The authorities have sought the army’s help to rescue a Mumbai-based trekker who fell off a cliff in the remote district of Lahaul and Spiti.
The trekker, Richard Joseph Kher, has been trapped in a gorge near the Castle Peak for the past six days as rescue teams are yet to reach him.
“A Colonel has arrived from Palchan in Manali to assess the situation. He will conduct a recce of the area before taking a final decision,” Dr Amit Guleria, sub-divisional magistrate Udaipur told the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
Guleria added that a team of mountaineers from Atal Bihari Institute of mountaineering, Manali, failed to descend the cliff and rescue Kher.
“The rocks are so hard that the mountaineers could not hook the climbing ropes to get down,” Guleria said.
On August 31, an air force chopper conducted a recce of the gorge where Kher is trapped but was unable to send any help to the trekker owing to the rugged terrain.
Kher, who arrived from Mumbai on August 5, left for Udaipur after spending time in the tourist town of Manali. He was accompanied by a non-resident Indian friend, Sunny, and two locals.
Kher fell down the cliff on August 29 and Sunny walked an entire day to Udaipur to seek help and inform the police.
Guleria said the mishap occurred on the Miyar– Jaskal track, which is famous with both domestic and foreign trekkers. He said the site where Kher fell is nearly 30 km ahead of Khanjar, the last inhabited village in Miyar valley.
Kher’s parents – mother Judith and father Brij Kher - are also camping in Udaipur for the past two days, and are anxiously waiting to hear about the latest rescue efforts.
Sunny had told them that he had dropped a blanket and some food for their son.
“Chances of Richard’s survival are bleak, but our hopes are still alive,” Brij Kher said, pained at the “slow response” of the state government.
“I called up the chief secretary’s office many times. But they keep telling me that he is busy. Let us see what the army does now,” Brij added.
Kher’s mother is hopeful but feels helpless. “We are not influential people… we cannot do much,” said Judith.