About Coconino County

About Coconino County

Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.

May 26, 2010

Twists And Turns Of Events in Nepal

Hmm, where to start? Well, I'll give you a condensed version of some of the events that have taken place over the course of the past week or so. Some details I do have to leave out, but perhaps I'll be able to write about them in the future. For now, though, with the search for Aubrey Sacco still underway, I have to be really careful what I write.

So, the man from the United Nations, who had been in contact with Ingo prior to this case, had become involved with the search for Aubrey. This man had been assisting by pulling resources together from within Nepal and around the globe, mobilizing  international SAR experts before he even got here. He was on his way, himself. But then a terrible family tragedy occurred which suddenly and understandably changed his plans, and he's out of the picture. At least, for now and probably for a long time to come.

Then there was the international SAR coordinator from the Red Cross, contacted by the man from the U.N., who was coming here to oversee this mission. But she was delayed en route to Nepal, then finally arrived but left the country within 24 hours. That was primarily the result of the Air India crash that occurred, which required her presence. So she too is out of the picture.

A number of international SAR volunteers also came to Nepal on their own dimes, but they have left as well. I never was able to meet or speak to any of them while they were here, because I was not aware of their presence until they'd already gone.

And the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad--the group I came to Nepal to meet and get to know so I could write about them--well, they've all now returned to their base in Shyauli Bazaar, along with the dogs. They'd used up all funds sent by sponsors from abroad to travel to and stay in Kathmandu, waiting to be mobilized. So they've now returned to the place in the jungle where they live and train, where they can be with their families, the other squad members and the rest of the dogs, and have enough to eat from what is grown locally, rather than rely on donations to survive in a city.

So now it's me and Ingo left here in Kathmandu, as well as a young man from Manchester, England, who's been associated with HRDSN for about ten years. (He flew in from London a few days ago.) I hate to say something like, "Oh, you'll have to read the book" to find out more about Nik, but ... well, I'm sure he'll be in the story, along with a number of other key characters in the history, present and future of the squad and other things that will come of Ingo Schnabel's dream, which he put into action more than 20 years ago here in a very, shall we say "challenging" country.

Ingo has met with Aubrey's father, brother and their Nepali-American guide twice in Kathmandu and then went on two helicopter flights with them. During the second flight yesterday, they landed and spoke to locals in the Langtang area of the Himalaya. Having been here for two decades and on many searches in the Langtang National Park, Ingo knows a number of the local villagers, speaks their language (not straight Nepali) and knows their culture well enough to connect with them.

You can watch a short video Ingo filmed during the second helicopter flight on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfuU0tNYcnk.

There are sherpas from a local trekking company involved in this search as well as--at least, to some degree--members of the Nepali army. But what exactly the army's role is, I don't know. Apparently, they are not very communicative, so I've heard.

I need to make something clear: Nepal is a country where skilled Search & Rescue work cannot be done by locals without being paid up front. It is not funded by taxes, grants, and other goverment money like in the U.S. and other much more affluent countries, where volunteer SAR professionals are able to spend their own money to participate and where bills for rescue--if there are to be any at all--can be sent out after the fact. To the contrary, In Nepal SAR work must be funded by the family and friends of the missing person and perhaps fundraising efforts on their part. (See donation information at the end of this post if you're interested in helping with this search.) The Nepalese have NO money to do this as a voluntary effort, and the conditions under which they work--in the highest peaks and jungles in the world--are extreme and often dangerous. These local people--both Nepali and a long-time foreign transplant like Ingo--know the area, are familiar with the terrain, the flaura and fauna and other hazards, and the people, and they really are vital to a mission such as this. 

On another but related note....

Today, I accompanied Ingo, Karna and Nik to see Chokyi Nima Rinpoche (and I've also seen it spelled with an "m"-- Rimpoche--and with an extra "h"--Rimpochhe). Huh? you say. Well, a rinpoche is a lama who is said to be clairvoyant. A psychic if you will. I'm told that they have been through the "cycle of life" and have chosen to return to help people. In addition to traditional search and rescue methods, it is a common practice of Ingo and others to consult with these lamas when searches become particularly difficult, prolonged and confusing. I'm told that the level of accuracy is extremely high, but I have no personal knowledge of these things.

