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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.

   Roadside we enjoyed 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 had seen.

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. Ben and Phil deliberated and decided to go big and get into the gorge while we would provide moral and media support.

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

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

If you peer into the hole hey is just barely visible.

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 drove on to the next rapid, one that had been pondered over during the road scout. It looked bad from all angles, but Ben walked to river level and declared it good to go down the left. Phil and Ben pulled up and scouted from the left bank, but quickly returned to their kayaks and ferried 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 was passable, but big. 

Phil Boyer runs the entrance to the mighty hole.

Ben Stookesberry gets a nice long stroke in…

and resurfaces clear of the backwash…

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

We setup above the last rapid of the gorge and awaited 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 dropped over the mountain tops, temperatures plummeted, and the Pakistani’s showed us how it’s done in the Karakoram.

Calculating the risk of the rapid and a swim, the river level team decided 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.