DISASTER has struck Limerick’s intrepid adventurer Maghnus Collins on the rising rapids of the Yangtze River in China.
Mr Collins, Corbally, was thrown from his raft on the river after descending through a particularly nasty set of rapids and was forced to watch his raft, containing all of his possessions and passport, wash down the river away from him.
The globe trotting adventurer was completing the final stage of his and Coleraine’s David Burns’ 16,000km ‘Silk Roads to Shanghai’ journey in aid of Self Help Africa, the aid charity founded by Limerick man Ray Jordan.
The three stage unsupported adventure was intended to take the duo from Istanbul to Shanghai, by bicycle, on foot and by raft - the latter a descent down the longest river in Asia, and the third longest in the world, flowing for over 6,000 kilometres.
However, after running 25 marathons in four weeks to get to the source of the Yangtze River in the Himalayas, the pair managed just 1,000km before disaster struck.
“Maghnus came out of a particularly fast rapid, flipped and lost the raft,” explained John Hogan, the duo’s representative in Ireland, who is part of the Sand2Snow team set up to manage the expedition’s logistics.
“They were not attached, it would be too dangerous because of the speed of the water where they are. The raft had his passport, journal entries, tent - every piece of equipment that he had, bar the dry suit on his back. It was all gone.”
The duo, who hope to raise €50,000 for Self Help and are almost half way to that target, were faced with the very real prospect of not finishing the expedition after the incident.
Amazingly, they chased the raft over 100km before eventually deciding to give up, with Maghnus trailing the rugged Chinese river bank and running the risk of encountering wolves and black bears along the way. Finally, they gave up and headed to the nearest town.
“They were a long way from civilisation,” explained John, “and the expedition was hanging in the balance for a few days, they didn’t know if they were going to be able to continue or not.”
“Maghnus said he was floating around in the river one day and there was a black bear about ten metres from him in the water. It wouldn’t be safe to keep walking along the shore with that kind of wildlife there,” he added.
However, the raft’s manufacturers Alpacka are sending a new raft for Maghnus to use and the duo hope to continue in the next two weeks, with 5,000km still ahead of them on the river to Shanghai.
“I spoke to Maghnus yesterday. He is in great form. He was low for a while after it happened, but they are happy now it is going to continue,” added John.
For more information and to donate, go to Sand2SnowAdventures.