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Backpacker Magazine – March 2014

Gone Girl

Like many hikers, Aubrey Sacco walked into the Himalayas with joyful excitement. But she encountered a dark side of Nepal all trekkers should know about.

An Army checkpoint en route to Langtang National Park
An Army checkpoint en route to Langtang National Park (Tracy Ross)

After saying goodbye to Renzin and leaving Namaste, Aubrey continued hiking alone, ascending the valley. Here, she may have seen other people—a smattering of trekkers, the ubiquitous porters, Tamang families in trail shoes donated by travelers. The path narrows above Namaste and then crosses the Langtang River on a suspension bridge. From there the track switchbacks up a steep, soft-dirt hillside, where a person could slip and tumble into the churning rapids. But Aubrey didn’t slip, according to witnesses who saw her at another village several hours up the trail. (National parks in Nepal are not empty wilderness areas.) At Lama Hotel—actually a town of a half-dozen teahouses flanked by a vegetable garden, prayer flags, and a tent platform overlooking the deep, shadowy valley—she may have aired her feet, or layered up against the cold air coming off the silver river. Locals later reported seeing her eating a pizza, drinking a Coke, and holding the book Renzin had given her.

In the Sherpa Lodge, according to locals, Aubrey sat down at a long wooden table. Three young men, in their late teens and early 20s, struck up a conversation. At first it was lighthearted. But when Aubrey said that she wanted to continue to the next village, Riverside, the atmosphere allegedly turned sour. It was early afternoon, and the men told Aubrey that Riverside was too far for her to trek to safely so late in the day. But this was Aubrey, who in her journal described herself as a “strong traveling woman.” On the table she’d spread out her map. When the men tried stopping her again, she stood up, pointed up the valley, and said, “Riverside is only an hour from here. Don’t lie to me.” And she left.

The walk from Lama Hotel to Riverside usually takes about two hours for a reasonably fit person. When trekkers reach a teahouse there, they’re encouraged to sign a register. But Aubrey left no signature at Riverside. There’s no evidence she ever made it. Did she decide to go farther? Ghora Tabela, site of an army checkpost, is another two hours beyond (near where the French girls reported being assaulted by soldiers). But Aubrey didn’t sign this mandatory register either. Somewhere between Lama Hotel and Ghora Tabela, she disappeared.

The Saccos learned what had occurred at Lama Hotel from Ramesh BK, a local kayaking guide who questioned villagers in the weeks after Paul’s initial search. When nothing came of the information through official channels, Paul returned to Nepal with Connie and their younger son, Morgan, in July 2011. Again, they trekked up the Langtang Valley. Inside the dim, hazy Sherpa Lodge, the Saccos questioned the owner, the cook, and one of the boys, Tasi Gurung. According to BK, all three had confirmed seeing Aubrey a year earlier. But now their stories changed. The owner and cook claimed never to have seen Aubrey. Tasi Gurung said, “We don’t remember seeing this girl, but if we had known she was going to go missing, we wouldn’t have let her leave.”

When the Saccos tried questioning the cook again, Connie says the owner’s wife screamed, “Don’t answer!”

Paul and Connie felt betrayed. Angry. But mostly, Paul says he felt shock. Who are these people who would intentionally hamper our investigation? he thought. Who would intentionally stop parents from finding their daughter?

Were the villagers lying? Maybe. Maybe they were afraid. It’s possible they remembered an incident from 2000, in which a British trekker was found dead in the Langtang River and the fishermen who reported it were imprisoned for a decade. As a woman searching on behalf of the Saccos told CNN, “All the villagers in the Langtang area say that [the fishermen] didn’t do anything, and that the people who did it were never caught.”

Back in Kathmandu, the police assured the Saccos that they’d re-interviewed the young men, the cook, and Renzin Dorjee. According to a spokesman for the Nepali Army, each soldier at Ghora Tabela was questioned multiple times (including those on leave during Aubrey’s disappearance), and troops searched the area three times between 2010 and 2012. But in the chaos that has defined Nepal’s political situation for years, the Saccos kept learning that their contacts had been fired, jailed, or promoted. Plus, in a developing country like Nepal, police investigations are chronically underfunded.

