Angus didn't know the Yenisey River existed until he came across its name in a book while researching another trip. The Yenisey, he learned, is the world's fifth-longest river, flowing 5,500 kilometers (3,300 miles) from western Mongolia to the Arctic Circle, and had never been run from source to sea. That kind of challenge proved irresistible to the Canadian adventurer. In short order, Angus (Amazon Extreme) cobbled together three companions and (barely) enough sponsorship dollars to keep them afloat, and in spring 2001 set off for Mongolia. The quartet paddled through territory covered by few travelers and even fewer writers. They dealt with financial difficulties, freezing temperatures, a kayak-swallowing maelstrom and more. The book is nearly a blow-by-blow account of the harrowing five-month journey, with trivial events reproduced as faithfully as extraordinary ones. Some sections read as though they were plucked unedited from Angus's journal (e.g., after mentioning fresh milk in one entry, he concludes, "The remaining liter of milk turned into yogurt overnight. I guess with unpasteurized milk, you don't need to stimulate the process. Still, it tasted great"). The characters Angus meets along the way-a kindly Mongolian army officer; a Russian mafia boss; and the indigenous people of the Arctic-are tantalizing, but Angus doesn't linger on them or on the three young men he's traveling with. Some readers may wish Angus had something more to say, in the end, than "we did it." Still, his book should please readers looking for a straightforward, uncomplicated adventure tale. Photos. (On sale Sept. 9) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
While some types of travel may be in decline, adventure travel remains strong, judging from the number of books that continue to come forth. Angus, a Canadian who makes a living from writing and filming his undertakings (Amazon Extreme), put together an expedition to kayak, raft, and row a river system collectively known as Yenisey that begins in Mongolia and flows north through Lake Baikal in Siberia and up into the Arctic Ocean. He was accompanied by another Canadian and two Australians. As this chronicle of their trip reveals, adventure travel today isn't what it used to be. The men used satellite phones for daily communication and had 600 pounds of high-tech gear, but their challenges were nonetheless considerable and involved not only natural obstacles but also bureaucratic and financial ones. This is a well-told and quite entertaining story about a land little known to the outside world. Larger public libraries with an interest in adventure travel may wish to consider adding to their collections. (Maps not seen.)-Harold M. Otness, formerly with Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
You’d think he would have learned from his Amazon misadventure, but humorously intrepid river runner Angus (Amazon Extreme, 2002) is back on the wildwater, this time following the mighty Yenisey. Thirty-five hundred miles long, running from Central Asia to the Arctic Ocean, the Yenisey (with its unruly tributaries the Selenge, the Ider, and the Moron) is no shrinking violet. Why would a person take it on after nearly dying, many times, while rafting the Amazon? Says Angus: "In spite of the pain, the rot, the smell, the arguments, the gunshots, and the altitude sickness, I had never felt so alive and engaged." It’s this bracing clarity before the squalid and the sublime that makes Angus so pleasurable a companion. He and his two friends know what they’re doing, but this is still a seat-of-the-pants operation: risk is part of the deal--on the upper river in particular, with its great sucking whirlpools and punishing whitewater--but willful stupidity is not (except for the time Angus gets separated from his companions for nearly two weeks, with only a kayak, a lighter, and his khakis). Hardship is everywhere, from biting insects to tempests to the "terrible time wading through chest-deep snow." On the other hand, Mongols and Russians are everywhere, and the most common words heard are "come and eat and drink with us!" The three young men eagerly comply, getting to see a cross-section of the riverside population: a few days with a mob man in Bratsk, an afternoon in a bear-fat-illuminated banya with a hunter-gatherer, a period of sharing a teepee with a Nenet family above the Arctic Circle. Even the lower river, typically a languid phase, is full of vim as they row around the clock to get tothe ocean before the river freezes solid and the quest to be first down the fifth-longest river in the world thwarted. Godspeed, Colin Angus, and may there soon be another river to fire your hapless exuberance and your readers’ good fortune.
Praise For Amazon Extreme:
“Not for the faint of heart . . . a riveting book that combines adventure, excitement, and human drama with just enough history and geography to help us share in the total experience.” -- The Tampa Tribune