On the 7th October 2011, Boots N Paddles’ staff, Mike and Calum will head off to Nepal to attempt one of its highest trekking peaks; Mera Peak [6476m/ 21,246ft]. In the year of their 40th birthdays (yes, they’re that old!), here was a great excuse to take on this adventure after some lengthy negotiations with our respective and very understanding wives! Thanks for agreeing to let us go ladies!
If you want to find out more about the route, follow our progress or just to see what is involved, read on. There will also be some photos to see when we come back.
Who is the expedition with?
Mike, Calum and a good mate from Australia (Gordon Kirkby) are joining 8 others on a Jagged Globe expedition.
What, where and when?
Day 1 (7th October): Fly London to Kathmandu
Day 2: Arrive Kathmandu
Day 3: Fly to Lukla.
One of the great flights of the Himalaya. If the sky is clear during the flight, you get your first views of Everest. The Twin Otter aircraft takes you to the hillside village of Lukla, which is the start of the trek to Mera. Here you meet camp staff and porters and set off straight away for the first camp at Poyan (2,800m).
Day 4: Pangkongma (2,846m)
After crossing the Poyan Khola, you turn off the main trade route coming up from the south and join an older route, which climbs steeply to the ridge-line overlooking the Khare Khola. Descending the other side of the ridge, you then contour along the hillside before climbing steadily up to the attractive farming and trading village of Pangkongma (2,846m).
Day 5: Nashing Dingma (2,600m)
With fine views westwards towards Takshindu Monastery and Lamjura, you climb through thick rhododendron forest and bamboo leading to the Pangkongma La. On the way up to the Pangkongma La, it is worth detouring via the Pangkongma Monastery for a guided visit. From the pass, you have good views of the south face of Mera with its twin peaks and of its neighbour Naulekh. You then make a scenic descent with beautiful views looking south across the endless foothills rising each side of the Hinku valley. This steep descent leads down to the wire rope bridge that spans the Hinku Khola. A steep, strenuous climb on the opposite side leads to Nashing Dingma (2,600m). Here you stay for the night at the excellent campsite established by the Makalu National Park.
Day 6: Chalem Kharka (3,600m)
Gaining height gradually through pasture and lush greenery, the trail steepens as you climb up to the Surke La. Walking on, eventually, you reach an attractive campsite at a col 1km beyond Chalem Kharka (3,600m), set among fir trees and rhododendron bushes.
Day 7: Chunbu Kharka (4,200m)
Climbing the side of a ridge, you emerge from the last traces of rhododendron and the terrain becomes more rugged. Passing through high grazing country and crossing a small pass, you are treated to some excellent views of Kangchenjunga and Jannu to the east. You continue climbing to Panch Pokari and then on to camp at Chunbu Kharka (4,200m).
Day 8: Rest day at Chunbu Kharka
Today, a well-earned rest day, though for those feeling fit, there is a rewarding walk up to a hanging corrie lake behind the camp. This has good views and helps aid acclimatisation. Today is also a good day for putting in an equipment check session – boots and crampons, harness and knots.
Day 9: Descent into the Hinku Valley
You set off from Chunbu Kharka and climb steeply uphill for 20 minutes or so, before contouring around high above the Hinku Valley, then make a series of steep descents through scree and then rhododendron to eventually arrive on the valley floor, where you cross to the west bank of Hinku River by a wooden bridge at Khote (3,550m). Khote is now quite a large settlement of lodges that have been built over the past 10 years. Camp on a pleasant grassy patch not far from the river.
Day 10: Tangnag (4,360m)
Today, you follow the west bank of the riverbed up the valley to Tangnag (4,360m). A magnificent, towering mountain, known by its survey name of Peak 39 or on some maps, “Kayashar “, dominates the head of the valley. The trail leads steadily up the side of the valley through open pasture, used for the summer grazing of yaks brought up from the lower reaches of the valley. Finally, you reach Tangnag, which has grown into a small hamlet of tea-shops and lodges since expeditions first started to frequent this region of Nepal.
Day 11: Dig Kharka (4,650m)
You now walk towards the mountain as the trail swings to the east, gaining height gradually until you find yourself at Dig Kharka (4,650m), close to the foot of the Hinku Nup Glacier. This is a pleasant, grassy camp in an impressive situation.
