Ladakh River Festival 2018
The highest kayaking competition in the world.
Kayakers from as far afield as the UK, USA and Germany have been making a splash competing in the worlds highest kayaking competition. The Ladakh Kayak Festival was held over two days on the Indus River. The section chosen for the event was on a class 5 rapid named Bollywood Boulevard. The river flows over huge boulders creating 3-meter waves and terrifying hydraulics.
With the competition taking place at a height of over 3350 meters (11,000 ft), oxygen levels were limited causing an additional challenge for the athletes. Foreign competitors in particular were surprised by the impact the conditions had on their breathing. Austrian competitor Simon Kerschner flew in just 3 days before the competition remarked ‘’I can’t breathe that was so tough!’’
There were four parts to the competition; Super Sprint, Extreme Slalom, Boater X and Mass Boater Cross. The Extreme Slalom tested Kayakers strength and technical abilities as they travelled across the river touching key markers. Indian kayaker Daman Singh led the charge with a beautiful display of both power and finesse surfing the huge crashing wave and touching all the markers.
The Mass Boater X treated the audience to a world class spectacle of chaos and excitement. They gazed in amazement as fifty kayakers raced head to head down the enormous rapid. Boats collided and were tossed high into the air, whilst safety teams waited at the bottom to fish out the unlucky swimmers.
The overall winner of the Ladakh Kayak Festival 2018 was Rishikesh Kayaker Ashu Rawat, who was overjoyed with the victory and graciously accepted his prize a brand new American Kayak.
The competition was in its second year and had grown significantly both in statue and fun factor. Event organiser and Rafting company manager Chotak Tsering spoke passionately about his enthusiasm for the event ‘’As a proud Indian and Ladakh its very important for me to get the world media spotlight on the Indus. This river has given myself and so many other Indians work and life changing experiences’’.