I've honestly never witnessed anything like what I did today. First, we met with a monk, who led us to the rinpoche at Swoyambhu, a large monastary in the middle of Kathmandu, high on a hill. We had to walk to the left of many things on the way. (Good karma, apparently.) We then removed our shoes and entered a small waiting room, where we showed Aubrey Sacco's photo to the monk and provided him with some basic information. He said the rinpoche would need just her name and birth year.

Soon, we were led into another tiny room, and there was the rinpoche, an old man dressed like any other monk. (Ingo later asked me if I noticed his unique ears--ears that only rinpoche have, he said--but, shoot, I was too focused on his face.) In turn, we each crouched down so he could place a red ribbon around our necks, then took a seat on a pad on the floor.

Ingo asked each question in English, which Karna translated in Nepali to the monk. (Ingo speaks Nepali, but nowhere near as well as Karna.) The monk then translated to the rinpoche, who speaks a Tibetan language. The monk would remove three dice from a small container, shake them in his hand, sometimes blow on them, sometimes touch the hand with the dice, eyes closed, to his forehead. He would drop the dice back in the little dish and study them for a long moment and sometimes repeat the process before speaking. He would talk to the monk, and the translations would work in reverse. Sometimes, Karna didn't fully translate back into English, because Ingo had understood the monk's Nepali words.

A rinpoche doesn't always speak in a very direct way, so I understand. For example, if someone is no longer alive, he may say something like, "He cannot see" or "I cannot see her," as if her spirit has left. (That was not said today.) Sometimes a rinpoche may open his eyes and point and say "east" or "west" perhaps.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and then to then compare that to what the rinpoche said. I will let you know.

Anyhow, I wasn't able to photograph the rinpoche (I didn't even ask, actually, but it was clearly inappropriate), but I did take a number of photos today at Swoyambhu. You can see them beginning here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=212279&id=259782534461#!/photo.php?pid=5313432&id=259782534461 (just click "next" in the upper right to go to the next). There are explanations below some of the photos. And, yesh, I took a lot of monkey shots. :)

And here are some other new photos I've uploaded. There are lots more here

FYI: I just found out that The TODAY Show on NBC will be airing an interview with Connie Sacco about Aubrey tomorrow morning.(I believe that means Thursday morning in the U.S., since it's already Thursday morning here in Nepal.) It will air between 7 and 9 am

How to Donate to the Search For Aubrey Sacco.
The funds go directly to the Sacco family, who will administer them:

1. Go to www.PayPal.com
2. Login
3. Click the blue send money tab near the top of the screen
4. Then type in aubreysaccorescuefund@gmail.com in the blank space that says "To (email):"
5. Type in desired amount
6. Click continue
7. Click confirm


Tmaara said...

why didn't you share here what the rimpoche said?

TK said...

Why don't you share what the Rimpoche said??

Deb Kingsbury said...

Hi, Tmaara...

The answer to your question is... Because this is an ongoing search and investigation and, at this time, the Sacco family is "running the show." We passed along that information to them, and, at this point, it's theirs to share or not to share publically and to put any faith in or not. Once the search is concluded, then I'd feel more comfortable writing about the specifics of my own experience, including details of the visit with the rimpoche. I just don't feel it's appropriate to give such details when Aubrey has not been located yet. That could be viewed as "spreading rumors" by some people. I felt comfortable saying we went there but, based on three years of blogging about SAR missions I've been on myself, and knowing what the leaders of my own SAR team feel is appropriate to publish and what isn't, I left that info out.

Hope that makes sense.

TK said...

ahhh, that totally makes sense. I felt frustrated hoping for some info, but now I completely understand. Can you share this personally?
Thank you,

Deb Kingsbury said...

Both Ingo and I sent information to Aubrey's mom. As for me, some of what the rimpoche said was not translated all the way back to English, because Ingo understood the Nepali spoken by the monk. So I definitely didn't get all of it. And later, when I asked what else was said, it seemed like there was more said than what was relayed to me. Unless maybe it takes more words in Tibetan to say the same thing in English.

kayaknepal said...


I do think I can get some Nepali volunteer guides from the trekking agencies to help. Maybe we will have to pay for daily Daal Bhat, but... Who should I contact for SAR? My husband and I own a tour company in KTM and we know lots of local guides and the guide association. It is almost rainy season; I think the more people the better. Let us know how we can help. Here is my email: sandrakrasa@gmail.com