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Two French trekkers go missing in McLeod Ganj

A view of McLeod Ganj with Triund in the background.

View of McLeod Ganj above which Triund, a small table-land at 2900 metres, is seen, on 26 August 2013. A favourite hiking destination for tourists, Triund becomes a difficult hike during the monsoon season.

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 30 August 2013

Two young Frenchmen went missing in the mountains above McLeod Ganj after they decided to climb higher up.

The two are identified as Francois Xavier Camille Daubigeon, 21, and Valentin Marcel Georges Mousset, 20, according to McLeod Ganj police chief Gurbachan Singh.

Francois and Valentin were part of a 38-member group that went for a trek up to Triund, a popular trekker’s destination. It is a small table-land at 2800 metres, nine kilometres from McLeod Ganj. To the north of Triund is the Dhauladhar range, which forms the backdrop of McLeod Ganj.

Their group came to India for volunteering works. The group had volunteered at a school near McLeod Ganj painting the walls. Five among the trekking group were local trekking guides.

The group started on 19 August by going to Gola Mata temple, and then walked up to Triund. The group was scheduled to return on 22 August.

However, that morning at around 5:00am the two men left a message saying they would be going to climb higher up and that they would meet up with the group later in the evening.

Since the two didn’t return, friends reported this to the police on 23 August. A search team of police and local trekkers returned without any information.

Helicopters have been pressed into service since Wednesday. Thick fog and heavy rains have hampered the search operations.

Gurbachan Singh said the Social attache of the French Embassy, Atul Srivastava, came here to take stock of the situation and the ongoing search operations.

Singh said that trekkers should consider the weather conditions before deciding to make a trek and should always opt for a guide, never trek alone, and wear bright coloured clothing particularly orange and yellow.

He said solo trekkers could face any kinds of problems such as losing track, slipping and falling, being attacked by locals.

A solo trekker, Ravi Nibhanpudi (26), an assistant producer working with NDTV channel in New Delhi, was found dead in March this year.

He had gone missing in November last year. His partially-decomposed body was found in a steep gorge on the way to Triund. No foul play was suspected in his death as Nibhanpudi’s camera and wallet had also been found with him. Police believed it to be an accidental death.

The best time for trekking around McLeod Ganj is considered to be from March to June, and October and November.

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