A central place to post information on a missing trekker in Nepal
I’ve just launched MissingTrekker.com. It’s still in its infancy but I believe there’s a need for a central place where friends and family members of missing trekkers can get help.
On the site people can post information, photographs, maps and more details about someone that has gone missing while trekking in Nepal.
You can also get guidelines on what to do if someone you know goes missing.
Why is there a need for MissingTrekker.com?
Because, unbelievably, there is nothing else out there.
Most questions I can handle with relative ease. However …
The one question I get asked that chills me is “My son/daughter has gone missing in Nepal, what do I do?”
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does there’s a helpless feeling of desperation and dread from all sides.
I contact trekking agencies I know and get to spreading the word as best I can.
The reality on the ground is that there is very little information out there about missing trekkers in Nepal or what do to, where to go or who to ask for help.
There is no list of missing trekkers in Nepal, past or present
Earlier this year I met Vitaly Bazlov’s family in Kathmandu who were desperately searching for him after he went missing along the Annapurna circuit. One of the biggest problems they had was trying to get information about him, including his photograph, out to as many people as possible.
Just recently I was contacted by a mother worried about her daughter who was overdue from a trek (she was fine). I began writing an article about trekking safety. For this, I wanted a list of missing trekkers for statistics.
I contacted Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). As per usual, there was no answer from them! I do really wonder what they do with all that TIMS card money! (A TIMS Card is a mandatory fee based registration number to ensure the safety and security of trekkers within the general trekking areas of Nepal)
I contacted Nepal Tourism Board who didn’t have a list but did say the Nepal Tourist Police kept one. This, made sense.
I contacted Nepal Tourist Police only to hear nothing back. Then, finally, after more inquiries I got a reply back. They didn’t keep a list.
Keep in mind I had other people out there looking for this list who also turned up blank.
What about a written policy on what to do? Nope.
Personally I found this even more unbelievable as when I discovered nobody had ever properly documented the temples in Nepal.
It’s time for a solution.
What happens to missing trekkers now?
Currently if someone does go “missing” it’s up to friends or family members to raise the alarm. If they are with a trekking company then the company will also raise the alarm.
The first people notified are the Tourist Police, TAAN, Nepal Tourism Board and the missing trekkers embassy.
This group is then meant to co-ordinate a search for the missing trekker. Generally this consists of contacting the trekking agency they were with. Then establishing their last known location (via check points). Contacting teahouses, trekking guides and known people from that area with the missing trekkers details.
If there are funds available then a physical search commences. Helicopter searches run at around USD$10,000. Funding for the search needs to secured, usually from the family of the missing trekker. Most travel insurance companies do not cover search and rescue – they do cover evacuation, injuries, illness e.t.c,. – but not if you’ve gone missing and need search teams to find you.
What else happens?
Friends and family usually post photographs and details of the missing trekker online. Unfortunately there was no central place to do this until MissingTrekker.com.
Good places to post were LonelyPlanet’s Thorntree, Tripadvisor Nepal, Facebook and all social media accounts.
However due to the very random nature of people’s browsing there is no guarantee that someone will see anything about a missing trekker.
Finally, due to funding a search and rescue, many families have recently turned to crowd-funding websites like gofundme.com to raise money for the search.
Does anyone ever get found?
Yes. Last month a lady contacted me about her missing daughter. She was already missing for two days. A long time when out in exposed mountains. Naturally with no contact or not knowing what to do her mother was very upset and worried. The daughter did contact her mother two days later. She had simply turned off her phone to enjoy the last few days of being “off the grid” in the Himalayas – yes it can be that simple, but harrowing for the mother not knowing what to do for two days.
One also needs to take some other things into account when it comes to the definition of “being found”. Even if someone is missing for months and has already been presumed dead it’s still very important that friends and family find their body. Not finding a body is often described as worse than finding one.
On the other side of the spectrum it’s the great outdoors and people do go missing and are never found. Having a place to leave their photograph and description can help weeks, months or even years later if a body is discovered somewhere.
How does MissingTrekker.com solve any of this?
MissingTrekker.com is an informational portal (notice board) about missing trekkers in Nepal. It also provides guidelines on who to contact and their contact details.
It’s important to note that MissingTrekker.com does not carry out any search or rescue. And MissingTrekker.com does not notify any person directly about a missing trekker.
Basically it is a central website that people can use to ask the world for help or information about their missing loved one who went missing while in Nepal trekking. People from across the world, including guides, porters and other trekkers in Nepal can then use it to send information or updates to help or support the family or simply keep an eye for that missing person.
MissingTrekker.com is a completely free service and can be used by anyone either searching for a missing trekker or for those who might have vital information about the missing person.
At the moment MissingTrekker.com still needs some work. But there are some missing people out there that need some help so I’ve launched it.
The only way MissingTrekker.com will be of help to people is if they know it exists and they use it.
If you think MissingTrekker.com is a good thing then I would ask that you visit MissingTrekker.com and share the website around online and offline.
The more people that know about it then the more chances there are that missing friends and loved ones can be found.
Liked this post?
|Never miss a post!
Subscribe to my free newsletter now for weekly updates. (Get my ebook & mobile app for free! )