On March 23, the Epicocity Crew completed the first stage of their Rivers in Demand Project in China by documenting 200 miles of the Mekong River within the burgeoning
conflict region of Tibet. The crew looks forward to moving past the political unrest and
returning to their focus of raising awareness to the value of free-flowing rivers in
On March 13, one day before riots began in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa, Travis Winn, Trip Jennings, Adam Elliott and Andy Maser were forced to change course to the Mekong River after a police checkpoint in Tibet blocked the crew from continuing to the originally planned put-in of the Salween River. By the March 14, the crew had began paddling 200 miles of Class V whitewater while the long-held question of Tibetan sovereignty erupted in violent protest across Tibet and the surrounding provinces. The crew first learned of the conflict via satellite phone while in a river canyon lined by 20,000 foot peaks.
The Chinese government closed the region to both foreign and domestic travel. The team feared that discovery by authorities could result in detainment and confiscation of media produced from the expedition. After 140 miles of isolated whitewater, they reached their first possible take-out as a military convoy of 30 troop transports rolled past. The crew opted to continue downstream into another seventy miles of undocumented whitewater with a dwindling food supply. The whitewater was safer and more reliable than facing Chinese authorities within the conflict region. The new plan called to take-out at the relative safe-zone on the border of Tibet and Yunnan Province, China.
After three more days of the hardest and most spectacular whitewater of the expedition, the crew reached the relative safety of the border. The paddling of the expedition was complete but the crew had to make it past the now restricted prefecture of Deqin, just outside the border of Tibet. On March 24, after passing military checkpoints, they arrived into safety in the city of Shangri La. They are now gearing up for the last descent of the Great Bend of the Yangtze in early April.
For additional information, photos and satellite updates from the field visit Riversindemand.com