a portion of the authors story is a claim that he was trained in a shangri- la like communty hidden in the mountains of tibet.
here's an article from the chicago tribune
Explorers hit it big: 'If there is a Shangri-la, this is it'
By Michael Kilian
WASHINGTON -- Explorers have finally found Shangri-la.
It may not be quite the storied, verdant, utopian Himalayan paradise of James Hilton's 1933 novel ''Lost Horizon'' and subsequent movie of the
But it is verdant, it is a kind of paradise and it is hidden deep within Tibet's Himalayan Mountains in a monstrously steep, gorge-within-a-gorge.
There is no record of any human visiting, or even seeing, the area before.
Tucked beneath a mountain spur at a sharp bend of the Tsangpo river, where the cliffsides are only 75 yards apart and cast perpetual shadows, the
place failed to show up even on satellite surveillance photographs of the area.
''If there is a Shangri-la, this is it,'' said Rebecca Martin, director of the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Board, which
sponsored the trek. ''This is a pretty startling discovery -- especially in a time when many people are saying, 'What's left to discover?'
Tentatively named by the explorers the ''Hidden Falls of the Tsangpo'' and located in a forbidding region called Pemako that Tibetans consider
highly sacred, the elusive site was reached by American explorers Ian Baker, Ken Storm Jr. and Brian Harvey late last year, though the society did not
make its confirmation of their success official until Thursday.
In addition to a spectacular 100-foot-high waterfall -- long rumored, but until now undocumented -- they found a subtropical garden between a
23,000-foot and a 26,000-foot mountain, at the bottom of a 4,000-foot-high cliff.
According to Martin, it's the world's deepest mountain gorge.
''It's a place teeming with life,'' said Storm in a telephone interview from his office in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville. ''It's a
terribly wild river, with many small waterfalls, heavy rapids and a tremendous current surging through. Yet there are all kinds of flora --
subtropical pine, rhododendrons, craggy fir and hemlock and spruce on the hillsides -- it's lush. Just a tremendous wild garden landscape.''
The animals there include a rare, horned creature called the takin, sacred to Tibetan Buddhists.
Difficult as the gorge was to reach, Storm said one of the hardest aspects of the expedition was leaving to return to civilization.
''The last we saw of it was looking down ... with clouds sealing the gorge and sidestream waterfalls jetting out into the river. It's probably
the most romantic landscape I'd ever seen.''
This was the seventh expedition that Baker, a Tibet scholar living in Katmandu, led into the Himalayas in search of the mythic falls.
In addition to Storm, a book and game dealer turned explorer, and Harvey, a National Geographic photographer, the team included another scholar,
Hamid Sardar, of Cambridge, Mass.; two Tibetan hunters; a Sherpa guide, and eight porters -- though Baker, Storm and Harvey were the only ones to make
the demanding descent to the gorge and falls.
Among other things, their discovery proves that two great rivers of Asia -- the Tsangpo that runs completely across Tibet and the mighty
Brahmaputra that runs through the Indian state of Assam and Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal -- are connected.
Reminiscent of the fabled ''source of the Nile'' that English explorers Richard Burton and John Speke raced each other to find in the middle of
the 19th Century -- both making controversial claims to have found it first -- the Tsangpo falls and gorge proved so far beyond explorers' reach they
were declared nonexistent...
[Edited on 18-12-2003 by slave]
[Edited on 18-12-2003 by slave]