Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Water gushes down a river as Indian paramilitary soldiers stand near a temporary bridge after it was damaged as stranded pilgrims wait to be evacuated on the other side in Govindghat, India, Saturday, June 22, 2013. Soldiers were working to evacuate tens of thousands of people still stranded Saturday in northern India where nearly 600 people have been killed in monsoon flooding and landslides. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Salt Lake City men evacuated from India monsoon floods
Travel » Group was trekking through northwestern India when torrential rains struck.
First Published Jun 24 2013 03:33 pm • Last Updated Jun 29 2013 08:50 pm

Two Salt Lake City men trekking through remote villages in northern India helped stranded residents there seek safety among the region’s worst flooding in 80 years, said Edwin Wall, one of the men’s fathers, on Monday.

Utah natives Alex Wall and Bowen Humphreys, both 22, were high in the mountains in Uttarakhand state when torrential rains struck recently. The resulting flooding and landslides have killed perhaps a thousand people and stranded many more, according to Indian reports.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Alex Wall’s group was on its last leg of a trek through the remote Himalayan villages when the monsoon struck. Roads and bridges were washed out and the Indian government declared a national crisis.

An email Alex Wall sent his parents Friday detailed the group’s tracks through the mountains, and eventually to safety:

"We began hiking back to Milam, hoping to remain there until the government managed to fix the bridges. On the way, not two kilometers north of Toling, where the bridge crossing the river to Rilkot […] had also been destroyed. There was another bridge upstream that we tried to repair, but the logs we fetched, though about twenty feet long, couldn’t reach the other side."

The men, both of whom have extensive wilderness and outdoor medicine training, were hiking the more than 10 miles from Rilkot to Milam, more storms on the way, when they were found by an Indo-Tibetan Border Police troops that had been dispatched to rescue the group of Americans, Alex Wall wrote.

"Basically, we got an army escort back to Milam, got fed and sheltered, and were able to exit the following day via [Indian Air Force] helicopter."

The Salt Lake families said Monday they aren’t nervous when their sons are trekking the perilous regions. The men were rescued, but Ed Wall made clear they were trained for the situation. Humphreys is an Eagle Scout, and Alex Wall took a Himalayan backpacking course with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) three years ago.

"Because he was prepared, he ended up in a situation where he was not in trouble, but rather made intelligent and competent moves and was able to assist" in helping the villagers, the father said. "They bring with them years of not only outdoor experience, but years of developing leadership techniques and wilderness techniques."

Indian media have reported food, water and medicine shortages, with The Hawk newspaper saying the army had evacuated thousands of residents after landslides and mass flooding ravaged the area.

story continues below
story continues below

Uttarakhand is home to 10.1 million people, and authorities expect the death toll in the monsoon-struck region to rise after the weather clears and searches continue.

Two others on the India trip, Eddie Simon from Minneapolis, and Max Kaniger from Kansas City, also have experience with NOLS.


Twitter: TaylorWAnderson

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.