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Pokhara update: International team reaches town at second attempt
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Apr 5, 2005 07: 31 EST
Manuel Lugli reported on the international team finally reaching Pokhara yesterday, according to Planet Mountain. Manuel is climbing Dhaulagiri along Nives Meroi, Romano Benet and Luca Vuerich.

13 hours for 250 km

“It took us two days to reach Pokhara from Katmandu; that’s a real record,” Manuel has reported . “Our first attempt was frustrated barely 10 km away from Kathmandu. We made it at our second try, but only after 13 never-ending hours in a bus, due to army road controls and the Maoists’ blockades.”

Luckily, all team-members are not new to this kind of events, and they all patiently spent the time chatting, reading, sleeping or sharing the experience with thousands of local travelers.

Country heading for disaster

Manuel has also reported on his impressions once in town. “Pokhara is silent,” he reckoned. “Not many tourists to be seen. The hotel’s owner said that the last Maoist ‘bandh’ (strike) has scared many foreigners away. They were afraid of being stranded in the town. The fact is that town is quiet as ever. It’s the local people who pay the toll of the political clash between the king and the rebels. The lack of tourist is leaving many Nepalese without a job, and therefore they are forced to emigrate. The economic situation is leading to disaster.”

”Our next destination is Beni, the starting point of the approaching trek to Dhaulagiri. We expect more delays, but is the price we must pay in out pilgrimage. Not such a big deal actually.”

A group of 18 climbers and trekkers were unable to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu by road last Sunday. Maoists rebels were blocking the roads as a reinforcement measure of the 11 days-long strike they had declared.

Most passengers in the bus were part of an international group of climbers attempting a double-header this spring: Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. Among them is the Italian trio consisting of Nives Meroi, Romano Benet and Luca Vuerich. Some other Italian climbers (Manuel Lugli among them) are joining them for the first stage of their double goal.

Maoist rebels called to a ‘bandh’ (general strike) starting last Saturday. Teams planning on driving through the country are being delayed due to road blocks.

Image of Pokhara courtesy of Visit-Nepal.com

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