|Our treks||Expeditions||Contact us||About us||Old photos & Diaries|
Jamie wrote the guide book:
Mera Peak Expedition 6476m/21,246ft
The snow squeaks coldly beneath our crampons, the air is bitingly fresh and the subtle colours of dawn envelope us. Himalayan ice castles crowd the horizon and a dusky valley flanks us. The summit is tantalizingly close but already the sensation is glorious. It is a privilege to experience the full grandeur of the majestic Himalaya, and to be able to say "I did it!".
Our aim is to climb Mera Peak, and we are serious about this, with extra days to explore and acclimatize and to allow for any the unexpected.
Our Mera expedition begins with a flight sweeping across the Himalaya to Lukla. This village is the gateway to the Everest region, a cultural introduction to this famous Sherpa area. We almost immediately leave "civilization" behind begin climbing and gaining altitude. We have two high passes to cross. For all the sweat, the rewards are magnificent panoramas, and these continue every day, with plenty of surprises until we return to Lukla. High in the broad alpine valleys glaciers bulldoze in as grass gives way to rock and ice.
From Hongu Ledge Camp and as well from the summit of Mera, we have one of the most spectacular views seen in the Himalaya. This breathtaking mountain panorama includes in less than five of the world's fourteen eight thousand metre peaks; Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse, Everest and Cho Oyu, a host of mountains over seven thousand metres including Gauri Shankar and Melungtse to the west, Chamlang and Baruntse to the east, and Nuptse and Ama Dablam to the north.
Our itinerary has been carefully planned, allowing maximum time for acclimatization. As a result we have a very high success rate. However don't underestimate how challenging climbing at 6000+m is. Achieve a lifetime ambition, come stand on the summit of a high Himalayan peak with us.
We want to gives ourselves the best shot at the summit we can. This means a sound acclimatization program, not just to beat altitude sickness, but to give us time to gain strength at altitude, a usually neglected factor. Most companies run this climb in only 16 trekking-climbing days, no room for a spot of bad weather or for real acclimatization. We have 19 days, and a greater chance of success.
The Everest region or Khumbu, as it is locally known, is a famous and busy destination for trekkers and climbers and is north of Lukla. In contrast the Mera or Hinku-Hongu valleys are east of Lukla in an isolated region with only a few grazing areas, and no real villages, although it is often busy with climbers. The scale is breath-taking. Magnificent 6500m mountains with sheer faces and splendid summits dominate classic U-shaped valleys 3000m below. Welcome to the real Himalaya!
The higher you go the less air there is. So your body needs time to adjust - time to acclimatize. The guidelines for safe acclimatization are, from 2000m and higher, to sleep approximately 300m higher each night, or climb (in sleeping elevation) approximately 1000m over 4 days. So it is a lengthy process. We take the time.
At 3200m/10,500ft, there is approximately 66% of the oxygen (and nitrogen) compared with sea level, at Khare, 5000m/16,400ft, there is 53%, and at Hongu ledge at 5800m/19,000ft there's 49%, and on the summit at 6476m/21,246ft, there's only 44%! Amazingly enough, your body can cope with this.
We are serious about acclimatization; have a close look at our itinerary and we are taking a portable pressure chamber (PAC bag, similar to a Gamow bag).
This is a demanding trek and so you should be reasonably fit, or know that you can get fit quickly. It isn't possible nor necessary to get truly trekking fit before the trek but over the course of the first seven to ten days you'll be amazed at how your fitness improves.
We recommend that anyone attempting a high and crevassed mountain like this should have done a basic mountaineering course, climbing should never be taken lightly. However it is possible to join if you are familiar with alpine environments and understand the risks that camping and climbing above the snowline pose. Our route on Mera Peak is up mostly moderate but crevassed snow slopes. We have one minor icefall to negotiate, and conditions here vary from year to year. We will use ropes where there is a risk of hidden crevasses. If you have any doubts, please discuss with us.
Mera Peak falls under the trekking peaks system for permits to climb it. Trekking peaks is a misleading term. All these peaks are real mountains and all require real mountaineering techniques for safe climbing. Some of the peaks are, in good conditions, relatively straightforward (ie Mera). However after a heavy snowfall or other unusual conditions they are as merciless as any other mountain on the planet.
Providing you have sent us your arrival details, you will be met at the airport and escorted to the hotel. Normally Jamie will met you there.
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1350m
Arrive in Kathmandu. You’ll be met at the airport by one of our local staff, so look out for a Project Himalaya sign with your name on it. If, for some strange reason, our staff aren't there either contact us or take a taxi to Hotel Dynasty.
Normally your leader meets you at the hotel and then introduces you to Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu.
Thamel is a mass of energy and chaos with a myriad banners, signs, pumping music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels and eccentrically clad backpackers. Over dinner we check your insurance details and equipment – and get to know each other over a beer.
2 - Kathmandu 1350m
Today we’ll explore the sights of Kathmandu and the valley (opens in a new window) with a good local guide. We match the sightseeing itinerary to what people haven't seen before; many trekkers are already familiar with Kathmandu. In the late afternoon we can sort out any equipment that you need.
3 - fly to Lukla trek to Chutenga 3050m
We take the spectacular 50 minute flight to Lukla 2850m. This is a growing Sherpa town with plenty of lodges, and so is a gentle introduction to rural Nepal. The crew have a big job today is organising the loads and the porters. So we lunch in Lukla before trekking to Chutenga, a pleasant camping spot several hours above.
4 - rest day at Chutenga 3050m
We are already above 3000m and so a rest day is necessary to begin acclimatizing. This is a great chance to relax, meet the crew, frisbee or take a walk in the forest. We may move to a slightly higher camp.
