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Jan 21, 1999 11:34 AM
by Dallas TenBroeck

=Jan 21st 1999

Dear Friends:

An interesting Report from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is sent for you to
read s received from them.


> From: Carol Stroud []
> Sent:	Thursday, January 21, 1999 6:08 AM
> Subject:

January 19, 1999

Wm. Dallas Tenbroeck

Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society.
The following is a news release on Tsangpo Falls.  We are
preparing an
article and television film on the expedition, but it will be
quite some time before either is ready.
For release at noon EST Thursday, Jan. 7, 1999
WASHINGTON-Explorers who have returned from the last unexplored
section of the Tsangpo Gorge in southern Tibet report discovery
of a 100-foot-high waterfall that had been the source of myth and
speculation for more than a century.
The waterfall was discovered in a legendary unexplored five-mile
gap in the Upper Tsangpo Gorge, the world's deepest canyon, which
arches around the easternmost Himalaya Mountains. The waterfall
had been legend since the 19th century and was last sought in
1924 by British botanist Francis Kingdon-Ward, who concluded it
probably did not exist.
After descending the extremely steep, rugged slope that leads
down to the falls and then rappelling the last 80 feet, the
expedition reached the waterfall the afternoon of Nov. 8. The
team used a laser range-finder and clinometer to determine its
height -- 100 to 115 feet --  which they believe to be the
largest on a major Himalayan river. They named it Hidden Falls.
The expedition, sponsored by the National Geographic Society's
Expeditions Council, was led by American writer and scholar Ian
Baker and included Ken Storm Jr. of Minneapolis, Hamid Sardar of
Cambridge, Mass., and several local assistants. Videographer
Bryan Harvey accompanied the team for National Geographic
"It's very exciting to find the waterfall of myth to be real,"
said Baker,
who led seven previous expeditions in the Tsangpo Gorge region.
assumed the story of a great falls on the Tsangpo was just
romance. But
it's here and larger than we had ever imagined
Team member Ken Storm, on his fifth expedition to the region, had
been a doubter. "I didn't believe in the waterfall; I thought
reports from the past were right-that it probably didn't exist,"
he said. "It shows that even if you're told something isn't
there, you have to keep looking."
The Tsangpo River leaves the Tibetan Plateau and passes between
two great Himalayan peaks more than 23,000 feet high, finally
emerging in India as the mighty Brahmaputra River. The unexplored
section of the gorge has long inspired both Tibetan pilgrims and
Western armchair explorers. The region lies downstream from
Rainbow Falls, the farthest point reached by Kingdon-Ward nearly
75 years ago, in what had been considered an impenetrable
Only in the last few years has China allowed explorers to enter
the area. A team attempting to kayak the length of the Tsangpo
Gorge met with tragedy in November when one of its members was
pulled into a series of rapids and was lost.
Earlier expeditions helped Baker and others establish that the
Tsangpo's innermost gorge is less an inaccessible maze of cliffs
and jungle than one of the world's best kept geographical
secrets. For hundreds of years the Monpa hunters who inhabit the
lower Tsangpo valley have guarded the area from outsiders. For
them it is both a place of pilgrimage and a sacred hunting
ground; in spring and fall the hunters descend precipitous trails
into the deepest section of the gorge, performing Buddhist rites
as they pursue their prey-a rare, horned animal called the takin
that is considered sacred by local Tibetans.
Monpa hunters guided the team into the innermost gorge in pursuit
of an answer to the century-old riddle of the falls' existence.

C.L. Stroud
Research Correspondence

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