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The Great Outdoors

May 21st, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

This week, Hulu’s documentaries section highlights Into the Tsangpo Gorge. Directed by Scott Lindgren, it follows the filmmaker and six fellow world-class kayakers as they navigate the treacherous waters of the Tsangpo River in Tibet.

Isolated from the rest of the world — the gorge wasn’t explored by Western man until 1913 — this “Everest of Rivers” remained one of the few great adventure prizes left on earth, says Executive Producer Les Guthman. It’s 25 times more powerful than the Colorado, and part of the course was still uncharted territory. While Lindgren had been to the gorge as a filmmaker in 1998, the team also relied on year-old satellite maps to plan their expedition. Unfortunately, as you discover in the film, those maps are eventually rendered useless thanks to a severe flood. “The first time they saw the river, it was a mountain of water. They were like little peas in a stormy sea,” Guthman says.

Hulu spoke to Lindgren by phone to learn more about the journey and its many challenges. As he notes, it was a success for the team to even reach the put-in: It took years to plan the expedition, from obtaining the necessary permits to doing reconnaissance. You can read our interview with Lindgren from the film’s video page here.

We recently featured another adventure film that takes place in the Himalayas. Farther Than the Eye Can See is the story of climber Erik Weihenmayer’s attempt to become the first blind man to summit Mount Everest. “Erik is an amazing athlete, an amazing human being,” says Guthman, who was also Executive Producer on this film. “He lost his sight at 12 or 13 and is now one of the world’s great mountaineers. He continues to do the most challenging climbs in the world. His courage is phenomenal.”

“Farther” is a moving story about the level of trust required for each step Weihenmayer takes, as well the bond of friendship, love and support seen along the way. You can learn more about the expedition from our Q&A with Emmy-winning filmmaker Michael Brown, and stay tuned for another documentary update next week.

Rebecca ()