It's now four weeks ago since we arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal. Luke Wielatt, Simon Hirter, Toro Rogenmoser and Ruedi Raschle, we all look back to a very intense time on and beside the river. Our plan was to paddle on the Barun river as much as possible and then paddle down the Arun from 20km further up then the normal put in of the upper gorges.
The idea to fly in to Tumblingtar failed because of the monsoon that had destroyed the airstrip there. We quickly changed the plan: instead of taking a 20 hour bus ride to the east, we just kayaked this part. First a warm up run on the classic Bothe Kosi, then we put in one day Jeep ride further up then the normal start on the Tamba Kosi. It took us three days to reach the confluence with the Sun Kosi. Three days of great kayaking! One day enjoyable class 5, another day awesome class 4. This is one of my favorite runs in Nepal.
We always found some really nice beaches to set up a camp, cooking dinner, playing cards and drinking tea. For the 180km down the Sun Kosi we spend four days. Most of it was flat, but between some really cool and big rapids, surrounded by beautifully valley with only a few villages and local people.
In Dharan, a big city at the take out, we went out for a proper dinner, filled up our stock of Snickers and Red Bull and headed with the local bus north to Hile and further by Jeep to Tumblingtar. We stopped one day in the local lodge, trying to find porters for the following hike and a Jeep that brings us further up to the end of the road. But it was Nepali festival, like Xmas for us and nobody was willing to work and make some money.
A day later we caught a Landrover, together with a Israeli mountaineer, his and our porters... we ended up with 16 people in the Offroader for the next seven hours. For my legs was no space in the car, so I spend the whole ride standing on the roof ladder or running in front. The road was washed out by the monsoon and in a very bad shape. Late afternoon we arrived on a pass, the end of the road. We shouldered our gear, the porters our kayaks and walked till the night came in. We found a little guesthouse to spend the night, but it was not really a guest house. There were two beds for our five porters and a wooden floor for us and the Kayaks. Nepali people always cook on fire inside their house without a chimney. Smoke is everywhere, burns in your eyes and the gear smells like it's been smoked.
These are the experiences every one should have in Nepal. Forget the Tourist bus, forget Thamel or Pokhara, forget hotel or guesthouses like we expect it, forget European food! If you want to suffer Nepal, eat two times a day Dahl Baht!
The next three days we hiked up the valley till we came to the Barun confluence. Our hope to hike up the Barun along the river, broke down as we saw the river coming out of a absolutely inaccessible narrow canyon. We took one day rest before putting in on the Arun.
From the trail we hiked up to Barun Bazar, we saw the river for a few times and knew that it will be full on kayaking. When we paddled out of the eddy, we quickly realized that current was much stronger then we expected. A deep riverbed that build crazy seams, boils and whirlpools everywhere. The main rapids were most runnable in the main water, but if you do any little mistake you're fucked up. The Arun was so continuous, that we run most of it class 5 shore line. One 5+ rapid led into a class -5 and back to 5+. Just to paddle to the other riverside was harder then most of the kayaking any of us have ever done. After this first day we were super tired and ready to sleep. The weather this days was uncommon for Nepal with rain every night, but we had no tent. We had to find big rocks to sleep under and it wasn't easy to find firewood to cook dinner.
Anyway, the next day the river showed us the same face as at the beginning. After two hours we run a easy chicken line Toro and I have scouted before. Simon get pushed from the current to much to the right side and stuck on a rock.... the boat straight up to the sky and water flows over his head. The good luck for us- the rock he struck was just a three meter jump from the shore away, so Luke got there to pull him out of the boat. He was also able to save his camera bag and sleeping bag out of the kayak before it got pushed completely under water without any chance to get it out again. All of us were super happy Simon was ok, but to loose the boat here in this remote area is the biggest shit that can happen. Simon also lost his shoes and my Teva Flipflops Size 9 were not a big help for the three day hike out! He's got shoe size 14! There was no other way...
We kept on paddling for a few rapids on this super difficult whitewater and then the river started to become easy and enjoyable for the rest of the day.
This night we slept just below the standard put in of the upper Arun gorges. From here we had one day of great class 5 paddling with some 4 in-between and on second day continuous class 4 for 40 kilometers. A great river, challenging, mentally demanding, in some awesome canyons far away from civilization. We took out in Tumblingtar where we met the next morning Simon again. Happy everyone was ok. The airstrip was still not fixed, but now the planes were using the big grass field beside. We flew back to Kathmandu and after the Steakhouse had a big smile in the face!
my friends left Nepal already and flew back home. I'm trying to go to Thuli Bheri, but the weather is still very bad and there are no planes flying this days..... So let's see whats coming next.......... for sure in December kayaking and surfing in Indonesia and the three months paddling in Patagonia....
Living the whitewater lifestyle, traveling around the globe, paddle some of the best rivers and explore remote areas, cultures and rivers, always with the focus to do this on the highest possible level of whitewater kayaking. Thanks to all of you for making this possible!