Trekker Intention Book
Every year a small number of trekkers go missing in the Himalayas. Usually they turn up after a few days having taken the wrong way, or being delayed due to weather or illness. Quite often their friends and relatives do not know that anything is wrong, after all Nepal is a remote country where communications are difficult. The lkast thing most trekkers want is a detailed nine-to-five schedule of where they will be and when they arrive… So a little flexibility, more time spent somewhere or a change of route and arriving a few days late from when you initially planned, is usually no problem. But for the very, very few instances when a person doesn’t turn up and relatives and friends realize that it’s been too long and that they should have heard something by now… where do you start looking?
Searches will usually begin with an examination of the route the trekker planed to take, and if the missing persons name and the date (and intended route?) has been recorded in the lodges where they stayed then much valuable information has already been gained. Even if the trekker did not write their name, the records will give contacts of who else was on the trail at (around ) the same time – people who may remember having seen the missing person, who could at least confirm the missing person was there, and perhaps a little more – how they seemed, if they spoke… as the family and friends of David Koch know, anything to help make their search simpler is important.
For that reason please take a minute to fill in a few details in this book.
The purpose of this book is to minimize the effort that would otherwise be required to search for trekkers in the Khumbu region by being able to quickly trace a person’s movements and to be able to contact those who may have come into contact with them. People who go missing without trace in the mountains are seldom from guided and portered groups.
Who should use this book?.
This book is designed to assist solo or small independent trekker groups and these people should fill out as many details as possible. Large commercial groups need only note the Agency name, leaders name, intentions and party numbers. Further information about individual party members can be got from the agency. Other guided and portered groups should also note enough information so they can be contacted if required.
Instructions for Filling out the book
The email address and correct dates are probably the most important pieces of information. Additional facts, such as if you are trekking alone or with friends and if these friends are people from home (who you know well) or people you met on the trail (with different itineraries) may help us in our search for the missing person.
How will this Information be used
This book is being distributed throughout the kumbu by the Namche and local youth groups in the Khumbu region. The Youth Group will be contacted by e-mail or phone and asked to check the books in the lodges for details of any people reported missing. Photos of the missing people can be e-mailed to Namche and printed out for posting and recognition as well as being emailed to those known to have been in the area at the same time. The Groups may charge a fee for any investigations they carry out.
It is quite possible that people who record their details in this book could be contacted weeks or even months after their trip if someone is looking for information about a missing person.
In April 2004 Donald and I trekked into the Khumbu. We walked in from Jiri and met very few trekkers on the way. Surprisingly deserted. Very much different from what I remembered in 1974 where I stayed in people’s houses on most nights and met new people everyday. We ran into the Mao, heard a bomb go off and witnessed the destruction of social and public services committed in the name of freedom.
At Gorek Shep we first saw a poster of a missing person. It was for Gareth Koch. Gareth was sitting on a rock in a blue down jacket. He looked vulnerable. The poster was not sure of where he was last seen or even where he was going. It could have been me 30 years ago. I thought of my mother’s anguish when I did not communicate for 6 weeks while on my trek back then. She had no information and no idea where to begin. Things have not changed much today. Where do you start looking? Who do you ask? The poster left a mark on us both and solutions were discussed often on the return journey following the same path Gareth is presumed to have taken from Gorak Shep. We scribbled our names or room numbers on scraps of paper as we ate and slept in lodges on our journey.
A thorough search would be next to impossible as there is no real information collected along the way. We only ever wrote down our room number in the lodge for billing purposes.
Like all developing countries the authorities in Nepal have so much to do just keeping the country running. Their resources are stretched to breaking point all of the time.
With the distribution of this trekker Intention Book into the lodges of the khumbu, (and hopefully other regions to follow) it is hoped that trekkers realize they have a responsibility to their loved ones and those they leave at home and will use this book in the manner intended for the benefit of those following.
Donald and I are producing and printing the Trekker Intention Books to be distributed into lodges in the Khumbu region of Nepal by Xmas 2005.