Mera Peak Expedition: What, Where and Why with 4 Weeks to Go…

12 03 2013

In April we (myself, Naomi, Tom and Fiona) are heading off to Nepal to Climb Mera Peak. This Blog post is designed to tell you about Mera Peak, what we are likely to expect, why we are going and what are doing leading up to going!

What is Mera Peak?


Mera Peak stands at a whopping 6476m high in the Khumbu region of Nepal. It is regarded as the highest peak in Nepal that requires just basic Glacier Skills in order to get to the summit. It is also regarded as one of the finest viewpoints in the country as from the summit you can see 5 of the world’s 8000m peaks; Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. A great fact page abput the peak can be found here.

Mera1

Why are we going?

Well this is the funny bit, it is technically mine and Naomi’s honeymoon! Back in 2011 I proposed to Naomi in Nepal at an Everest Viewpoint. It was on this trip that we had said it would be amazing to head back to Nepal for the honeymoon and to tackle a big peak at the same time. We got married in July 2012 and opted to put the trip back to the first trekking season of 2013 to allow ourselves the opportunity to save and prepare for the trip. Now I am sure a lot of you are thinking that I have sandbagged Naomi into climbing a mountain on our Honeymoon, a trip which is traditionally restful, but it was actually Naomi’s idea! (so Ner!) You may also be wondering why Tom and Fiona are coming on our Honeymoon. Well for starters Tom was my best man at our wedding, but we also wanted to share this experience with them. We both enjoy the time we spend with them and thought that they would be the perfect people to be sharing this expedition with.

While planning the trip we changed between climbing Mera Peak and another mountain called Island Peak but eventually landed on Mera Peak for the following reasons. Mera is higher by a few hundred metres but is technically easier (which will suit Naomi a bit better). The trek in to Mera will not cover any of the ground we covered on our last expedition whereas walking to Island would, and finally we will be camping! I think Naomi is still getting her head around this, but this gives the whole trip a more satisfying feel, it will feel more like an expedition!

 

The Itinerary

Below is a table outlining our Itinerary. As you can see we will not be reaching the summit until the 11th day (of 16) of our Trek. The trek in allows us plenty of time to acclimatise and more importantly enjoy the fantastic surroundings.

Arrive in Kathmandu
Fly to Lukla then trek to Paiya (2840m/9315ft)
Trek to Pangonma(2870m/9414ft)
Trek to Nigmsa (2550m/8364ft)
Trek to Chetra Khola (2940m/9643ft),
Trek to Kothe(3520m/11546ft)
Rest day in Kothe(3520m/11546ft)
Trek to Thangnak(4120m/13514ft)
Trek to Khare Base Camp(5050m/16564ft)
Rest day for acclimatization(5050m/16564ft)
Climb to High Camp(5730m/18795ft)
Summit Mera then trek back to Khare(6654m/21825ft)
Contingency day (5730m/18795ft)
Trek to Kothe(3520m/11546ft)
Trek to Thuli Kharka(4200m/13776ft)
Trek to Lukla(2840m/9315ft)
Fly to Kathmandu(1300m/4264ft)
Kathmandu

Although there are only 4 of us on the trek we have got a rather large team supporting us. We will lactually have 1 Climbing Guide, about 7 Porters, 1 Cook and a Cook Helper. Because of this we will only be carrying our daypacks and will have our camps established for us by the porters….so there is a degree of luxury to be had on this honeymoon!

What have we been doing to prepare?

I can only really speak for myself and Naomi on this but I am sure Tom and Fiona have been preparing physically in their own ways.
Spending so much time in the hill has got me pretty fit but recently I have been getting out on the Bike and also been on a couple of runs. With 4 weeks to go hopefully I’ll be able to up the tempo to get one last fitness boost.

Naomi used to struggle with getting herself motivated to exercise. I did her head in for a while by banging on about how hard Mera was going to be physically. My main concern was that there will be factors such as Altitude Sickness and not getting enough nutrition trying to stop us from reaching the summit, we can’t allow something like fitness which we can control be the factor that stops us. Since January Naomi has been hammering the Gym attending Spinning and Circuit classes and she is now feeling like she is getting there with her fitness.

