MERA PEAK TREKKING – Direct Approach–
16 Days. Max. Altitude 6,654m.
Fully supported and tented on climb and basic teahouses during approach/return. Flights Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu.
Pre-trek Briefing: HE Office (Kathmandu Guest House) 3 pm on day prior to Day 1. Full attendance necessary for briefing with emphasis on individual equipment check (options for hiring etc).
DAY TO DAY PLAN –
Day 1: Fly to Lukla (45 mins) and trek to Puyan
(O/nt altitude 2,820m/5 hours approx.)
An early morning stunning flight to the gateway to the region of the legendary Sherpas. Start trek to Puyan.
We descend steeply towards the Dudh Koshi (the torrent that thunders from the flanks of Everest), passing an array of travellers and the first encounters with the extraordinary Sherpas carrying gravity defying stacks of goods to markets up in Namche Bazaar. We arrive in Surke after approx. 2hrs then climg steeply up from the far side of the valley to where there are spectacular views both upwards to Cho Oyu and down into the plummeting canyon to the river below. A further 2 hours brings us to our lunch stop. We continue through rhododendron forest that in the pre-monsoon is awash with reds and pinks. The huge Magnolia trees add their large white flowers to the canvas as we enjoy a level walk to our night stop in Puyan.
Day 2 To Pangum.
(O/nt altitude 2,850m/6 hours approx.)
We set off on a gentle 1.5 hour climb to the Khari La pass (2,860m), with today’s destination already visible in the distance as we pass through dense forest with occasional glimpses of the white peaks emerging above the clouds. A gradual hour-long descent to lunch is followed by a steady climb for 2 ½ hours to Pangum. (B)
Day 3 To Ningsow.
(O/nt altitude 3,100m/4 hours approx.)
A short climb brings us to the Pangum La (3,010m) where we cross over into the fabled, awesome and empty Inkhu Valley and we pass through the village of Bhusme (approx. 1hr on), which is the last permanent habitation we shall see. It’s another 3 hour walk to our night stop at Ningsow; just a name and a couple of shepherd’s huts in a forest clearing. (B,L,D)
Day 4 To Chhetra Thanga
(O/nt altitude 3,300m/7 hours approx.)
Today is a long one – climbing and descending the steep and rugged spurs that line the Inkhu Khola valley; the glimpses through the dense forest of the torrent below us are truly dramatic. This is the Himalayan river torrent of steepest descent cutting a jagged incision through this ancient glacial valley while the trail encounters landslides as it clings to the V-shaped valley’s precipitous western edge. The finale to the raw, natural feel of today’s trek is our camp in the only suitable location – a cave under a huge overhanging rock deep in the forest. (B,L,D)
Day 5 To Kothe (Mosom Kharka)
(O/nt altitude 3,691m/5 hours approx.)
A short but steep 500m climb after breakfast offers interesting views; South to the rolling foothills of a few days before, North to Mera Peak itself and our first sight of its dramatic southwest face. The forest is untouched, beautiful, tall pine and moss, lichen and rhododendron creating a peaceful soulful feel during today’s walk as we descend to the upper Inkhu Khola and arrive at a few huts and the summer yak pastures that is Kothe. (B,L,D)
Day 6 To Thangnak
(O/nt altitude 4,200m/4 hours approx.)
The scenery is taking on a very different character now – Peak 43 sits at the head of the valley and to our right in the east and in morning shadow is the dark west face of Mera. At lunch, with Mera as a backdrop, the reality of it all arrives like a doubtful guest - one you are not sure you should have invited! This guest then accompanies us into camp and will be with us for the next seven days. (B,L,D)
Day 7 In Thangnak
(O/nt altitude 4,200m/acclimatisation day walks 4hrs approx.)
This will be our first of three acclimatisation schedules; using the day to hike to near-by glaciers up to 5,000m. (B,L,D)
Day 8 To Khare
(O/nt altitude 4,900m/4 hours approx.)
