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Jamie wrote the guide book:
Mera Peak 6476m
Here are a series of pictures useful to people intending to climb Mera Peak.
2013 update: There are now lodges at every place up to and including Khare. These are useful but plan carefully during the peak October and November season as lodges will completely fill.
Jamie wrote "Trekking in the Everest Region" (currently in its 5th edition) and runs Project Himalaya, this site.
I would also recommend my friend Mark Horrell's Mera Peak discussion.
Why is this picture useful? Read on! Day two of the trek and picture of us, 4 'members' and the core crew: sirdar (top: main guide), one sherpa (general helper), 3 kitchen boy-sherpas, one "stove boy" and our cook. Nice small team? Hang on, none of the porters are here, and we had 14 of them to start with. Moral: an expedition involves a lot of people!
Our porters may have been pint-sized, but they were tough and strong. Since it was a winter high altitude trek the trekking company provided the red pants and the lined rain jackets for them. Only a few companies do this.
The core crew cooked our meals, and meals for themselves on kerosene stoves. The porters cooked for themselves with supplies they carried themselves. This is standard practice BUT in high altitude or National Park areas the company must provide kerosene and a stove for them to cook with. Most companies DON'T do this, instead the porters cook on wood (usually dead) or at high altitude either carry wood up or more usually tear up juniper and other ecologically fragile items. Ask a trekking company what their policy is, and if it is sound, ensure they stick to it!
Most teams plan an acclimatization day at Thangnak. There are several side trips possible. If you climb the hill behind (the hill in the left of the Thangnak picture above) this is what you see - the stupendous West face of Mera. This face has been climbed! Acclimatizing sensibly is extremely important. If you feel good, attempt a side trip. If you don't feel so good, staying put and relaxing is best. Drinking copious amounts of fluids - especially water - aids acclimatization, do read about Diamox and also have Ibuprofen and Paracetemol handy for headaches.
Looking south from the Mera La towards the summit. The distant point between two humps isn't the central summit, but it is close to this. The true summit is accessed from near the central summit. The route is not visible here.
An often talked about obstacle is the last section to the central summit - here. This is steep enough that most people feel more comfortable with a 50m section of rope fixed. The central summit is by far the most commonly climbed summit. The west summit is marginally high and another half kilometre away, beyond most people at this stage.
From the summit no less than five of the world's 14 8000m mountains are visible. The panorama is superb, one of the best in the Himalaya. Even from high camp the view is fantastic, reward enough in case you don't make the summit.
Pasang, myself and Lhakpa made it to the summit. Al, Peter and Rob didn't make it partly because we attempted the summit from the Mera La since it was felt bad weather might be moving in, a very long climb. It didn't. On our second attempt only I summitted. The success rate, despite the assurances local and overseas companies give, is somewhere less than 50%. With a fast itinerary (ie not enough time for acclimatization), less than 75% of climbers even make it above Khare, 5000m.
And looking south...
Heading down, taken from 20 minutes below high camp. Curving left is the route to Khare. Going down feels like you are floating on air! From the summit most teams plan to descend to Khare, which is a long tough day, but at least you should sleep OK at the lower altitude.