The plan was to work our way steadily upstream pushing ourselves more each day and adding another section of a few more kilometers each day until we were at the border with Tibet. This start easy and work up to the hard stuff seemed like a grand plan.
There was just myself and Anton Immler on this trip, sure a small number for running hard whitewater but after paddling with Anton for almost 2 months in Nepal and many more in Uganda we felt pretty confident as a team, and when there's just the two of you faff is down to a minimum, and it's much quicker to keep moving.
Our trip started at Sukute Beach camp where the Bhote Kosi becomes the Sun Kosi. We arrived with all the girls on Inka's Nepali Girls paddling trip. We arrived in the morning and helped them pack their gear and saw them off. They were heading downstream for 10 days, we were heading upstream and had just 5 days to reach the border so that we had time to hit up the Upper Seti before meeting back up with the girls for the Peakuk Himalayan Challenge.
So the first day and not a good start with me sick and unable to paddle. However we quickly made things right and got on the water to paddle the usual 'classic' sections of the river. The sections from Borderlands Resort down to Sukute beach are awesome sections of whitewater, no portages and only one or two rapids to inspect. The best thing about the Bhote Kosi is that there is absolutely no flat water, it's continuous the entire way so you're pumped up the whole time and running rapid after rapid on-sight and loving it!!
After paddling the usual section we headed upstream with all our gear and set our selves up in the town of Barhabise. Barhabise is a shithole - the trucks start their horns at 5.30 am and don't cease their noise until late at night, there is nothing good about the town, it's full of trash and unsurprisingly it has the highest suicide rate of any town in Nepal.
Anyway it was a good location for us to session more of the river, and a cheap place to stay. The next day we paddled the canyon section of the river, from just abouve Last Resort Camp and down to Bharabise. The Canyon was super sweet - just full of great whitewater and in an amazing setting. On the way out of the Canyon there's two rapids of note. The first we portaged - although it definitely goes - just a bit of a knife edge of a line with major consequences if you fall off line.
The result being the above photo!! Anyway It's only healthy to take a swim every now and then and I honestly can't remember my last swim before this. My boat was pushed behind a big rock, so after a little swim for it we carried on and it was more sweet whitewater all the way back to Barhabise.
After a terrible nights sleep, with shouting locals waking us up at 1.30am and the buses horns starting at 5am we moved ourselves and all our gear to Tatopani - not quite the border town but only a couple of km off. So we jumped on the roof of the first bus and were happy to leave Barhabise behind.
After finding a Hotel and dumping our stuff we kitted up and jumped another bus about 5 or 6km further upstream, right up to the border gates. It was about lunch time so we had a good bit of daylight left. Well the river here was insane. Our first mission was just to find somewhere suitable to get in.
Well it wasn't to be. The first rapid we got down to characterised the river. Yes it would go, but there were at least two nasty siphons and some pretty major moves. Basically with just 2 of us most of the rapids were a no go - however if you had the time and a good team of 4-6 paddlers to set up some must needed safety cover, you could push yourself down some pretty cool rapids.
So back to the story, Day 2 from the border, rapid number 1, sneak line PIN.
-One boat successfully un-pinned woohoo-
-Photo Anton Immler-
So we managed to complete this section back down to the upper dam this day - however our progress was painfully slow. For hours we were haunted by the sight of our put in - only a few hundred meters away as we scouted paddled, ferried and portaged our way slowly downstream. Even when we knew we had to portage half the time it wasn't that simple. Must make ferries and eddies with no second option in order to reach the opposite back and portage. There were definitely some fine rapids, but once we'd made our take out we both decided that honestly it wasn't worth it. That upper section is one I'll happily miss next time! What an epic!!
So we had one more day left and one last section to run, the upper dam down to Last Resort Camp (just above the canyon).
So another bus ride down stream and we put on. What a relief it was to actually be paddling some nice read and run grade 4+ again, and not have to get out of the boat. Actually getting a chance to get the arms working is something you appriciate after the two days we'd just had.
-One of 3 portages on this section-
So this was an awesome section to paddle. There were three portages - this one above was quite crazy. From where we were inspecting after the big drop it looked pretty sweet. So off we went, jumped into our boats and peeled out of the eddy - across to the otherside as we hopped downstream. Well it was a pretty funny moment actually, we found ourselves in an eddy we couldn't get out of with bedrock up the side - no way back to where we'd come from and a crazy gradient downstream. We looked at each other as if to say 'how did that get there? I thought it was flat!' And then we peeled out and just hit it up. It was a sweet, but pretty pushy rapid especially dropping into the unknown!! Anyway we'd try not to do that again!
Next portage was a bit of a hike up and around a really narrow closed in drop - the only way back in to seal launch back into the slot, just passed the boil line and paddle out...
And that was pretty much that. Lots more cool rapids to the take out, but as is the way on this kind of mission, you never stop at the good read and run stuff - so there's no more pictures!!
We did it anyway, we said we wanted to paddle from the Tibetan border, and we did. We had to walk a bunch up near the top but most of that was just silly stuff! We saw a few waterfalls worth checking out along the way too. And we had a sweet time. It was a proper mission. At the end we were sore and tired, so we gave ourselves an extra day off. But it got us in shape for the Upper Seti Mission which I've already written about, and that's what we did straight after this.
Anyway this is my advice for the upper Bhote Kosi. If you're up to it - ie grade 5+ continuous rapids, and you've got a decent sized team and are prepared to take your time then go and session it, but take care cos there's a lot of sives!! If not then don't waste your time - start below the upper dam and have some fun sessions from there down...
Well - I've been a little slack on the blog so I hope this keeps everyone going. I'm still up at the lodge, but only for another few weeks and then my paddling season kicks off. After a brief holiday back to the UK, I'll be spending the summer working on the Nile again and then hopefully off back to Thailand in the Fall.
It sounds like a fun summer for a lot of people this year and everyone is spread around the world having some sweet missions. So see you all on the water soon and take it easy!!