Pro Team - Darren (Daz) Clarkson

Darren (Daz) Clarkson
Paddling over 35 years
Countless 1st descents across the Himalayas.
For some people each river morphs into the next, but not for me. I can still remember lines and rapids on rivers from decades ago. I remember putting on the Naltar in Pakistan 20 years ago. A fast, narrow, rock filled ditch. A world of difference from the throbbing swollen Braldu we did a week earlier. We had scouted the Naltar from the jeep as much as possible, but often we couldn't see and just had to hope. We only caught one eddy that day on a blind bend. It was good class 4, and the rapids were manageable. Fast forward and a few years later I found myself in Tibet ticking off first descents willy nilly, looking at old Russian maps on dusty tables in the tea shops of Lhasa and tracing the thin blue lines with my finger. We had a solid crew of six paddlers - must be about 14 first descents we made that season.

Over the years I realised my solo adventures offer the solitude we often lose in the modern world. I rarely take pictures, never really do movies. Solo trips on the rivers of Everest, solo descents on the upper Indus , Tsarap, Zanskar and more in north India. Nepal was my second home for a decade and I lost count of how many rivers I did solo. My first trip to Bhutan I managed fun solo jaunts on the rivers around Punakha, not first descents but that didn't matter, the clear blue water still felt virginal and fresh. Not long after I took a film crew on a first descent - that show is constantly played on TV and I really should have asked for more money haha. We shouldn't forget the jungle rivers in south India where we first explored the rapids now named after old friends. None of this really matters without knowing where my first paddler strokes came. This was in the Scouts. The rivers of the industrial north (of England), my playground as I surfed the weirs and tried to keep my mouth shut to avoid the pollution. I'm still proud to be an ambassador for Scouting. I'm still proud of those early foundations.

Whilst on expedition I've been known to live the mantra of the Yorkshireman, short arms and deep pockets - a master of the frugal arts - to extreme levels. It's obvious that I've slept on countless river banks. Pure luxury when put against the shop doorways, drainage pipes or tied to a bus roof as it trundles across the Terai. I can counter that by spending a number of nights in a royal palace but that doesn't do the image any good...

Went paddling, slept in a ditch, never went home.


WW Kayak


United Kingdom


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