The founder of Last Descents, Travis Winn, has been exploring rivers in China since his teen years. A Colorado native, he was raised paddling and guiding the rivers of the desert southwest. He studied Chinese at the University of Oregon and began spending most of his time in China. He has made it his life's work to explore and protect the rivers of Western China, and to bring others to witness these incredible, threatened environments.
Li Weiyi came to find Travis and Last Descents because of a dream. An unshakeable dream of a wild Tibetan landscape, that caused her to leave her corporate job and begin looking for other possibilities. She is at the heart of the Last Descents marketing team, a translator and troubleshooter for guests on the river, and a master of miscellaneous camp chores. She can often be found in small villages along the river, recording oral histories, traditions, and culture. She is married to Travis Winn.
Adam Mills Elliott is a Flagstaff, Arizona native, and third-generation river runner. Adam has spent the better part of his life exploring wild rivers in China and the rest of the world. Adam has worked as an architect, freelance photographer and videographer for clients like Nat Geo TV and NRS. Adam is currently looking for long-term product development work with outdoor gear brands that have operations in the Pacific Northwest and manufacturing in China. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with his wife Susan.
Susan Hollingsworth Elliott has been captivated by rivers since she began to guide rafts in 2001. After completing her bachelor's degree, she promptly began teaching kayaking in the U.S. and Mexico. She finds the individual experience of learning to kayak incredibly transformational for her students. Seeing her students "read" the river's currents, learn to trust in their own ability, and simply go with the flow is her favorite part of kayak instruction. Susan has also integrated science curriculum into river instruction, teaching at a traveling kayaking high school, and is now completing a masters degree in Water Resource Engineering.
Lao Tang is one of Last Descent's founding members. Lao Tang has worked as a lumberjack, a truck driver, owned a restaurant, and is one of only a few Chinese river guides. His diverse skill set is fully utilized at Last Descents, where he guides, helps with logistics, and is head cook. Off the river, Lao Tang spends his free time promoting whitewater sports through his kayaking club and riding his Harley-Davidson.
Jed Tarlow grew up in the mountains of Southwest Montana. He attended 4 universities in 4 years before graduting with a degree in Economics. He hasn't slowed down much since. He splits time between China, the western U.S., and wherever else catches his eye. Rafts, kayaks, motorbikes, and surfboards are some of his favorite tools for exploring fresh landscapes. He comes to the river to return to a simpler state; a nomadic lifestyle filled with strong human connections in powerful, fluxing environments.
Will Stauffer-Norris was born in Moscow, Idaho, raised in Blacksburg, Virginia, and graduated from Colorado College in 2011 with degree in environmental science. Beginning with childhood river trips in Idaho, Will has chased his passion for rivers all over the world, including a source to sea trip on the Colorado River and exploratory kayaking missions in China. He combined his love of wild rivers, visual art, and adventure into a freelance photography and film-making career that has taken him all over the world working for National Geographic, NRS, and Last Descents.
A longtime adventure seeker, Anna Bruno has been traveling the globe in search of whitewater for the past decade. Anna specializes in working with youth in whitewater environments. Anna is competitive kayaker and paddles for Jackson Kayak and Adventure Technology. She currently splits her year between Okere Falls, New Zealand and Canada's Ottawa River Valley, where she runs the famous "Keeners" youth kayak program. Anna loves returning to the Salween River Valley, and looks forward to breakfast noodles and home-cooked meals from her friend Lao Tang.
David Spiegel grew up rafting and kayaking on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest in the United States. He has run rivers in 12 countries, is a contributing editor for Canoe and Kayak Magazine, and spends his summers river guiding in Skjåk, Norway. His interest in filmmaking and photography began while working on environmental conservation projects in the Colorado River Basin and the Rocky Mountains. On the river, David can be found behind the lens of a camera, in a kayak, or playing music around the campfire.