomplished kayaker in his own right, was not asked to join the team of seven men assembled to make the first run down the Upper Gorge of the Tsangpo River, unknown but understood to be hellacious due to the elevation drop. Instead, Outside magazine, which sponsored the expedition, asked him to serve as the project's writer. Immediately he was at loggerheads with team leader Scott Lindgren, who had his own designs on selling the story-if he came back alive (the Tsangpo has a bad habit of killing people). Heller does a smooth job of introducing the participants and, at first, a rip-roaring job of evoking the river's conditions. But there are only so many ways you can describe "colliding sheets of water, whirlpools, and chaotic waves" before the modifiers simple run out. "A trough in which you could comfortably park Greyhound's express bus to Endsville" is good, but more phrases run along the lines of "10,000 cfs of steep, technical, bronco-busting mayhem," which is not so good. Wisely, Heller turns to the history of the area's exploration, to its natural history (man-sized ferns, rhododendron forests, and alarming wildlife), to the kayakers' river stories (endless and boggling), and to fine accounts of the villages: "The air smelled of blossoms and tilled earth and rushed with the sound of the two rivers. We could hear chopping and distant singing." Despite the secondhand material from the kayakers, who were not the best communicators, readers fail to gain any sense of what it was like to be seated in one of the boats, getting beat like agong and loving it. Considering the irascibility of the team leader and his distance from the action, Heller works a difficult story gamely, getting enough color into the narrative to keep readers involved, if not exhilarated. Agent: Kathy Robbins/The Robbins Office

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400101412
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
10/31/2004
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.11(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek.... The kayaking equivalent of Into Thin Air." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Meet the Author

Patrick Lawlor has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in just about every genre. He has been an Audie Award finalist several times and has received several AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has won a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, numerous Library Journal and Kirkus starred audio reviews, and multiple Editors' Picks, Top 10, and Year's Best lists.

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