It’s slowly getting more quiet. There are less messages, less ideas for further search. Last week, we came back from Nepal as the last group. All nine friends have returned now, landed at Schiphol airport, without Christiaan. Life goes on.
Unfortunately, at the moment it is too dangerous to continue searching around the Swiss camp/Italian camp. So with a group of Dutch people we decided to stop looking in he area of Beni. In any case, chances that Christiaan has arrived there are very small. The search by Westerners may also backfire. The same questions you ask, they will ask you.
Our presence in Nepal during the last weeks enabled us to create very good contacts with the right people over there. The locals are well aware of the disappearance of Christiaan. If tips come in, we can ask Saron to further investigate. However, we should review all tips we get critically. The amount of $ 500 triggers people to respond, regardless of whether they saw something. If we promised more money, all of Nepal would start calling us.
And what now? Do we keep searching when the monsoon is over in September? Who? How? With what kind of techniques? These are the questions we are considering right now. If you have any ideas that might help us, please let us know through our tips page.
We are meeting each other at the Yak hotel in Beni. Ruben has gone to meet Paul this morning and I expect them to arrive along with two guys from Sardog. John and Ben are coming from Tukuche. They went to the army in Jomsom yesterday and have spent the night at Patrick from Dutch Bakery in Tukuche. They will be arriving shortly as well. For the first time, all five will be in one hotel. I am looking forward to this and can’t wait to hear their stories.
The previous days have been filled mainly with taking small taxis over impossible roads. There are generally three roads crossing the valley. The road from Beni towards Marpha and Jomsom, Marpha is where the trail towards Base camp of the Dhaulagiri starts. The road from Beni towards Tacam, the trail from Base camp via Italian camp back down the mountain runs along part of this road. And the road from Beni towards Pokhara. One can take a bus or airplane to Katmandu from Pokhara, where the international airport is located.
Flyers in hand and with the taxi driver’s help, who spoke some English, we stopped at every house, in every hamlet and at every village.
“This is our friend, he is missing. Have you seen him? Can we leave a flyer here?”
We received all the cooperation the local people had to offer. They listened intently and discussed things among themselves. Sometimes, we were redirected to other people. We were allowed to post flyers nearly everywhere. At hospitals and police stations, at the place where people meet in the village (often a tree) and at tourist checkpoints or in the local buses. Sometimes people would think they recognized Christiaan, giving us hope. Each time, the track led to a dead end…
The situation is known in the valley. Thank you, Karna and his colleagues at Sardog. Thank you, Facebook.
The search in Nepal brought together hope and despair. But in a weird way also a privileged knowing.
Privileged to know Christiaan as a friend.
Privileged to be doing this with so many people.
For that reason, Christiaan!
Christiaan, thank you!
The past few weeks Paul together with a big group of friends searched for Christiaan in Nepal. He wrote the following message after his search.
Dear friends, the feelings I have about being back are mixed. I wanted to bring Chris back to us, to not leave Nepal without him. To bring my good friend back, plan new things with him. But here I am again, without Chris.
Only a small piece of orange helmet gave me the sudden hope that Chris was close. I got scared. Hadn’t I seen Chris with one of those helmets on one of our trips? In the area where he had walked, by the river, on the ice berg, I often felt him so close. But no matter how hard I looked , I never found him. I searched along the river but after the twelfth time I slowly started finding the same plastic scraps, the same candy wrappers and strange stones as the previous times. How could I find all these small useless things but I couldn’t find Chris, his bag, his sleeping bag?
So many scenes played in my mind, I have to get a grip, what’s the most logical? Chris, where have you walked, which choices did you make, which choice would I make? Where could you have slipped, where was there a rockfall, were there any crevices, where could you have landed in the river? From simple to extreme illogical paths entering the valley, we searched. No matter how many times we searched the river, under, next to and past the rocks, I found no further signs of Chris. Even the various teams with which I climbed up didn’t know where to look anymore. Everything between Daulagiri base-camp and Italian base-camp had been searched many times. The whole valley to the road had been walked, all the villages visited…
In that aspect, I feel a little at peace, the luxury of having seen with my own eyes that with so many hands and eyes, at this moment, he could not be found.
Thankfully, most hands and eyes are not back in Holland, but still there. The local residents in the whole area know about Chris. They have promised to call us or the police with any new sign or indication of him. They will be there the following week, month, year and know about our situation in the case that something is found or maybe even if a Chris comes by the village one day.
Without the endless effort and support of our family and friends back home and the financial support we would have never been able to organize a search such as this one in Nepal. Without the local support of Ruben, Felix, Ben, John, Pieter, Sander, Michel, HP, all contacts and organizations in Nepal, I would have never climbed that mountain and there would not be any flyers or info about our Chris in that whole region in Nepal.
I went to Nepal because I know that Chris would have done the exact same for me. That Chris would have forgotten time and expense to find me. It was Chris himself who taught me many things that I unexpectedly turned out needing these past weeks in the search of my good friend.
I am very sad not to have Chris in my arms, but I feel happy and privileged that I was allowed and able to search for him.
I wish everyone, especially Margreet, Pieter and especially Christiaan himself much strength.
For the past few days, we’ve been trying to get Paul back up, back into the area around Swiss camp. This is the place where we have found the piece of Christiaan’s helmet (see image).
Paul arrived on site on Friday and will continue the search today, joined by two porters.
It took quite some effort getting Paul back into the area. At first, the plan was for Paul to start at the same time as the army, but unfortunately the deployment of a special Nepalese army unit is taking longer than expected.
Ruben and Paul went to find out on Friday morning at the Pokhara airfield whether a direct helicopter flight from Pokhara was an option. Fortunately, they were in luck! A helicopter came back from Jomsom, willing to make a stop to pick up Paul and the two porters and carry them to the area. The two porters speak English and were fit. At first, the pilot only wanted to land at Italian camp, but when it became clear that there was insufficient visibility, Paul was dropped off at Swiss camp. The three of them will be able to visit all areas of interest around Swiss camp. We hope to be able to get support in our search from the Nepalese army soon. The army has by now pledged their commitment, but the actual start of the search is taking a while.
Today we’ve received confirmation of the following: Paul found a piece of an orange helmet between Basecamp and Italian Camp, near a riverbed (Petzl Sirocco helmet). This is a fairly new type of helmet that we’re quite certain Christiaan had with him. It’s a tangible clue that could help our search. Paul is on his way down. Tomorrow we’ll focus on how we’re going to continue the search, and a few people will keep studying the satellite images.
Please find more information in the press release.
Press release: Piece found of missing climber Wilson’s helmet