Lost Trekker in Nepal
Going on a challenging trek may be a good way to test your partner to see if you’re meant for each other, but this Taiwanese couple paid a heavy price to find out. They embarked on a trek near the Ganesh Himal region of Nepal in early March and had not been heard from since 9th March 2017.
On 26th April 2017, a high-altitude search and rescue team found Mr Liang Sheng Yueh in a canyon at around 2,600m near Tipling village in Nepal’s Dhading district, northwest of Kathmandu. The body of his companion, 19-year-old Liu Chen Chun, was lying nearby.
The lost trekker Mr Liang is currently being treated at Grandee International Hospital in Kathmandu and is said to be out of danger. The trekker is said to have lost 30kg since they had gone missing seven weeks ago. His hair was full of lice when he was found, and one foot was covered with maggots. Doctors said he appeared to have survived largely on water and salt.
The Taiwanese couple were last seen in northern Dhading on 9th March 2017. They had gone out trekking despite heavy snowfall and had planned on being self-sufficient on what was supposed to be a 2-week trek. According to some of the couple’s Facebook posts they were experiencing some difficulties prior to their trek with missing luggage and arguments between each other over “trivial matters”. Liu is reported to have written “I wish I had never ended up here”.
The couples’ families believe that the bad weather may have forced them to stay longer than expected in a village on the way to Langtang village but poor telecommunication meant they could not contact home.
The pair’s families became concerned when they failed to call Taiwan as arranged on 10 March, and requested official help to find them five days later. Nepalese police hired three guides and a helicopter to search for the students, who were believed to be travelling to meet Taiwanese friends in Langtang village. A well-supported leisurely commercial trek from Dhading to Syabrubesi in Langtang Valley takes about 2 weeks (itinerary shown below). This trek is sold by some agencies as “unexplored”. You can imagine that it’s nowhere as “built-up” as the Everest trail. The couple’s plans were foolhardy to say the least. I don’t see how they could have carried 2 weeks’ supplies with them. Alone, I could have carried 1 weeks’ supply the most.
Day 1 Dhading besi 900m (end of motorable road) to Lamasthan 1300m
Day 2 Tripura Sundari 850m
Day 3 Ganga Jamuna 950m
Day 4 Lapu Danda 1250m
Day 5 Magne Thati 2950m
Day 6 Lapa Khading 2025m
Day 7 Racyat Gaon 1500m
Day 8 Gomba Danda 2402m
Day 9 Nojet kharka 3690m
Day 10 Thulo Dhunga 3335m
Day 11 Chalishe 1875m
Day 12 Pangsang 3840m
Day 13 Somdang 3270m
Day 14 Ghatlang 2240m
Day 15 Syabrubesi (start of motorable road in Langtang Valley) 1530m
The trip was doomed from the start. According to the Taipei Times, Himalayan travel guides and local news outlets were alerted to the situation, but ongoing snowfall and sporadic avalanches made an extensive search difficult. Madhav Basnet, who was part of the rescue operation, told the BBC the two trekkers appeared to have “slid off a slippery trail while making an ascent towards Ghatlang village (Day 14 above) from Dhading”. It’s believed that they had followed a river downstream when they got lost and ended up descending into a cascading canyon from which they were unable to proceed in any direction. It was a miracle that lost trekker Mr Liang was found alive. If only they had reached Ms Liu 3 days earlier.
Trekking can be done independently in Nepal by budget conscious travellers. Guides and porters are not as cheap as they used to be. The Everest region has overtaken Annapurna as the most crowded region and there are now teahouses every few hundred metres at the lower altitudes. It is virtually impossible to get lost and even if you do, there won’t be any serious consequences as these areas see a lot of human traffic and you will meet someone who can point you in the right direction. It is quite safe to trek alone in these areas. For the less travelled places like Ganesh Himal, it would be foolhardy to go on your own. If you don’t have the budget or expertise, just leave these trails alone.