Skip Navigation

The Sutlej Situation

Rob Howard / Photo : Rob Howard / 25.03.2019

Paddling into Transition 6 on Expedition India

Transition 5 at Expedition India was set up as a tented camp for the many teams expected to arrive and be caught by the dark zone on the following rafting stage.  The timings were right and 9 teams spent at least some of last night there.

The only team to get through and onto the Sutlej River yesterday were Naturex (France), who arrived mid-afternoon, and set off aiming to get to CP18 before nightfall at 18.30, as that is where both the rapids and the dark zone end. It is flat water after there so if they got to that point ahead of time they could carry on and finish the stage.

The bag with their tent wasn’t at the TA, but rather than wait they set off to try and beat the dark zone. With the water level on the river low they didn’t make it so had to spend the night on the riverside but still knew they’d secured their lead.  

Second placed AGDE Raid Aventure got into camp around 18.30, just as darkness fell (so they had 9 hours overnight sleep), and then through the night more teams rolled into camp to find a tent and settle down for the night.  (Rootstock Racing arriving in 12th at 06.30, but they’d slept at a hotel for 3 hours on the long ride, which was a smart move as they had beds to sleep in and could buy food.) 

Things got uncomfortable, in a different way, in the morning as teams got up in the darkness to be ready for a 6.00am start.  They were busy packing their kit and getting into wet suits and pretty much ready to go before being told there would be a delay, initially until 7am.  Then they were told the reason was that the rafts hadn’t arrived, and they’d be called when they were ready!

Most went back to sleep and everyone was frustrated, none more so than the organisers and staff who’d done all they could to ensure the race ran smoothly, but had been let down.  I had a chat to Erik Sanders of the Bend Racing Team and he told me, “It’s not a great situation, but I came for the experience as much as the race ... and I guess this is all part of the India experience.”

While things were being sorted out, Thunderbolt AR got into camp, having regained a lot of places after their navigational problems on the first trek. I asked them what had happened and they said, “We knew we had to walk to a dam ... we just went the wrong way to the wrong dam!”

As there was one raft in camp it was decided to let second placed Agde Raid Aventure set off. They were ready to go and happy to do so.  I caught up with them later in day and Paul Galode told me, “It was a good paddle, but tough work on the flat water at the end. The rapids were good, maybe grade 3 and 4, and the canyon was nice so enjoyed it. Not so much the portage as these rafts are very heavy and it was a steep climb up over rocks, but only really 10 minutes. We had a good guide too.”

All of the teams were guided for the first part of the paddle (to CP18), and had to complete a short portage around a dangerous rapid before this.  At CP18 they put the guide ashore and moved onto the flat water to take them down to Tatopani where the next transition was set up in a smart hotel by the waterside.

The teams stranded back at TA5 had to wait until nearly 09.30 to leave.  It took that long for the boats and guides to arrive and to inflate the rafts, so it was a increasingly frustrating wait.  Eventually as the boats were lined up teams began to cluster round and pick a raft and guide. Having had one experience of a guided raft already, they were more savvy to the importance of this now. Lars Bukkehave, a former international rafter, told me “We have a good guide and this raft has more mass and is well inflated so we are happy with it.”

The teams were then set off at one minute intervals in the order they’d arrived and told they’d be given time credits for the wait.  The more competitive teams were unhappy that Agde had left on time and would have more daylight for the following trek, but during the wait the river had risen with a release of water from the dams above and was flowing much faster.  This meant the chasing pack of teams were much quicker on the descent!  Ironically, Naturex out at the front had the least water.

All of the chasing teams arrived at the finish of the paddle fairly close together and were spread out on the hotel terrace at the riverside for the transition. The Nepali Army team were quickest (but didn’t drop off their guide), and were closely followed by the Abvimas Manali Mountaineering team. A couple of teams arrived with racers sick and Bend Racing were severely affected with both Isla Smith and Lars Bukkehave in a bad way.  Fortunately they could be put to bed in the hotel for a while. 

First to leave on the next trek stage were Endurance Aromon of Spain (now only 73 minutes behind Agde Raid Aventure). All of teams are a bit nervous of this 58km trek which is expected to take over 14 hours for the leaders.  Teams have already experienced overnight trekking using the sketchy Indian maps and know the potential for big navigational errors.

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue reporting on Adventure Racing then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

About The Author

Rob Howard
Rob is Editor of SleepMonsters.com. He's traveled the world reporting on and photographing adventure races and day-to-day he keeps his finger on the pulse of AR to ensure SleepMonsters is the heartbeat of the sport.

More About Expedition India

Expedition India – An Incredible Adventure

Expedition India – An Incredible Adventure
The 2019 Adventure Racing World Series started on a high when Expedition India took place last week in the Himalayan foothills. The race Read More


A Celebration of the Incredible Expedition India

A Celebration of the Incredible Expedition India
Expedition India closed with the race party and prize giving last night after 5 days of extraordinary adventure racing. The party had a Read More


Indian Teams Make Their Mark

Indian Teams Make Their Mark
There have been teams finishing throughout the day here at Expedition India and in the late evening we’ve had a rush of Indian teams Read More


Flying The Flag For Nepal

Flying The Flag For Nepal
The team from the Nepali Army finished Expedition India in 8th place today and they’ve captured the hearts of those on the race and Read More


Thunderbolt and Rootstock

Thunderbolt and Rootstock
Both Thunderbolt AR and Rootstock Racing finished this morning, the Australians taking 6th place and the Americans 7th, both remarkable Read More


France and Spain Take the Podium Places

France and Spain Take the Podium Places
After the early morning finish of the winners there was a considerable wait for the second and third placed teams to cross the line at Koti Read More


Naturex Win Expedition India

Naturex Win Expedition India
Having lead for much of the race, and with a big lead over any chasing teams, Team Naturex of France crossed the finish line at Koti Read More


Taking the Himalayan High Road

Taking the Himalayan High Road
Into day two of the race the field was rapidly spread out as teams completed the first trekking stage, then an additional trek to replace a Read More


Down The Kullu Valley On Day One

Down The Kullu Valley On Day One
Day one of Expedition India served up a full variety of challenges and experiences as teams raced down the Kullu Valley. The start in Read More


Riders of Rohtang - XPD India Gets Underway

Riders of Rohtang - XPD India Gets Underway
Expedition India was never going to deliver an ordinary start, or an easy one, but it was spectacular when teams finally got underway Read More


Flying the Flag For India and Adventure

Flying the Flag For India and Adventure
“Whatever it is, it’s an Adventure!” That was Silver Eensaar’s summary after his team Bend Racing had been through Read More


The Journey to the Beginning

The Journey to the Beginning
The maxim that getting to the start line is the hardest part of the race has never been more true than here at Expedition India.  Read More


A Himalayan Journey and An Indian Adventure

A Himalayan Journey and An Indian Adventure
There can few more iconic and alluring locations for an expedition adventure race than the Himalaya, and in a few days time 26 lucky teams Read More


Expedition India

Support Adventure Racing

SleepMonsters Patreon

Facebook

like us on facebook

Our Patrons

Rootstock Racing

TanzNavigation

SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing

patrons


Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Fiona McBryde

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Barbara Campbell

Klaus Mygind

Marco Ponteri

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton