Cold and Wind Cut Short Pope´s Excursion

He Takes a Ride on a Chairlift for Better View

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 18, 2001 ( Cold and wind obliged the Holy Father to shorten his daily excursion in the mountains on Tuesday.

He left his chalet around 10:30 a.m. and headed for Alpe de Pierrey, in the St. Barthelemy area of the municipality of Nus, which stands 2,300 meters (7,590 feet) above sea level.

In the morning, John Paul II walked for some time, often stopping to enjoy the scenery. After lunch he spent time reading, but the wind grew strong and the temperature dropped, obliging the papal party to return to Les Combes around 5:10 p.m., earlier than anticipated.

Despite the change in schedule, neighbors and tourists were waiting for the Pontiff at the crossing between Introd and Les Combes, where they exchanged greetings and talked for some 10 minutes.

The previous day, about 40 people waited for him at the same crossing in the morning. Their number rose to 500 in the afternoon, for the papal party´s return. Most were students from the Catholic University of Milan, in addition to vacationers. They sang Polish songs and World Youth Days tunes for the Holy Father.

During these holidays, John Paul II has also encouraged the people of Val d´Aosta who were affected by last October´s floods. On Friday, he visited some of the most damaged towns, including Pollein, Fenis, Nus, Donnas, Issim and Gressoney-Saint Jean. In all the towns he prayed for the flood victims.

Late in the morning, the Holy Father went in a chairlift from Gressoney to the top of Beta Forca, some 2,700 meters (8,910 feet) in altitude, where he admired the spectacular scenery, dominated by Mount Rosa. After greeting the employees of the installations, he returned to Val d´Aosta, stopping at a chapel, where he spent the afternoon reading and praying. His 12-day vacation ends Friday.

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