READ MORE

READERS COMMENTS

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Rishi Pd Nepal
Aug 29, 2014

very interesting information .
Reagrds
Rishi Nepal
www.encountersnepal.com

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Rishi Pd Nepal
Aug 29, 2014

very interesting information .
Reagrds
Rishi Nepal
www.encountersnepal.com

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mingma @ hiking in nepal
Aug 27, 2014

you done great job, life is all about travelling thats enough.
http://www.green-lotus-trekking.com
Mingma

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Everest base camp trek
Aug 15, 2014

Everest Base Camp Trek - 16 Days

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Post Box: 4453 Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Mobile: +977-9841613822
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

Star Star Star Star Star
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
Aug 15, 2014

Everest Base Camp Trek - 16 Days

Everest has always been the desirable name among all the people around the world, mostly the adventure lovers. To reach at an altitude of 8,848m is not an easy task; it requires a lot of hard effort and dedication. It can be the greatest achievement in oneís life, overcoming the fear of the harshness of the nature. Mount Everest
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Nepal Planet Treks (Pvt. Ltd.)
Post Box: 4453 Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Mobile: +977-9841613822
Email-:sanjibtrek@gmail.com

Star Star Star Star Star
Annapurna trekking team
Jun 11, 2014

This is a recommendation specifically for Sanjib Adhikari Independent trekking guide tour Operator based in Kathmandu, Nepal) My partner and I had chosen to trek the Annapurna Circuit for 18 days in Feb end 2014 and as we were new to the region and high altitude in general we were not going to attempt this without a guide. After trawling online forums (including here) for recommendations and requesting recommendations from family and friends back home who do have some experience we posted out requests for information to 3 or 4 of the most promising reviewed individual guides, this included Sanjib Adhikari responded promptly with the most comprehensive and detailed response we received with a background of our kit requirements (Clothes, Equipments and First Aid recommendations), route to be taken what was or was not included in terms of food and accommodation and transport details. We requested some small changes to our itinerary (walking an extra section instead of taking a bus). Sanjib was quite flexible and proposed an alternate plan that did what we wanted. He also highlighted from the beginning that as we had chosen this route in the winter that it may not be possible to complete and that whilst the high pass en route (Thoroung La) was open at the time that if snow fell during our ascent there was some risk that the pass may be closed. During the trek we both found Sanjib to have plenty of experience and familiarity with both the trail conditions and route and had particular preferred Tea Houses in each town. However when these Tea Houses were not available due to closure off season, alternatives were always found and we certainly felt we were staying in good accommodation whilst there was a choice of it lower down. Sanjib consulted us where there were options to press on if we were making good progress or if we felt we needed to stop earlier than planned for a break and he was vigilant with our altitude conditioning on the higher trail. He also outlined the plan for the next day with options depending on progress and each day over 3500 metres included a plan for acclimatization training with side treks, to take us higher and back down to sleeping altitude if this had not already happened during the days trekking (this also meant we saw some other interesting sites, monasteries, viewpoints of glaciers or lakes etc). He was also a good host and shared a wealth of information about the local environment, culture, history, religion, politics and Nepal in general. He was happy to stay with us and chat or play cards after the days trekking was finished and was also happy to head off and chat with the tea house owners or other guides porters so there was no pressure either way. He was very diligent in keeping us topped up with included drinks and making sure we were fed with all we needed to keep us going. This was nice to see as the food was included as part of the package but there was no attempt to scrimp on our food or drinks bills! Sanjib always sorted us first and made sure that breakfast was ordered the night before for a prompt departure the next day. Sanjib is also a nice guide to get on with and speaks good English. The way in which the trekking package was structured with included food and accommodation made our lives a lot easier and more straightforward when things got a little tougher. During our trek we had many comments (compliments) from others both with and without guides that we had been lucky with our choice of guide and after 2 weeks on the road in various conditions including heavy snow I have to agree! We did hit the first snow of the winter the very night before we were due to climb the highest pass and we did attempt to cross the pass before the snow grew too deep. A couple of hours in and with the knowledge of how long we had to go the other side of the pass, Sanjib made the call to turn around and return to our last camp (High Camp). The snow worsened and we were safely backe in camp as it continued through the whole day and essentially snowed us in. Sanjib advised we wait another day to see what the weather does and sure enough, the sky cleared and we partnered up with several small trekking groups and crossed the high pass together in one large party with the guides including Sanjib taking turns to break the snow at the front. We did make it over in the end and we had a very tough and memorable trip with plenty of stories to tell. I would certainly choose Sanjib again for a trek in Nepal and I would recommend that you add him to any list of initial enquiries for a Nepal Trek to compare the responses and prices with others.
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com
Website http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
Mobile+9779841613822
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Independenttrekkinguidenepal?fref=ts

