Chapter 6. Scouting and Portaging: Set Your Own Course


Few other sports require the processing of so much data so fast. Survival depends on split-second decisions, both reflexive and deliberate—and not just one or two in a drop, but continuously, in a dynamic flow of constant recalibration. One mistake in the thousands of moves in a single day—going a foot too far to the left, or getting thumped off line at the wrong moment—and your life may end.[1]

 --Peter Heller, Outside magazine, on the descent of Tibet’s Upper Tsangpo Gorge

On the tenth day of an historic first run down the menacing Upper Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet in 2002, kayaker Johnnie Kern was driving into a “must-make” ferry—paddling upstream across the current to a safe haven behind a ...

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