5 - trek to Tuli Kharka 4300m
We climb steeply up the Kalo Himal Ridge to a prayer flag-bedecked notch at 4444m then gently climb to the main Zatrwa La 4600m, which separates the Khumbu from the Hinku Valley. Under fresh snow this pass can be quite difficult, especially for the porters. The views across the Dudh Kosi towards Karyolung and the Lumding Himal are impressive, as is the view across the rolling foothills east of the Hinku Valley. Half an hour below the pass is a huge boulder which marks our campsite, Tuli Kharka. It is a tough, long day of 6 to 7 hours walking.
6 - to Kothe 3700m
A short day today, and virtually all downhill. The path descends to a fine vantage point of the Hinku valley, with impressive views of the south face of Mera Peak. Entering the forest once again, the trail drops steeply down into the Hinku valley. The forests of the Hinku valley are a delight to walk through, full of the tall Himalayan pine and rhododendron trees. We make camp by the banks of Hinku Drangka (river) at Kothe. Initially, as we head up the Hinku Valley, there are stunning views of Peak 43 and Kusum Kangguru.
7 - to Thang Nak (Tagnag) 4350m
What mountains! Thang Nak 14,271ft, sits in a wide U-shaped valley, dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. There is a simple settlement here where the crew can restock some supplies.
8 - Thang Nak 4350m
A well-deserved rest day, that will further aid our acclimatization. Options include:
+ a walk to the beautiful lake, the Sabai Tsho, which is hidden behind the Sabai Glacier
+ climbing up onto an out laying peak of Kusum Kanguru, where we can reach an altitude of nearly 5,000 metres
+ eating and relaxing
9 - to Dig Kharka 4720m
It is only a half day walk to the broad basin of Dig Kharka, but we are gaining altitude rapidly.
10 - rest day at Dig Kharka 4720m
This is another acclimatization day, but really it is the chance for some rampant exploring. The valley to the north leads temptingly to the Hinku Nup Glacier, and to classic views of Kang Taiga and other stunning peaks while closer to the camp is a high altitude lake and viewpoint to explore.
11 - to Khare 5025m/16,486ft
Dig Kharka to Khare is only a few hours walk. So while the crew set off to set up camp we have the opportunity of exploring the valley leading to Kangtaiga. At Khare there are numerous sites for the camp, with the most popular being, at upper end of the Khare by a group of boulders. Here the huge north face of Mera and the peaks of the Hinku Shar Glacier dominate. From just above our camp we can clearly see the Mera La.
12 - Khare
A rest and acclimatization day with more exploration opportunities. On the West side of the Hinku Nup Glaciers is a 5500m peak with stunning views of Mera La and Mera Peak. This would make a good objective today. The sherpas may carry loads to the Mera La.
13 - to Mera La 5400m
A 2 hour walk across the rocks and scree leads to the first snow and ice, the tongue of the glacier flowing down from the Mera La. Here we change into plastic boots and crampons as we climb up onto the glaciated terrain which leads to the Mera La (pass).
We will discuss in detail our plan for climbing the mountain, taking into account people's fitness and general conditions. One option is to establish a camp on the cold and windy Mera La. From there we can climb to the summit, or perhaps more likely, we will use this for further acclimatization, then follow tomorrows plan. We will take a limited number of well-equipped crew onto the glacier.
14 - to Hongu Ledge 5800m/19,028ft (high camp)
We establish high camp on the Hongu Ledge, at 5800m/19,028ft. Although this is a short day, we must prepare everything for tomorrow.
15 - Summit - stay Hongu Ledge/Mera La
This is the big day! We attempt the summit. Several false summits finally lead to a view of the central summit, which is climbed from its left side. The view from the summit is one of the best in the entire Himalaya. No less than 5 of the world's fourteen 8,000 metre peaks can be seen.
If all goes well, we will leave at first light and, depending on conditions, return to Hongu Ledge perhaps by lunch time. Then we have the option of staying put (unlikely!) or descending the mountain and seeing how far down we can get today. Some teams have made it as far as Khare on summit day. Descending feels like floating on air.
16 - spare day
A spare day for all those just in cases. Again, with the amount of time we have, if all has gone close to plan, we will be able to walk out at a leisurely pace, perhaps even do some exploring en route.
17 - Khare/Dig Kharka/Thang Nak
Today we should be off the mountain, at Khare at the minimum.
18 - Dupishung/Thang Nak
We cruise down the valley to camp in one of the kharkas.
19 - Tuli Kharka
We ascend through lush forest on the West side of the Hinku Valley, climbing beyond the tree-line to the open alpine meadows and the flat, boulder strewn site that is Tuli Kharka.
From Dupishung there is an alternative pass, the Zatr Teng or Chilli La, 4943m, to Lukla. This is steep and unsuitable for fully-loaded porters, but by taking the minimum of equipment, we could cross it. We will discuss.
20 - Lukla
Today, Lukla. From Tuli Kharka we climb then traverse across a couple of passes before the long descent. We stay in a lodge and there's a hot shower and a cold beer waiting for you!
21 - fly to Kathmandu
We fly by plane to Kathmandu in the morning. Occasionally flights are delayed by bad weather. The hotel has a great laundry service and lots of hot water.
22 - Kathmandu
A free day for washing, shopping and a last look around Kathmandu.
Day 23 - Farewell
We take you to the airport for your flight home. If you wish to stay longer we can offer plenty of suggestions as to what to do.
We hope you had a fantastic holiday!