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The Indus River through the Rondu Gorge
Northern Territories, Pakistan V+

Episode Seven


   Contact was made with Roland during breakfast, he informed us of a large gorge downstream that would warrant road scouting. There would be a bridge access above the gorge, so we packed camp into the boats and hit the water.

Once again thanks to Greg Garrison for loaning me the bivvy. 

 We pulled into an eddy above the bridge that hung suspended over a colossal rapid. Blasting for a new road directly above us took our attention away from the river, and we scurried up to the road and safety, not knowing if the workers had seen us.

Chris Korbulic, Phil Boyer and Ben Stookesberry hike to the main road.

The scale of the Indus is hard to get a true feeling of.

Roadside we enjoyed a breakfast of corn flakes with Haleeb “The Thickest Milk” and proceeded to be awed by the size of the river as it wound through the only true gorge we have seen so far.

The boys scout a very walled in section.

Ben Stookesberry at river level to check out yet another big cataract.

 The scout made it apparent that there would be an initial walk around the bridge rapid, followed by at least two more questionable portages in the gorge, and several mandatory rapids as large as anything we had run. 

My decision was easy. Still not fully recovered from the flu, easy downstream progress was priority, in this case a quick walk up to the vans. Chris was not feeling too swell either and accompanied me while Ben and Phil deliberated, deciding to go big and get into the gorge while we would provide moral and media support.

Ben Stookesberry on the entrance move of the first rapid, around a ledge hole… 

fWhich was followed by a deluge of water sliding into a mammoth pillow hole.

The final move of the rapid was through an absolute maelstrom of water. I didn’t really notice just how crazy the water in this shot is until I looked at it a while…a thirty foot wide, five to ten foot high exploding pillow off the wall. Observe Ben’s paddle sticking out in the middle of it.

On the road we got to see more than the river, here is a Skardu Highway car wash!

We drive on to the next rapid, one that has been pondered over during the road scout. It looks bad from all angles, but Ben walks to river level and declares it good to go down the left. Phil and Ben pull up and scout from the left bank, but quickly returned to their kayaks and ferry back to the right. The left side was too perilous, all the flow pushed into a sieve. From high on the right bank the duo pronounced the hole as passable, but big.
Eddying out to scout river left.

Phil Boyer runs the entrance to the mighty hole.

Ben Stookesberry gets a nice long stroke in…

With the beast slayed, Phil and Ben push downstream only to be greeted by another hole that is potentially terminal, and they make quick work of the portage.

We setup above the last rapid of the gorge and await the pair with a growing contingent of local spectators. 

Ben Stookesberry and Phil Boyer scout the last, and most locked in, cataract of the gorge.

The sun drops over the mountain tops, temperatures plummet, and the locals start a quick brush fire.

Calculating the risk of the rapid and a swim, the river level team decides to portage around the fearsome rapid. 

 We knew this one would be a complicated walk, and they were forced to seal launch in from considerable height. 

Ben Stookesberry about to make contact.

   Below the rapid Ben and Phil found a perfect beach for the group. Chris and I loaded our bags with food and we reunited on the beach to enjoy a memorable meal under beautiful vistas.