Star Star Star Star Star
Trekking guide rescommnded Nepal
Jun 11, 2014

This is a recommendation specifically for Sanjib Adhikari Independent trekking guide tour Operator based in Kathmandu, Nepal) My partner and I had chosen to trek the Annapurna Circuit for 18 days in Feb end 2014 and as we were new to the region and high altitude in general we were not going to attempt this without a guide. After trawling online forums (including here) for recommendations and requesting recommendations from family and friends back home who do have some experience we posted out requests for information to 3 or 4 of the most promising reviewed individual guides, this included Sanjib Adhikari responded promptly with the most comprehensive and detailed response we received with a background of our kit requirements (Clothes, Equipments and First Aid recommendations), route to be taken what was or was not included in terms of food and accommodation and transport details. We requested some small changes to our itinerary (walking an extra section instead of taking a bus). Sanjib was quite flexible and proposed an alternate plan that did what we wanted. He also highlighted from the beginning that as we had chosen this route in the winter that it may not be possible to complete and that whilst the high pass en route (Thoroung La) was open at the time that if snow fell during our ascent there was some risk that the pass may be closed. During the trek we both found Sanjib to have plenty of experience and familiarity with both the trail conditions and route and had particular preferred Tea Houses in each town. However when these Tea Houses were not available due to closure off season, alternatives were always found and we certainly felt we were staying in good accommodation whilst there was a choice of it lower down. Sanjib consulted us where there were options to press on if we were making good progress or if we felt we needed to stop earlier than planned for a break and he was vigilant with our altitude conditioning on the higher trail. He also outlined the plan for the next day with options depending on progress and each day over 3500 metres included a plan for acclimatization training with side treks, to take us higher and back down to sleeping altitude if this had not already happened during the days trekking (this also meant we saw some other interesting sites, monasteries, viewpoints of glaciers or lakes etc). He was also a good host and shared a wealth of information about the local environment, culture, history, religion, politics and Nepal in general. He was happy to stay with us and chat or play cards after the days trekking was finished and was also happy to head off and chat with the tea house owners or other guides porters so there was no pressure either way. He was very diligent in keeping us topped up with included drinks and making sure we were fed with all we needed to keep us going. This was nice to see as the food was included as part of the package but there was no attempt to scrimp on our food or drinks bills! Sanjib always sorted us first and made sure that breakfast was ordered the night before for a prompt departure the next day. Sanjib is also a nice guide to get on with and speaks good English. The way in which the trekking package was structured with included food and accommodation made our lives a lot easier and more straightforward when things got a little tougher. During our trek we had many comments (compliments) from others both with and without guides that we had been lucky with our choice of guide and after 2 weeks on the road in various conditions including heavy snow I have to agree! We did hit the first snow of the winter the very night before we were due to climb the highest pass and we did attempt to cross the pass before the snow grew too deep. A couple of hours in and with the knowledge of how long we had to go the other side of the pass, Sanjib made the call to turn around and return to our last camp (High Camp). The snow worsened and we were safely backe in camp as it continued through the whole day and essentially snowed us in. Sanjib advised we wait another day to see what the weather does and sure enough, the sky cleared and we partnered up with several small trekking groups and crossed the high pass together in one large party with the guides including Sanjib taking turns to break the snow at the front. We did make it over in the end and we had a very tough and memorable trip with plenty of stories to tell. I would certainly choose Sanjib again for a trek in Nepal and I would recommend that you add him to any list of initial enquiries for a Nepal Trek to compare the responses and prices with others.
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com
Website http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
Mobile+9779841613822
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Independenttrekkinguidenepal?fref=ts

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Elisabeth
Jun 05, 2014

My heart and blessings go out to Audrey's family, may they find peace.
Thank you Tracy for putting your heart and soul in this peace of writing research!
As for trekking in Nepal, which I did with my husband on numerous occasions thirty odd years ago, where we also did the lLangtang trekk. It was already dangerous then!!! And we were warned in Kathmandu to better travel in a group of four!
On our treks we heard different stories of single male and female travellers disappearing in the higher regions and others having been attacked with Kukris, a Nepalese sword, while sleeping in their tent.
I BEG YOU SINGLE TRAVELLER BEWARE, USE YOUR HEAD AND STAY SAFE AND ALIVE !

