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Original Issue

Under Review

"You've got to be a little crazy, a little obsessed, to plunge into rivers like these," the narrator says in Expeditions to the Edge: Rampaging River (National Geographic Channel, Nov. 30, 8 p.m.). Indeed. Tibet's Tsangpo River makes the Colorado River look like a babbling brook. The Tsangpo comes roaring out of the Himalayas, churning 50,000 cubic feet of water per second, with waves that reach 20 feet. At least that's how it was when four kayakers, supervised by Wick Walker, a former Army Special Forces officer, set off down the 140-mile-long gorge. Not all will survive, we are told at the outset of Expeditions, and the ensuing suspense--plus spectacular scenery, interviews and recreations of horrendous spills into the savage waters--propels the one-hour program. Very little goes as planned on the trip: Water levels reach "epic proportions"; topographical maps show gradual descents that turn out to be monstrous drops; one man wipes out and loses his kayak, only to find days later that it's been rescued by herders who would like to be paid for their troubles. Forty-pound kayaks loaded down with 100 pounds of gear become increasingly difficult to maneuver, and as one of the kayakers acknowledges, his words both ominous and prescient, "Any small slip of control could mean a fatality." --Nancy Ramsey