Kayakers Conquer Legenedary Tsangpo Gorge With Chevy Avalanche's Help
DETROIT - Chevy Avalanche teamed up with Outside Magazine and world class kayaker and Emmy-award winning cameraman, Scott Lindgren, to successfully accomplish the first descent of the most feared whitewater on the planet.... the Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet. The Tsangpo, often referred to as "the Everest of Whitewater" is the world's deepest gorge and, until now, had stood as one of the last great unconquered adventure prizes on the earth.
Chevrolet airlifted three North Face Chevy Avalanches from Detroit to Tibet to transport Lindgren and a team of kayakers through a rugged trek of the mighty Himalayas en route to the starting point on the Tsangpo in early February. The Avalanches transported seven paddlers, 14 kayaks, and 1,000 pounds of gear across some of the world's most rugged terrain.
Lindgren and team caught the epic journey on film and are in the midst of producing a one-hour documentary, Chevy Avalanche Presents "Into the Tsangpo Gorge" to run on NBC Sports on May 26 at 2:30 p.m. (EST).
"Half the battle with any major kayak expedition in the Himalayas is getting to the 'put in,' because the road conditions in Tibet are like the weather, always changing and extremely challenging," said Scott Lindgren, expedition leader. "Not only did the Chevy Avalanche get us there in comfort and style, but we were never compromised by road conditions or the terrain."
"The trek through Tibet and the Tsangpo Gorge was truly the ultimate test for the ultimate utility vehicle, the Chevy Avalanche. The truck's design was inspired by this kind of extreme activity, so we viewed it as a perfect opportunity to showcase the Avalanche's off-road capabilities, passenger carrying versatility and unique cargo space," said Thomas Nellenbach, Chevrolet's marketing manager. "The Avalanche provided reliable and geographically relevant transportation to help make the exploration a success."
The three Avalanches are production North Face vehicles without any modifications except for a brush guard, roof rack, running boards and tires that were added for the trip.
The Tsangpo Gorge is one of the most isolated places in the world, with its mountainous ominous terrain. The Tsangpo River runs east through Tibet along the northern slope of the Himalayas, then takes an abrupt hairpin turn near the eastern edge and flows south and then west into India. The Upper Gorge, the most feared whitewater on the planet, has been measured at 18,000 ft. deep, three times the depth of the Grand Canyon and the river drops up to 250 ft. per mile compared to eight feet per mile in the Grand Canyon
"Each vehicle carried four team members with room to spare, three abreast in the back and one riding shotgun. We had landed at around 10,000 feet and were now driving up at around 12,000; we'd climbed 2,000 feet in about 30 miles," said Allen Ellard, expedition team member. "Along the way we stopped to check out the flow of the Tsangpo as we reached its banks for the first time. In many towns, people crowded around the vehicle, the likes of which they had never seen before. It's not every day you get to drive a brand new Chevy on a Tibetan plateau."
Lindgren, 30, led the Tsangpo Expedition, supported by an international team from countries including England, New Zealand, Canada, China, Nepal, South Africa and the United States. Lindgren and his team shot video of the expedition. The last attempt to conquer the river was in 1998, but ended tragically when a member of the kayaking team drowned near the entrance to the Gorge and the expedition was called off.
"In my opinion, we have just pulled off the greatest whitewater challenge in history. And not one person was injured, it is quite an accomplishment," said Lindgren.
Full coverage of the team's dispatches, maps and bios, are available at www.outsidemag.com.