HELL OR HIGH WATER

Peter Heller, Author
Peter Heller, Author . Rodale $24.95 (278p) ISBN 978-1-57954-872-8
Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-0141-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5141-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-3141-9
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-452-28674-0
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-101-87204-8
Audio Product - 1 pages - 978-1-4001-2141-0
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Dedicated kayakers have long had their hearts set on the Tsangpo River, which cuts a gorge through Tibet many times deeper and steeper than the Grand Canyon; successfully navigating it is akin to snowboarding down Everest. The last major expedition of the 1990s ended when one of the kayakers drowned in the raging currents, but in 2002 a group led by adventure filmmaker Scott Lindgren, one of the extreme sport's most prominent heroes, gave it another shot. Heller was assigned to cover the expedition for Outside and, despite having completely worn out the cartilage in one hip, he decided to go for it. The story takes him to one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, still almost entirely untouched, but also subjects him to the ugliest aspects of human nature. Heller is unflinchingly honest about the hostility he faced from Lindgren and his companions, who openly attack the journalist for "getting rich" from their story, as well as the resentment that begins to well inside him at their condescension. Meanwhile, the locals hired to carry the equipment realize they have the upper hand and start extorting more money for their services. The drama on shore, however, is easily matched—sometimes surpassed—by the action on the river, which includes a few chilling brushes with death. Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek, as the crew lives up to the legacy of the great explorers before them. An offhand remark made to the paddlers early in the journey—that their story could be the kayaking equivalent of Into Thin Air —has come true in the best possible way. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Oct.)

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