The Last River
The Tragic Race for Shangri-la
By Todd Balf
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780609808016, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 26, 2001
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The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la is a breathtaking account of the ill-fated October 1998 expedition of an American whitewater kayaking team who traveled deep into the Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet to run the Yarlung Tsangpo, known in paddling circles as the "Everest of rivers." For Wick Walker and Tom McEwan, extreme whitewater pioneers, best friends, and trip leaders, the Tsangpo adventure was the culmination of a twenty-five-year quest for glory. Yet the team's magnificent dreams crumbled when their ace paddler was swept over a thunderous eight-foot waterfall, never to be seen again.
Here is a fascinating exploration of both the seething big water and perilous terrain of the legendary Shangri-la, and the men who dared challenge the furious rapids that raced through this 140-mile-long canyon. The Last River invites us to view the Himalayas from a totally new perspective -- on a historic river so remote that only the most hardy and romantic souls attempt to unlock its mysteries.
TODD BALF, a former senior editor for Outside magazine, writes for Men's Journal, Fast Company, and other publications. His cover story in Men's Journal on the Tsangpo and the Walker-McEwan expedition appeared in March 1999. He lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.
Heart-pounding . . . like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, The Last River is a page-flipping odyssey fueled by the adrenaline and near-madness of a team of well-heeled world-class thrill seekers . . ."
-- Entertainment Weekly
"Difficult to put down . . . a fascinating book . . . a kind of kayaker's Rashomon."
-- the New York Times
"A thrilling read about a terrifying expedition."
-- Men's Journal