There are a lot more choices and decisions to make that might first appear when planning a Mera Peak expedition. We go through the options here.
The trek start alternatives
First, the trek start. For a Mera Peak expedition you can start in Lukla and then take the shortest route via the Chetra La (Zatrawa La) however there is a real and significant risk of altitude sickness; this route is not recommended, even with an extra day's acclimatization. Even two days extra are not really enough, and then the length of trip becomes similar to the next option.
The more popular alternative is to fly to Lukla and trek around via Pangum, which is a good route. However, there is a small risk of flight delays (fine weather flights only). The new route that we take is a day longer and meets the popular route part way through, but without delay risks. All that said, we can arrange as you need.
How many days?
DON'T pick the shortest Mera Peak itinerary. A quicker itinerary may have appeal for a shorter holiday however a well planned itinerary significantly increases your chance of success, and significantly decreases the risk of altitude sickness, and of emergency evacuation. It was clear talking with trekkers and climbers in 2016 that the short itineraries didn't work well, and that few people really understood the trade-offs when planning their trip. Our itinerary is planned with acclimatization in mind, and is the shortest safe itinerary for altitude, although you will find shorter on the internet.
We recommend adding another day to the itinerary to allow for bad weather, sickness and relaxing, after all this is your holiday. This would make it a 22 day holiday, or instead if you are familiar with Nepal and would rather arrive in Kathmandu one day and leave the next, then that would give an extra trek day too.
Teahouse-lodge trekking vs camping
Years ago all Mera expeditions were camping treks, and that was a good, pleasant way of running the expedition. However, now there are lodges everywhere and these make the expedition cheaper, and we use this way (although can arrange a full camping trip; ask). The lodges are more basic than the Everest and Annapurna regions as they are open for a shorter season, however, they are suitable for trekking groups.
For the climb of the mountain, there are no lodges and so we take camping gear from Khare (the last lodge village) and camp at the Mera La and Mera High Camp. We provide foam mats, however you should bring a Thermrest or similar as well.
Which trekking peak?
Island Peak and Lobuche Peak are near Everest Base Camp, however are a little bit more technical than Mera Peak.
Although the start and end of Mera Peak is the same as Everest treks, it is in a different area and visiting Everest Base Camp means crossing another mountaineering pass, making a roughly 26 day trip.
The weather is considered marginally better from around mid-October through November, however this is balanced by the crowds, lodges are packed, whereas in March into May, there are sometimes afternoon showers, which are not normally too troublesome. The risk of more major snowfalls is about the same in either season.
A good leader makes an expedition so much better. Bali is a great local leader with two decades of experience, and brings lots of energy too, but without being bossy. For the climbing section we take local climbing guide from Khare in addition to Bali.
If the private trip is planned will in advance, Jamie plans to meet the team in Kathmandu and help send you off with the best preparation.
You need to be relatively fit. The trek is very real with plenty of hills to climb and descend, and the trail from Shibuche to Kote is a tough trail with occasional exposed sections. Overall, the trails from Salleri to Kote are demanding, as is the return section from Kote to Lukla. The Kote to Khare section is more moderate, a chance to recover.
It is critical to bring the right gear. Trekking boots must be light but study and handle wet or snowy conditions. For the mountaineering section, you need warm mountaineering boots, and the warmer they are, the less chance of having to turn back on a cold day because of cold feet. Boots can be rented in Kathmandu or at Khare (ie the base of the mountain), as well as crampons, ice ax and harness set.
We also rent out some gear, and we will send you a sheet on what we have.
If you do have your own gear then it is better to bring your own. Do discuss!