In around three weeks a team of ten explorers will be heading out on expedition to Nepal to become the first people in history to navigate the Sun Kosi and Tamur rivers by Riverboard.
You only need to take a look at a map of the Sun Kosi to apprecaite that taking it on with little more than an adapted bodyboard and a set of fins is a bigdeal. The names of the river sections hint at the story ahead; there?s Big Dipper, Dummy To The Wall, Rhino Rock, Jawa, High Anxiety and eventually, Meatgrinder, which sounds every bit like it will rip you apart. ?We?ll have to read every wave, ripple and swirl, correctly, to get down the river safely,? says Huw Miles, the leader of a team of nine who are planning to riverboard down the Sun Kosi later this year. But more needs to be told about the Sun Kosi before the true nature of this adventure becomes clear. Snaking through Nepal, the river is a 280 kilometre stretch of class three to five rapids with water gushing along at 400 to 2500 tonnes per second. As Huw tells me, the river is fed from the melt water of the Himalayas - and that water comes down pretty angry. The Sun Kosi has been kayaked but no one has ever attempted to riverboard down it. There?s good reason for this; it?s one of the most tumultuous stretches of white water in the world. No doubt this is why Huw andhis team want to become the first to do it.
The ballsiness of the attempt has even prompted official backing from Sir Ranulph Fiennes who says, ?Riverboarding is definitely an up and coming extreme sport and these folk are at the forefront of it. A new generation of adventurers;different techniques, the same spirit. I wish them the best of luck and skills.? Quite rightly, the team is very proud that their plan has been acknowledged by one of the world?s greatest explorers and right now they are trying to increase monetary and equipment support for the attempt. Huw is already an accomplished riverboarder and no stranger to ?firsts?. In 2009, for a holiday, he and his girlfriend went to South America. While she followed in the car, Huw riverboarded down the rivers alone and accomplished four first new descents in Ecuador. Cold rivers in South America are all good, but the Sun Kosi is different. She is famous for swallowing expedition sized rafts in her vast waves and has beendescribed as ?biblical in size, stunning in scenery and alive with whitewater? and Huw?s team of nine are going to throw themselves right into it. Psychologically they will have to put up with being pulled, pushed and battered by the water as they aim to travel 30kms a day.
We're all trained to make split second decisions in the water, Huw explains. ?But each one of us will have to be in the best physical condition of our lives.? At face level, a riverboarder is so close to the water that they get a totally different experience than they would from being onboard a raft or kayak. A riverboarder feels every current in the river; not just the ones on the surface. The key is to find a breaking wave and surf it instead of paddling. As Huw says, ?Find the perfect wave and you can surf it for as long as you are physically able. It?s seriously addictive."" Huw started his riverboarding career in Queenstown, New Zealand. A Welsh man, the 27-year-old has worked and played in the outdoors for over a decade. Working as a guide on the Kawarau River, at the end of his first season, he helped set up the New Zealand Whitewater Boarding Association (NZWBA) with many of the other team members. The NZWBA now serves to unify and standardise practices across the industry. There are four different nationalities represented on the expedition (British, Kiwi, American and Israeli) and the crew of is made up of both men and women between the ages of 25 and 30. Most are river guides who have decades of experience between them. Off their riverboards, the team are keen snowboarders, wakeboarders, surfers, climbers, mountaineers, skiers, rafters, boxers and athletes ? all embracing the Adventure lifestyle.
Despite the team?s shared experience, Huw says they are still just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Huw plans to make a HD documentary of the descent down the Sun Kosi. With the sheer number of light but strong and waterproof HD cameras now available, we?ll be in for some incredible POV footage on their return. ?Never before has this feat been accomplished,? says Huw.
In this day and age, it is increasingly rare to be able to say that.? You can follow the team on facebook. (www.facebook.com/nepalriverboardingexpedition) Words by: Dan Tye of Adventure 52 Magazine.