Day 12: Khare (5,100m)
Depending on how the team are acclimatising, you can spend another night at Dig Kharka, though normally you would head up to Khare (5,100m) today. From Khare, it is possible to do a glacier session to ensure that everyone is happy with the use of ropes and crampons. The views of Mera from our breakfast table at Khare are particularly stunning.
Day 13: Mera Peak base camp (5,300m)
Today, a climb up to the Mera La (5,400m). This is an exciting day as the climb is onto the Mera Glacier, following it to the pass. This is in a superb high mountain setting and is a worthwhile objective in itself. Base camp is on the far side of the pass, so as to avoid sleeping on ice. The descent from the pass to the campsite is very short and can be done easily using the margin between the moraine and the glacier on its northern side as it descends from the col.
Day 14: Acclimatisation at Mera Peak BC
This is another acclimatisation day (at 5,300m), in final preparation for the climb tomorrow. Not only do you acclimatise further, the day is used to best advantage with another snow and ice training session on the snout of the glacier that descends from the Mera La. This “ecole de glace” provides essential skills training in the use of fixed ropes and abseiling.
Day 15: Move to high camp (5,800m)
Today is the climb to high camp. This is located at about 5,800 metres on the Northern slopes of the upper mountain. It provides an excellent launch pad for the final climb to the summit. There is no need to make an early start but you must get equipment ready so that the Sherpas can help with carrying this and the camp stores to the high camp. Having gained the Mera La, the route turns left (south) and follows easy angled snow slopes. After a short distance an area of crevasses is reached. Under normal conditions these can be walked around very easily, although looking into their deep, dark depths is always impressive. The crevasses soon give way to slightly steeper but open snow slopes that lead without difficulty to the high camp. This camp is in an excellent setting with wonderful views of Everest, Makalu and the Nuptse, Lhotse wall directly ahead. The setting sun casts an unbelievably magic light on these awesome mountains.
Day 16: Mera Peak Ascent (6,476m/21,246ft)
Fingers crossed! The climb to the summit of Mera starts gradually and much will depend on snow and general weather conditions. The central summit will soon appear above the head of a wide glacier flanked by two ridges. You climb the centre of this over open snowfields and avoiding crevasses. The route then swings south-east, skirting below and to the east of the left-hand ridge before turning back rightwards towards the main summit ridge of Mera. Mera actually has three summits; the highest is our objective. We reach this by following a classic snow-ridge to just below the final wall that guards the top. This short steep snow slope is easily climbed but there is a big effort required to climb this last 50 metres. Your reward, however, is a feeling of ecstatic jubilation as you survey the magnificent panorama from the top. After taking pictures and enjoying the view, we descend by the same route back to our campsite below the Mera La.
Day 17: Extra day
This is a spare day to allow for bad weather or for additional summit attempts.
Day 18-21: Return to Lukla
The direct route back to Lukla can be comfortably achieved in 4 days. It crosses the exciting Zatrwa La pass (4,600m) before descending steeply into the Dudh Kosi valley and to Lukla. The pass gives plenty of opportunities for photographing the dramatic peaks around Mera. On arrival in Lukla you can relax, visit tea shops and bars, and prepare for tomorrow’s flight to Kathmandu.
Day 22: Fly to Kathmandu
The hair-raising take-off is followed by a 45 minute flight back to Kathmandu, where you arrive in the morning. Here you will be taken to the familiar Summit Hotel and its welcoming hospitality. The afternoon is free to get cleaned up and take a trip into Kathmandu, before the group’s final evening meal together at one of the restaurants in the city.
Day 23: At leisure in Kathmandu
A day of sightseeing and shopping for presents for the family.
Day 24: Fly Kathmandu to London
Arrive home Sunday 30th October,
Back to work Tuesday 1 Nov.
Start planning next trip – already started!!!!
You can follow our progress (in real time hopefully) by clicking through to a map, which will show our exact locations on an ongoing basis. Using a SPOT Connect (gadget that links to the satellite communication network and your iphone), the hope is that our friends and family will be able to monitor our progress as it happens.
I hope you’ve found this interesting, if you like it why not tell your Facebook friends about it. Remember to look out for some photos on our return.
More information about Mera Peak from the UIAA – click here
Some images of Mera Peak on the Jagged Globe website gallery – click here