Yangtze River Expedition, 1986, An Adventure, photos by Ancil Nance except as noted

  • I was assigned by Sports Illustrated to photograph Ken and Jan Warren with the large mound of equipment that would supply the adventure. I was assigned by Sports Illustrated to photograph Ken and Jan Warren with the large mound of equipment that would supply the adventure.
  • Golmud, just south of the Gobi Golmud, just south of the Gobi.
  • A sidewalk cobbler in Golmud prepares a shoe. A sidewalk cobbler in Golmud prepares a shoe.
  • We moved all the supplies into large waterproof coolers and river bags. We moved all the supplies into large waterproof coolers and river bags.
  • The road overland to Tuotuoheyen went through dry mountains. The road overland to Tuotuoheyen went through dry mountains.
  • The river at Tuotuoheyen is shallow and wide, with many sandbars. Down river from this crossing the river continues as a flat, braided stream for 200 more miles. The river at Tuotuoheyen, basecamp, is shallow and wide, with many sandbars. Down river from this crossing the river continues as a flat, braided stream for 200 more miles.
  • The rigs were six-wheel drive army trucks, and working in tandem they were able to winch themselves through the bogs. The rigs were six-wheel drive army trucks, and working in tandem they were able to winch themselves through the bogs.
  • The route over the hills and through the pass had been traveled before, but it was not a road by any stretch of the word. Land expeditions had searched for and found the source. The route over the hills and through the pass had been traveled before, but it was not a road by any stretch of the word. Land expeditions had searched for and found the source.
  • Mt. Geledangdong in the Tangula mountains, the source of the Yangtze as marked by the Chinese explorers. Mt. Geledangdong in the Tangula mountains, the source of the Yangtze as marked by the Chinese explorers.
  • A marker had been placed on a low hill in front of the glacier to denote the source. A marker had been placed on a low hill in front of the glacier to denote the source.
  • It snowed lightly one night on the way overland, and we met a few nomads on horses. It snowed lightly one night on the way overland, and we met a few nomads on horses.
  • They looked like bandits, but were content with the Marlboros that Ken handed out. The few nomads we met appreciated the smokes Ken handed out.
  • In order to make the approach more interesting for the film, the plan was to ascend to the source using yaks to carry gear and a couple of Tibetan ponies to give the film crew something more to work with rather than going all the way in trucks as the other teams had done. In order to make the approach more interesting for the film, the plan was to ascend to the source using yaks to carry gear and a couple of Tibetan ponies to give the film crew something more to work with rather than going all the way in trucks as the other teams had done.
  • Morning camp along the Yangtze Morning camp along the Yangtze
  • Mounds of plants and flowers on the way to the source Mounds of plants and flowers on the way to the source. These forms are an adaptation to the harsh weather at 16,000'.
  • Group shot at the source Group shot at the source
  • John Glascock and Dan Dominy film the prep John Glascock and Dan Dominy film the prep
  • Ron Mattson gets a first spin in the source pool Ron Mattson gets a first spin in the source pool
  • The first 200 miles we traveled in rubber kayaks The first 200 miles we traveled in rubber kayaks
  • Star tracks one evening Star tracks one evening
  • Sunset along the river Sunset along the river
  • Looking back to the source from a high rocky point Looking back to the source from a high rocky point
  • Tents dot the hillside about 100 miles from the source Tents dot the hillside about 100 miles from the source
  • Rocky point Rocky point
  • Moon on a roll Moon on a roll
  • The first family we saw in the upper section The first family we saw in the upper section
  • Getting the rafts geared up Getting the rafts geared up
  • First night out from basecamp was wet and cold First night out from basecamp was wet and cold
  • We ran into snow storms a number of times We ran into snow storms a number of times
  • Doc Grey tends to David Shippee Doc Grey tends to David Shippee
  • Shippee is lowered Shippee is lowered
  • Map showing grave location Map showing grave location
  • Coasting along near the "golden sands" Coasting along near the "golden sands"
  • River at the top of the world River at the top of the world
  • Tent of prayer flags, about 125 miles from basecamp Tent of prayer flags, about 125 miles from basecamp
  • Cable cart over the river Cable cart over the river
  • Villages came into view as we floated into the winding canyon above Yushu Villages came into view as we floated into the winding canyon above Yushu
  • Drip dry yaks Drip dry yaks
  • Natives from the village lined the banks as we floated down river Natives from the village lined the banks as we floated down river
  • Loggers check their raft, note clear green water entering on the left Loggers check their raft, note clear green water entering on the left
  • Ken compares hand size Ken compares hand size
  • More people run down to the river More people run down to the river
  • and we are offered tea and we are offered tea
  • The Zhimenda Hydrologic Station a tributary to the main river about 2 days above Yushu. The Zhimenda Hydrologic Station a tributary to the main river about 2 days above Yushu.
