Bali - Bal Bahadur Lopchan, star guide and organizer

 

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Jamie McGuinness

Summit day on Mera Peak, climbing up the ramp; the summit is unseen however the short difficult section is similar to the top right hand corner - Jamie

Expedition thoughts

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.

Seasons

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.

Leader

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.

Fitness

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.

Gear

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!

To see the detailed itinerary and more photos use a laptop/desktop browser or tablet in landscape (and hit refresh).

Detailed itinerary

I will expand this over time.

Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu - 1350m

Our staff meet you at the airport, Jamie will meet you at the hotel and introduce you to Thamel, if you are not already familiar with the place. We have a trip briefing starting 6pm this evening and head out to dinner together.

2 - Kathmandu

We have a gear check and use this day for additional gear shopping as needed. For the well prepared, you could arrive today instead.

3 - drive Phaplu 2475m, drive/trek Chiwang 2490m

We take a private bus or jeep with our crew to Phaplu, a 8-9 hour drive, then drive or trek a short distance to get beyond the road head to a set of quiet lodges.

4 - drive/trek Taksindu, trek Nunthala 2250m

Depending on the state of the road, we either drive to Taksindu, or trek there. The road is a rough track, OK if dry but muddy and impossible to drive if wet, and instead will mean a three to four hour walk.

5 - trek Kharikhola 2050m via Dudh Kosi 1600m

Looking from Nunthala across the valley, Kharikhola is relatively close, however there is a large valley in-between.

6 - trek Shubuche 2820m via Pangum La 3173m

7 - trek Ramailo Danda 3275m

8 - trek Chetra Khola 3220m

9 - trek Kote 3590m

The tightly clustered lodges of Kote - Jamie

10 - trek Thangnak 4350m

Welcome! - Jamie

11 - rest Thangnak 4350m

12 - trek Khare 4900m

Khare, and the route up out of Khare on the right - Jamie

13 - rest-prepare Khare 4900m

14 - trek-climb Mera La 5400m

The best climbing itinerary is to break up the altitude gains, however it is also possible to go straight to high camp, which many expeditions do. So this is a day we can cut if needed.

15 - climb Mera High Camp 5800m

Mera Peak high camp at 5800m on a snowy morning, the rocky part is behind me - Jamie

16 - summit, return to Khare 4900m

17 - trek Thangnak 4350m / Kote 3590m

18 - trek Thuli Kharka 4300m

19 - trek Lukla 2850m

20 - fly Lukla-Kathmandu

21 - depart

We recommend either a flight time in the afternoon or evening, or allowing an extra day just in case the Kathmandu-Lukla flight is delayed. It is a fine weather flight only.