Nobody's River With Photographer Krystle Wright

Between Russia and China, out to the Pacific Ocean, a team of four girls explore the Amur River.
The women of Nobody's River © Krystle Wright
By Josh Sampiero

Photographer Krystle Wright is no stranger to adventure. The Australian has camped on Baffin Island, paddled serious whitewater, and even survived a paraglide crash. (See picture below!) She's got adventure gear currently stashed in three different countries, and a half-dozen crazy ideas up her sleeve.

Up next? The Nobody's River project, an all-girl-assault of the Amur River. Starting one day's travel north of Ulaanbaatar near the birthplace of Genghis Khan, the 818-km stretch of flowing water travels through Mongolia, along the Russia/China border, and finally out to the Pacific Ocean.

Pictured above are the three Americans she'll be documenting on the trip – Becca Dennis, Sabra Purdy and Amber Valenti – all accomplished boaters in their own right. For Purdy, a watershed ecologist, the purpose of the trip isn't just adventure.

She'll also be documenting ecological data on what is the single longest undammed watershed in the entire Eastern hemisphere. The challenging and ambitious trip has already attracted big support. The team secured a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, a Polartec challenge grant, and support from Eddie Bauer and Keen.

Ben Cossey climbing the Taipan Wall
Ben Cossey Taipan Wall © Krystle Wright

While portions of the river may offer mild whitewater, the biggest obstacle isn't negotiating rapids, but negotiating politics.

"Tricky border crossings from Mongolia into Russia, a big military presence along the Russian-Chinese border, and other political and logistical hurdles make this journey particular complex," states the Nobody's River project website.

Indeed - the women have already planned on portaging a stretch of the river that they've been told would cost them $50,000 in bribe money alone to run. It's just one indication of how remote the Amur is.

Hernan Pitocco wing-over maneuver
Hernan Pitocco mountain landscape © Krystle Wright

For Wright, it's another entry in her rapidly growing diary of outdoor exploration and adventure. Over the past two years, she's fallen through crevasses, cramponed across sheets of ice, tipped over snowmobiles, and oh, yeah — that paragliding crash.

"As we were getting off the ground, the pilot pulled the wrong cord, and all I could see were the boulders. I blacked out on impact," she recalls.

After being hauled off the hill on the stretcher, it took 12 hours to get to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured foot, hematoma in the stomach, bone bruising in the left hip, and tendon damage in the elbow and shoulder, and ten stitches in the forehead.

Has she been paragliding since? Of course. In the end, she's always out there with a goal: "It's all about how much risk you're willing to take to get a shot."

Krystle Wright knows adventure.

So what is Wright looking forward to most about the Nobody's River expedition? For her, that answer is easy. "Two whole months, and virtually no access to e-mail or computers — it's going to be great!" We anxiously await the return.

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