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Gregory Fowler
May 29, 2014

I was in Nepal a year ago doing a 14 day birthday Trek. I was aware that things can happen, but that's true anywhere you go. Thus year I climbed Mt St Helens in Washington State on my birthday. I saw several posters of a Japanese man who went inexplicably missing while climbing St Helens last year. I'm also reminded of all the other hikers and climbers who are still missing in the Pacific Northwest.

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Old Pest Howard
May 29, 2014

Young folks, seeking adventure, male or female, are at-risk traveling alone. They are often the prey-species for all sorts of mischief. It is prudent to travel with others, even for medical reasons, as in injuries on the trail; and sharing the experience with others increases the enjoyment. Humankind has a personal nature, but also a social nature. All things in life are an exchange: gain something here, but lose something else there. Be prudent, be very careful, maintain a low-profile, and be safe...and return home with lots of pictures and stories.

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nissan gajurel
May 22, 2014

It is great and very hard work .You did it .come in Nepal make Investigation on the case of missing girl four years ago . A great job and thank you very much. gajurelnissan@mail.com.

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Best Trekking guide in Nepal
May 01, 2014

Best Trekking guide in Nepal Sanjib adhikari
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com
http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
Mobile+9779841613822

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Lisa Typpo
Apr 22, 2014

I went trekking in Nepal solo 6 months ago. I must say that I was apprehensive because I had heard about Aubrey's story through researching trekking and took it into consideration before departing for Kathmandu. Such a beautiful country, but so isolated too in many parts... As a solo female traveler, I do feel for her. Bless.

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Trekking in Nepal
Apr 21, 2014

PrevNext1234
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Nepal being the hotspot destination for mountaineers, rock climbers and people seeking adventures, requires the proper information about the suitable time of the year for visits, revenue required etc. Holiday Planner provides the best platform regarding all that there is to know about the treks, tours and holiday destinations to various places situated all over Nepal.


Bhutan is another country which thrives in its tradition and works hard to keep everything intact. Trekking locations in Bhutan too are many and varied and offer spectacular views of its mystical mountains, hills and valleys which cannot cease to amaze the eyes of the observer. Tibet, located along China and Nepal border too is an entity of its own. It has extremely captivating natural beauty and heartwarming ethnic populations. Bhutan and Tibet too are perfect holiday destinations.

The different routes to every destination, the lodging facilities, the time required, the transportation facilities, medical facilities, the most suitable time for visit, the best places to go to etc are extremely vital issues that come to play for a proper touring experience. Holiday Planner incorporates all the required data that might come in handy while on a visit to a certain place in Nepal.

Holiday Planner effectively plans your holidays and provides you with the best knowledge about the doís and doníts of a certain place. It also provides sufficient data about the alternative places within a restricted boundary where you can spend your time and money and get its optimum value from. Plan your holidays with Holiday Planner and obtain the best out of your visits in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

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Email - nepalholidayplanner@hotmail.com

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Don Mogorit
Mar 24, 2014

It is appalling to me that Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd. has used this tragedy to post an ad. They are pathetic, unprofessional, and insulting.
My prayers go out to the Sacco family, and thank you, Tracy, for helping to illuminate this event.

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Trekking in Nepal
Mar 08, 2014

Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd. an indoor outdoor trekking and tours operative company takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable adventure that you have been dream of. Benefit, of course there is the Acute trek part of choice. We have your choose of trekking for 3 days or 30 or more days it depending of your timetable, sleep under lodges or tent. We always respect our duty to constantly your holiday satisfaction in Nepal. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. It is significant to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance in walking in mountains. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come.

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Brenda Fantroy-Johnson
Feb 27, 2014

Going next month with a well known guide group. I'm not that worried. Not really going off track, staying to the regular route. I hope Aubrey returns soon.

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Lee
Feb 23, 2014

These parts of the world are not like run-down gang infested US urban dangerous neighborhoods. The latter are not so romantic and easy to avoid. These other places are beautiful and for the most part the people are genuine, traditional and friendly. However beneath that veneer, there is a kind of lawlessness and danger that comes to the surface with political intrigue, bad boys, and miscreants who prey on young women like Aubrey. I hope that this article results in her returning to her family or at worst, the repatriation of her remains so that her family members can have closure and continue their earthly journey in peace.

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Esy Ray
Feb 23, 2014

What a heart wrenching story. Greeley continues to pray for Aubrey's safe return and for God's strength to sustain all of the Sacco family.

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Sandi Elder
Feb 20, 2014

Great article... I continue to pray with hope for Greeley's daughter to return home to her parents..

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