  • We bought a sheep from this nomad We bought a sheep from this nomad
  • chopped it up chopped it up
  • while his wife watched while his wife watched
  • and ate it a couple or three days in a row and ate it a couple or three days in a row
  • Ken tells Jan about Shippee's death Ken tells Jan about Shippee's death
  • cameras rolling cameras rolling
  • Old Yushu Old Yushu
  • New Yushu (1986) New Yushu (1986)
  • Preparing a dance celebration Preparing a dance celebration
  • Thinking Thinking
  • Inside the monestary, a monk of some rank, perhaps Inside the monestary, a monk of some rank, perhaps
  • Artist at work in the dark Artist at work in the dark
  • Part of a dance performed on an evening in Yushu Part of a dance performed on an evening in Yushu
  • Scene from a play that night Scene from a play that night
  • Young people sang songs as we departed Yushu Young people sang songs as we departed Yushu
  • I got to row a raft and enjoyed the first water big enough to enundate me I got to row a raft and enjoyed the first water big enough to inundate me
  • Hay drying on rooftop racks Hay drying on rooftop racks
  • Getting set for Three Boat Rapid, tied together the 18 foot long rafts make a 24 foot wide craft Getting set for Three Boat Rapid, tied together the 18 foot long rafts make a 24 foot wide craft
  • Hitting the boil over a large rock in the center Hitting the boil over a large rock in the center
  • Made it, now we must get the portaged raft on its way Made it, now we must get the portaged raft on its way
  • Cooking gear Cooking gear
  • Dege has a river running through it on its way to the Yangtze Dege has a river running through it on its way to the Yangtze
  • Dege sawyers Dege sawyers
  • Dege print shop Dege print shop
  • Mani stone carver Mani stone carver
  • A hermit monk lives up on the cliffs in that small white dot A hermit monk lives up on the cliffs in that small white dot
  • Mani stones all carved with the mantra Mani stones all carved with the mantra
  • Camp on the rocks above Four Boat Rapid Camp on the rocks above Four Boat Rapid
  • Four 18 foot rafts in a diamond rig gets ready for a big bit of water Four 18 foot rafts in a diamond rig get ready for a big bit of water
  • Holes made by oarlocks on adjacent rafts Holes made by oarlocks on adjacent rafts
  • The small speck on the left side of Buddha's Hole is Paul Sharpe waiting as we get ready to run the 4 boat rig through The small speck on the rocks on the left side of Buddha's Hole is Paul Sharpe waiting as we get ready to run the 4 boat rig through
  • All our cameras were little used in the biggest water since we had to hang on. All our cameras were little used in the biggest water since we had to hang on.
  • We camped here for 5 days, deciding what to do We camped here for 5 days, deciding what to do
  • In the home of Bama, the man who guided us on the last trip up off the river to his village In the home of Bama, the man who guided us on the last trip up off the river to his village
  • Cooking postss Cooking pots
  • looking back down to Bama's village on our trip overland Looking back down to Bama's village on our trip overland
  • Shangri-La, I was reminded of Ronald Coleman leaving Tibet Shangri-La, I was reminded of Ronald Coleman leaving Tibet
  • One mountain pass was close to 15,000' One mountain pass was close to 15,000'
  • Limestone cave camp in the rain, first night on the overland trek Limestone cave camp in the rain, first night on the overland trek
  • The final group photo, just before we get to Batang and greeted by Ken and Paul, who arrived by other routes The final group photo, just before we get to Batang and were greeted by Ken and Paul, who arrived by other routes
  • Driving from Batang to Kanding and then Chengdu we were slowed while landslides were cleared Driving from Batang to Kanding and then Chengdu we were slowed while landslides were cleared
  • The biggest slide covered a couple hundred feet of road The biggest slide covered a couple hundred feet of road
  • Flood stage stream and another slide Flood stage stream and another slide
  • Kanding street dentist Kanding street dentist
  • Paint test Kanding side street scene