Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lonely Planet author missing in China

By DAVID BRAITHWAITE - SMH Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A search has been launched for an Australian travel writer missing for more than a month in a mountainous region of China.
Clem Lindenmayer, a 47-year-old man from Victoria, who has written for the travel guidebook company Lonely Planet, disappeared while hiking near Minya Konka mountain, also known as Gongga Shan.
A contributor to Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum, who was described as a family member, said Mr Lindenmayer was believed missing in the area of Kangding, a city in the Sichuan province in south-west China.
"Clem is a 47-year-old, very fit Australian male with a ready smile," the post by 'Heather' said.
"He is well built, approximately 183cm (6 feet) tall with grey/brown hair, blue eyes, and a short greying beard. He speaks Mandarin, German, Spanish and English.
"Clem is a seasoned traveller with many years trekking experience.
"His last email was sent from Kangding and his intention at that stage was to do a six-day circuit around Mount Gongga.
"If he completed this circuit we would have expected him to be back in contact on or about 10 May, which is now three weeks ago."
A Lonely Planet spokeswoman said Mr Lindenmayer was not on assignment when he went missing, however its staff were aware of the situation and were in touch with his family.
She said he had written for the travel publisher for more than a decade and his last book for the company was Lonely Planet 'Trekking in the Patagonian Andes', published in 2003.
He had also written Lonely Planet 'Walking in Switzerland' and contributed to various country guides.
Sydney resident Michael Woodhead, who is a frequent visitor to the Minya Konka area, said an experienced hiker like Mr Lindenmayer should have had no trouble with the terrain.
He said exposure and altitude sickness could pose problems for people trekking in the sparsely populated region, but a more pressing danger was posed by roaming gangs of bandits.
"There is a danger from roaming bands of guys - it happens very rarely, but you do hear stories of people who disappear," Mr Woodhead said.
"[The local people] all carry guns and knives, it's a tradition in the area - I've been robbed there myself once by a bunch of guys with daggers, and a lot carry rifles.
"When you speak to people in the area they say, 'Don't travel by yourself, there's lots of bad guys around'.
"If you're on the roads things are quite safe, but off the beaten track there's no police - it's a very remote area and you might walk two or three days and not see another person."
However, the editor-in-chief of Hong Kong-based Action Asia magazine, Steve White, said the area's unstable terrain was more likely to be a factor in Mr Lindenmayer's disappearance.
He said the remote region had a lot of unclimbed peaks and did not have the safeguards of more established climbing areas.
"It's a cutting edge destination for adventurers in China.
"It's an amazing-looking peak and people go to climb in the area because they are put off by the circus revolving around places like Mount Everest," he said.
"The world's best mountaineers are heading to these new areas."
Two well-known American climbers, Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff,were reported missing after attempting to climb a nearby mountain late last year. The body of Mr Fowler was found in December.
The Sichuan Mountaineering Association's Gao Min told Xinhua that a search had been launched for Mr Lindenmayer and that his family were travelling to the area.
A notice was also published last Friday to alert locals to Mr Lindenmayer's disappearance, Mr Gao said.
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed the family of an Australian man travelling in southern China were trying to locate him.
Mr Lindenmayer's family had been offered consular assistance to assist with their search, he said.
A mountaineering expedition website says the 7556 metre-high Minya Konka is the highest peak in eastern Tibet.
The "beautiful" mountain was "rugged and rarely visited", the website said.

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