From Old Colwyn, North Wales to China’s Wilderness, Ash Dykes Is Undertaking His Third World’s First.
THE YANGTZE RIVER IS THE LONGEST TO FLOW THROUGH A SINGLE COUNTRY – known as the ‘Yellow River’ for the murky sediment that is carried along it’s currents. It flows from the Jianggendiru Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau throughout China’s southern reaches and finally spilling out into the East China Sea, extending approximately 6,400 km (4,000 miles). No one has ever walked it’s length from start to finish. World-firsts however, are Ash Dykes’ speciality. Having already completed two world firsts – The first person to solo trek across Mongolia ( while pulling a sledge with all his supplies on) and also traversing Madagascar through it’s interior, scaling it’s eight highest peaks en-route.
NORTHWALESTAGRAM HAS BEEN FOLLOWING Ash’s journey since the beginning of his exploits, his feats thus far have certainly been impressive, but his latest journey is set to be his toughest and most ambitious yet.
He’s survived Heatstroke in Mongolia and Malaria in Madagascar – both experiences brought him within inches of death.
Ash’s training grounds are the mountains of Snowdonia National Park and he can often be seen working on his physique, and fitness on Rhos-on-Sea beach in-between missions as he prepares his body for long distance endurance.
IT MIGHT SEEM AFTER THOSE CHALLENGES, walking along a riverside is going to be a piece of cake, right? – Not so. The challenge has already gotten off to a rocky start – complications with permits, visas and his support team have pushed the challenge back by a few weeks.
“On the way up the mountain I lost my videographers through a combination of altitude sickness and the extreme cold,” says Dykes. “Then, my local guide was doubled over and I checked on him, his nose was bleeding and he was struggling for breath. He’s a local Tibetan, who lives in a village at about 3,500 metres [11,500 feet] [above sea level], but even he had to turn back.”
It wasn’t just the altitude causing issues. “As we were about to cross over from Zadoi County into Golmud, [my local guide] pulled me over and drew the county in the sand and started punching his head, slitting his throat [with his finger] and pointed at me, himself and the horse.
“My local guide was doubled over and I checked on him, his nose was bleeding and he was struggling for breath.”
Ash explains that there is no time limit to this expedition, being a world-first there’s’ no record to break, however the weather is pushing him to get a move on. “In Yushu it drops to -30C [-22F] on a clear blue day, so I want to get away from that as quickly as possible.”
Ash will be stopping at many settlements along the way, immersing himself in the local culture- it’s not all about one man walking an obscenely long distance – that’s the boring bit – it’s about the people and challenges met along the way. These also count for all important pit stops with the opportunity for updating his supplies as he goes. As the Yangtze slithers through a variety of morphing environments, he will need specific equipment for each stage of the journey.
THE TRULY REVOLUTIONARY ASPECT is that Ash constantly updates is progress via social media – as he goes along he writes articles, posts videos, answers live Q&As and posts media content whenever possible. Dykes strives to be fully engaged with those following his progress on social media. Ash’s first biggest milestone was reaching Lijang, Yunnan. In which he saw the first bend of the Yangtze.
Now halfway through the journey It has taken Ash 136 days and 2000 miles of intense trekking across China’s most remote regions to reach the halfway marker of the small Chinese city of Panzhihua. He is getting all kinds of attention from media outlets from all over China – and the world.
It’s well deserved, Ash’s extreme devotion to achieving something which has never been done before is admirable – some of the hardest challenges go on behind the scenes whether it’s networking or raising funds to make this even possible are mammoth achievements in themselves.
The story is by no means over, he still has another 2000 miles of adventuring through Chinese terrain – it’s a great time to jump onboard Ash’s story as he edges ever closer towards his goal, encountering fresh challenges and amazing experiences along the way.
A recent video he posted included himself eating a Pasha Sandworm – alive and raw!
Ash’s Advice for getting into adventuring? Just go for it.
To follow Ash on his journey, follow him here @ash_dykes
You can also follow his journey on his live tracker map here: Ash Dykes Mission Yangtze Live Tracker
Follow @northwalestagram on Instagram for more like this!