Our trail to Khare takes us eastwards across the moraine of the Dig Glacier. Though the climb up the moraine is not steep, you will feel the effects of the altitude and it will be a couple hours before we reach open pasture at Dig Kharka. There the trail levels out before crossing a stream and climbing for another hour to Khare. We have trekked in a northerly arc and are now rewarded by stunning views of the north face of Mera. (B,L,D)
Day 9 To Mera La
(5,415m) & back to Khare
Acclimatisation & Kit familiarisation day – 4-5hrs approx.
A second day for acclimatisation. Here we use the moraine and scree slopes of the base of the Mera Glacier to familiarize ourselves with high altitude gear, with safety practices, with climbing techniques. And so we climb – towards the Mera La, our route winding its way between the crevasses on the glacier’s lower eastern flank. After half an hour, the gradient eases and we emerge onto the wide plateau that leads up to the Pass. A further hour’s climbing and we see the prayer flags marking our arrival at the Mera La (5,415m). From here there is the view that clearly shows the step-by-step route to the summit a thousand metres on up. But this is mere rehearsal. In the afternoon, we descend to Khare. (B,L,D)
Day 10 To High Camp (5,800m) – Base Camp
(O/nt Altitude 5,100m/6 hours acclimatisation approx,)
Other expeditions are known to opt to go straight to High Camp from Khare and then attempt the summit the following day. This is a risk we don’t take, preferring instead further acclimatization which can, often does, make the critical difference. So we climb with high altitude support staffs who establish a Base Camp at 5,100m near the foot of the glacier. The summit team then continues the climb and the acclimatisation process – a businesslike ascent in which we have time to take in our surroundings up to what, tomorrow, will be our High Camp. The views of Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Kanchanjunga are what we came here to see – stunning! Today however we then descend to Base Camp for what anyway is our first night above 5,000m. (B,L,D)
Day 11 To High Camp
(O/nt Altitude 5,800m/6 hours approx.)
Following the now familiar route back up the glacier we should find today’s climb easier than yesterday. Our team consists now of the summit party supported by a cook plus any others needed to porter but who will then descend to wait at Khare for our return. Arriving at High Camp mid-afternoon, we spend the rest of the day resting and eating in preparation for a pre-dawn start. Our campsite on the leeside of a rocky outcrop below the glacier is spectacular – a precarious picture truly high Himalayan in its minimal content! (B,L,D)
Day 12 Summit Day (6,461m) then descend to Khare
(10-12 hours approx.)
It’s a shock to the system; emerging from tents around 2 a.m. for the arduous climb to the summit. Navigating up a snow covered mountain under Himalayan star light is a very unworldly feeling. Sunrise means gaining the first of the false summits and a few hours later our goal will be close, with the final test a number of crevasses that line our trail before the gradient steepens dramatically. We rope up and painstakingly ascend the final steep hurdle to the summit of Mera (6,461m).
This last hurdle is certainly a test of stamina and resolve. We have been on our feet for at least 6 hours. The panorama of peaks that greets us will blow all notions of tiredness from our limbs. The view from here has to be one of the finest in the Himalaya. And the people now wondering at it have had to be a team.
But we need to descend; down the Mera Glacier, past High Camp and back down to Khare. It’s been gruelling (did I hear someone say ‘knackering!’). That will pass. So too I suppose will the incredible sense of utter elation. What won’t is the achievement and fulfilment. (B,L,D)
Days 13-16 Trek to Lukla
We retrace the route back to Lukla; the distance seems to fly by. With renewed supplies of red blood cells coursing through veins, and increased oxygen in the atmosphere, we hardly notice the occasional climbs. Before long we have arrived back in Lukla where apple pie and cold beers await. (B,L,D)
(N.B: An extra day is built into the program to allow for adverse weather conditions and acclimatization difficulties.)
Day 17: To Kathmandu
(O/nt Altitude 1,400m/45mins approx.)
Short, spectacular flight back to Kathmandu. Trek ends – own time; relaxing or exploring, shopping or chilling out. Group meets for ‘end of the trek’ celebration dinner. (B,D)
MEAL CODES: (B=breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)