I told Naomi last week that we should stop exercising a week before we fly to Nepal in order to give our bodies a chance to rest. Naomi wasn’t best pleased at this as she wants as much time as possible to keep on getting fit. Our aim in this last week is actually to put on a bit of fat in reserve for when we will start to lose it while on the exped. Naomi wasn’t quite so put out when she realised that instead of exercising she could effectively eat as much cake as she liked, for a week! haha

We have of course been preparing our kit for the expedition. We already have most of it so we are sorting out the final few smaller bits of kit that will make our lives that little bit more comfortable.

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My Personal Aim

As well as reaching the summit with Naomi, and seeing the fantastic view I personally have another objective for wanting to reach the summit of Mera Peak. I am using it as a tester to see how I operate above 6000m as hopefully in a few years I will return to Nepal to climb Ama Dablam. Ama Dablam is only a little higher at 6856m, but it is a very serious mountain. What it lacks in height compared to something like Everest, it more than makes up with the skills required to climb it, and it is actually regarded as being technically harder than Everest. This is currently my biggest goal, the top of my bucket list, my number 1, I feel like I just have to climb it and Mera is a stepping stone for me being able to achieve this.

Our Expedition is being run by our international partner Basanta Trekking & Adventures. The expedition is also being supported by Lake District OutdoorBerghaus & EDZ Performance Layering 





Scafell Pike from Seathwaite

12 03 2013

After having a day of learning how to Navigate Steve wanted to put his new found skills to the test by heading up Scafell Pike. The forecast was for clear skies for the most part of the day but a bracing wind which was predicted to possibly bring the temperature down as low as -24 degrees C!

We set off from Seathwaite and the skies were pretty clear and as we reached Styhead Tarn we could see the summit of Scafell Pike which is always a great start. Steve navigated us onto the Corridor Route and it was from this point we hit the snowline. Winter had all but virtually disappeared from the Lakes but a couple of nights of snow and some freezing temperatures had brought it straight back with full force.

We climbed up the Corridor Route dodging the worst of the ice and had a short coffee break below Round How. We rounded the corner and the top of Piers Gill was banked up with loads of fresh snow. For me and Steve it would have been fine to traverse, but a little steep for Lexi. We negotiated the snow bank by getting up the side of it and then across the top of it on the easier angled terrain above. Shortly after this we joined the main track up from Wasdale and the feel of the day had changed completely.

We were suddenly off of the relatively sheltered Corridor Route and now feeling the bracing wind. With this the cloud had dropped, it had started snowing and the fresh snow on the ground was being blown around. We plodded or way up the summit ridge slowly but surely and occasionally we were in complete white-out conditions. So much so I had to put my goggles on to give my self the chance to see where I was going. There was a moment where I couldn’t see Lexi ahead of me, or Steve behind me. I shouted for Lexi in the wind hoping she would have not gone far. As it blew through I realised Lexi was just a couple of metres ahead, and Steve about the same behind, so close and yet I couldn’t see them, it was tough. We continued up through the snow from cairn to cairn, and every time we got a strong gust of wind I would put my glove over Lexi’s eyes to shield them from the snow. Once again I felt like I was taking her into weather she shouldn’t be in, but just as she always is she was as brave as ever and just battled on through.

We reached the summit, and although it didn’t feel like -24 Degrees C up there we didn’t hang around. We had originally planned to head towards Esk Hause across the tops but this would mean we would have about an hour of walking fully exposed to the weather so we opted to head back the same way we had come up.

We quickly descended to Lingmell Col where we finally stopped for a bite to eat. We found some ‘shelter’ to eat our lunch in during which Steve came out with the classic line which was ‘I have eaten my lunch in some conditions, but this is just shit!’. He wasn’t wrong…

On our descent we saw a bit more action from the Sun which was nice, especially as it lit up Great Gable. We got back to the car after about 6 and a half hours, we had well and truly earned the summit today, but at least we got an intense exfoliation while doing so!