American paraglider’s body recovered from Spiti mountain after 48-hour op

The body of a missing American paraglider, 31-year-old Bockstahler Trevor, has been recovered from a treacherous 14,800-foot height near Kaza in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti district.
American paraglider’s body recovered from Spiti mountain after 48-hour op
Image Credit: X/@ITBP_official

The body of a missing American paraglider, 31-year-old Bockstahler Trevor, has been recovered from a treacherous 14,800-foot height near Kaza in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti district. The recovery operation, led by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), was an arduous 48-hour ordeal, marking one of the most challenging rescue missions for the force.

Trevor, an experienced adventurer with a social media bio that declared "It only seems difficult before you do it," had informed his US-based parents about his planned paragliding jump location before embarking on his trip.

After losing contact with him following his Nepal visit and subsequent arrival in Spiti on June 10, his worried parents contacted the US disaster management authorities and the US embassy on June 13. The ITBP swiftly responded.

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American paraglider’s body recovered from Spiti mountain after 48-hour op

"This was an exceptionally difficult search and rescue operation," said DIG Prem Singh, a seasoned mountaineer who has participated in Mount Everest expeditions. "Unfortunately, the tourist couldn't be reached alive. Our team had to ascend a near-vertical incline of almost 90 degrees at an altitude of 23,000 feet to retrieve the body."

The operation involved a multi-agency effort. Police teams led by the SHO (Station House Officer) and the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army joined forces with the ITBP in the search zone near Tashigang.

A crucial breakthrough came from local villagers who informed the authorities about a parked bike at the mountain's edge for two days, belonging to the missing tourist. Drones deployed by the Army subsequently located a cluster of vultures circling a specific area, leading the rescue teams to believe they had found the accident site.

The 2nd ITBP battalion stationed in Kullu was assigned the critical task of recovering the body. The ascent was a perilous undertaking, with a near-vertical climb requiring specialised equipment to prevent the rescuers from slipping.

The treacherous path involved traversing 1,900 feet of scree and rocky terrain, followed by a challenging 400-foot cliff face demanding exceptional technical skills. The total ascent from the road head at 12,500 feet was a staggering 2,300 feet.

"We explored using helicopters, but the extreme cliff height made it impossible for safe deployment of the teams," explained Harsh Negi, the region's SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate). "The sheer remoteness of the location, 4–5 kilometres away from the main road, necessitated calling in the ITBP's mountaineering specialists."

The rescue mission stretched over several days. After initial scans on June 15, the teams finally reached the body on June 16. However, darkness and the hazardous terrain forced them to postpone the retrieval operation until the following day. On June 17, the body was successfully brought down. A US Embassy team is currently present to complete necessary formalities and facilitate the handover.

The ITBP rescue team was led by Inspector Tenzin (Team Leader and ITBP Mountain Rescue Team member), and comprised Constable Kapil Rana (renowned ITBP mountaineer), Constable Padam Tondup, Constable Sanjay Singh, and Constable Rigzin Namgial. Except for Inspector Tenzin, all the team members belong to the elite ITBP Central Mountaineering Team.

Source: India Today

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