Running through the southwest corner of Tibet, the Tsangpo River is the last and most dangerous uncharted whitewater passage. It is also a place of extraordinary beauty, coursing through snow capped mountain ranges and ripping through verdant jungle. It is no wonder that local legend has this place as the sacred site of Shangri-La. And according ...Read MoreRunning through the southwest corner of Tibet, the Tsangpo River is the last and most dangerous uncharted whitewater passage. It is also a place of extraordinary beauty, coursing through snow capped mountain ranges and ripping through verdant jungle. It is no wonder that local legend has this place as the sacred site of Shangri-La. And according to kayaking legend, the Tsanpo Gorge is the Holy Grail of rafting. In October 1998, a team sponsored by National Geographic set out to conquer it. En Route, they found that NG had also sponsored another team whose descent was timed just after their own. The chance of success was slim, but the race was officially on...This is a breathtaking story of trial and tragedy, which simultaneously gives inspiring insight into the self-illumination and growth experienced by people who match their skill, strength, stamina and inner resources against the most formidable of obstacles. "With his riveting account of the trip, Balf has supplied a smart introduction to the daredevil lifestyle of river runners". ("Fortune").Read Less
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If you have kayakers in your midst, their particular brand of thrill seeking may seem strange and inaccessible to a non-paddler. The Last River brings this mysterious cabal into stark relief, in a band of adventurous characters that form a tight team, at once superhuman in their ambitions, and strikingly pedestrian in their lifestyles. The story weaves together the land and the people so well, that even an avowed terrestrial can imagine and appreciate the draw of the whitewater rush. The tragedy does get infused with cause and meaning more biological and psychological than philosophical in nature, but no less intense for its concrete origin.
Apr 10, 2007
Hyped to the teeth as a worthy addition to the body of man-against-nature literature, this book has invited comparisons to Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" and Sebastian Junger's "Perfect Storm." And while Balf, a former editor for Outside magazine, writes in a style quite similar to Krakauer's, he never manages to penetrate to the nuanced, deeper meanings inherent in the events demonstrated with such mastery by Krakauer and Junger. This is not to say the book is not interesting or highly entertaining (it is), and it is compelling in the way that most books about tragic events are. The book is rather heavy on detailed information about kayaking, hydrodynamics, and Tibetan geography, but this info is woven effectively into the narrative such that it never becomes tedious. Definitely of interest to paddle sports enthusiasts and those who love adrenaline-fueled adventure stories.
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