Maoist activity in the spring. Maoists continued to extort funds from climbers. They charged Norbert Joos’s Kangchenjunga six-member group 5,000Rs (roughly $70) per member. Another team, a Georgian and a Russian, on their way to Manaslu, were forced to pay a total of 52,500Rs ($745). This charge was calculated by the rebels at 100Rs per member per day. The climbing permit from the tourism ministry stated that there were seven members on this expedition, and it was valid for 75 days. The fact that there were only two members was of no interest to the Maoists. The Georgian leader, Gia Tortladze, later complained, “There are two governments in Nepal: one in Kathmandu and one run by the Maoists.”
Mountaineers in the Everest region are not bothered by Maoist rebels, but one expedition traveling by road from Kathmandu to the Tibetan side of the range had a bad experience. Rebels had declared highways closed for five days in the area through which the Friendship Highway passes. The trekking agency for a large Russian-led expedition and several other teams arranged for the Royal Nepal Army to escort their convoys of vehicles on April 7, 8, and 9 to the border village, Kodari. They reached there without incident. However the Russian leader, Alexander Abramov, and one of his members, Sergei Kaymachnikov, were delayed leaving Kathmandu on the 9th, so they took a taxi to catch up with the team. Only 25km out of Kathmandu a small bomb was tossed through the open window in the back of the taxi where Kaymachnikov was sitting. Its explosion ripped off his heel, while some of its fragments penetrated the back of the front seat and slightly wounded Abramov. An army helicopter quickly flew the casualties to the military hospital in Kathmandu, where Kaymachnikov was treated until he left for Moscow on the 15th. Abramov drove to the border on the 16th, rejoined his team and climbed to their highest camp, at 8,300m.
To enforce their will, the Maoists also planted land mines at either end of a small bridge a few kilometers south of Kodari. Here an Everest expedition of Australians and a Dutchman, led by Tashi Tenzing, a grandson of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, had to stop on the 13th and wait for three hours until an army bomb disposal squad detonated the mines.
Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal