Tag Archives: river descents

2004 Tibet. Up the Gurla Mandhata, down the Sutlej and around Mt. Kailash

A Camp on Sutlej

In a nutshell: Expedition to Western Tibet. Attempt to climb Gurla Mandhata peak (7694 m), first descent of the Sutlej river, pre-tibetan and tibetan cave settlements discovery on the banks of Sutlej. Tibetan pilgrimage routes around Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

Links: Lower Sutlej (Xianquan) in Tibet, 2004

Expedition map

All pictures from the map gathered in one album


Gurla Mandhata ascent map

To be updated.

2009 Pyanj. Photos for the interactive map

All pictures in this album are tied to a map. Here you can see the map these pics are tied to.

Photos by Dmitry Petrov and Artem Kozlov.

Cherchen: Video

Second tunnel of the Cherchen “Subway”

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Cherchen: the Idea of Expedition

Towering heights of the Kunlun, a huge mountain range bordering the Tibetan Plateau from the North, have down to present days remained a “blind spot” on the maps, where only very few paths have been made by very few travellers. One of the first of those, Nikolai Przhevalsky, gave Russian names to ridges and peaks in Kunlun. Major discoveries are still possible and are still made in this region even today, although it might seem that the “eyes” of observation satellites have penetrated everywhere. In 2009 the expedition lead by Otto Chkhetiani discovered a new summit, Eastern Chong-Muztag (6976 m), in the upper course of the Keriya river. A highest peak in the range that wasn’t mapped nor catched on satellite images.

Map of China. The red area highlights Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China, where the expedition took place. XUAR borders Tibet to the South, Quinghai and Gansu provinces of China to the East. Capital of XUAR is Urumqi. Along the southern border of Xinjiang stretch from the West to the East the ranges of Kunlun mountains.

From the glaciers of Kunlun, copious rivers break through the mountains on their way to Taklamakan desert, where they vanish in the immense sands. We know of only two attempts to descend these rivers. In 1990 an American team succeeded in conquering the middle and low course of the Yarkand River, the westernmost river in Kunlun. In 2007 a Russian expedition team lead by Sergey Chernik made the first descent of the upper course of the Yurunkash river, but ended by death of four members of the team on one of the most difficult stretches of the river.
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Cherchen: get ready for Subway

Cherchen tamed us inch by inch. The banks were coming closer and closer, and the slopes grew steeper. We moved on slowly, finding it more and more difficult to scout the coming rifts and rapids. We were looking at satellite images of the river downstream of us with a growing concern: there, at the pictures, the walls were coming so close, no water could be seen from above. That’s when the term “subway” appeared to designate those river passages, and the rapid in a gorge above the first tunnel of “subway” was called “Escalator”.

Feels like a real subway escalator – big gradient drop, something powerful roars underneath, the walls, all dressed in stone, pass by.

Whitewater Expedition to Kunlun, China, accomplished!

The team succeeded in the first descent of an increadible river – Cherchen, running down from Kunlun mountains to Taklamakan desert. There was everything you could imagine: pursuits, battles, Subway rafting!
We’ll start posting stories, pictures, movies, diaries and satellite communications with mainland Russia.
And here’s the Portrait of Cherchen – to start with.

Portrait of Cherchen (the nice brownish band down there is exactly it). To grasp the scale – the river discharge is 60 cubic meters.

Expedition dates: August 29 – September 27, 2012


  • Yuri Borisov
  • Anton Volkov
  • Sergey Galinski
  • Emin Nugaev
  • Alexander Selvachev
  • Vladimir Sitkin
  • Gleb Tulupov
  • Pavel Shvetsov

Stay tuned!

2003 Tibet. Nascence of the Great Rivers

In a nutshell: Expedition to North-Eastern Tibet. Descent of the Yangtze River from its upper course, passing the Russian Geographic Society mountain range (name given to the range by Nikolay Przhevalsky in his Tibetan expedition), first descent of one of the two Mekong river sources. Acquaintance to Tibetan nomads of the North Tibetan Plateau.

Walking down the Yangtze River
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2009 Descent of the Panj River

In a nutshell: Expedition to Badakhshan – a mountainous region at the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Descend down the Gunt, Bartang and Obihingou Rivers, and a short descent down the boundary River Panj. Acquaintance to Pamir and the Pamiri people.

Afgani bank of river Panj

Interactive map of the expedition

The map shows all sections of the rivers Gunt, Bartang, Pyanj and Obihingou, that we covered by rafting. All of them are shown in blue, except for the Pyanj – it is drawn in red, because we had to raft along the border between Tadjikistan and Afghanistan. On the first evening of this rafting, even those of us, who had never smoked before, were bumming cigarettes from the teammates. The next day guns were pointed at us from both banks of the river. However, the Afghanian put down his gun when he heard our shouts in Russian, and the kind Tajiks were only shooting their guns in the air.

We put some pictures on the map, that seem to be good illustration for the places we moved along. If you zoom in, you’ll get more photos on the map. During our descent down the Panj river Dima Petrov took some fantastic pictures of the riverside Afghanian villages.

All pictures from the map gathered in one album

If you just want to see pictures, without following the map – welcome HERE.

To be updated.

2008 Arunachal Pradesh

In a nutshell: Expedition to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. First descent of the Subansiri River, jungle trekking expedition to isolated tribes of Arunachal and Tibetan-speaking Memba tribes.

Spider-bridge in Arunachal

Interactive map of the expedition

Routes of both parts of the expedition – the rafting part and the trekking part – are mapped here. The map shows milestones – our camps, villages, locations of emergency events.

The map also hosts pictures made in expedition. The more you zoom the map, the more pictures will appear on it.

All pictures from the map gathered in one album

If you just want to see pictures, without following the map – welcome HERE.

Key to lines and symbols on the map:
- yellow lines – moving on a motor vehicle
- green lines – trekking in jungle
- blue lines – rafting down Subansiri on catamarans
- white semitransparent lines – heave gauge transportation: airplanes, train, bus
– settlements
campground – expedition camps
water – locations of the smaller catamaran collapse and of the bigger catamaran overkeels
To be updated.

2007 Tibet. First Descent of the Litang River

Morning frost on Litang

Exploring headstream of Salween and first descent of the Litang River from source to the estuary. Red pandas everywhere.

Expedition materials are prepared for publishing and will appear on site soon.