Dispatches - Mera Peak 2019 #2

October 13, 2019

During the post-monsoon season of 2019, Adventure Consultants operated an expedition to climb Mera Peak, Nepal’s highest trekking peak at 6,476m/21,246ft.

The Adventure Consultants Mera Peak Expedition operated from September 24–October 14, 2019.

This peak is famous as Nepal's highest trekking peak and is a culturally stimulating journey through remote picturesque villages and forests, followed by a gentle climb to the summit.

24 September 2019 - Kathmandu
It's all go for our small party heading out for an expedition to Nepal's highest trekking peak this post monsoon. Mera Peak is a firm favourite on the trekking calendar, with its lush jungle approach and attainable ascent. And it all starts here in the bustling capital, Kathmandu! Climber Huseyin, Nepal Operations Coordinator, Chhiring Sonam Sherpa, and Trek Leader Nawang Chhongba Sherpa enjoy a welcome dinner together ahead of a day of final preparations and city exploration.

24 Sep #2

26 September 2019 – Lukla to Paiyu
And they’re off! The team had a busy day in Kathmandu yesterday, full of final preparations and drinking in the bustling vibes of the city. Huseyin took time out to visit a local school which is home to recipients of AC’s Sherpa Future Fund, generously gifting warm clothes to the sponsored children ahead of the approaching winter months.

Today was one for the early risers, as the team pulled themselves out of bed in the small hours of the morning to be whisked through the streets of the capital to the airport. The flight out of Kathmandu is always a big transition day, flying above the bustle of the city by helicopter through dramatic scenery to Lukla, the gateway to the Himalayas.

It’s from here that our Mera Peak expedition really begins. The route veers away from the popular Everest Base Camp Trek route towards the small settlement of Paiyu and the first night on the trail. Trek Leader Nawang Chhongba Sherpa has reported back that Huseyin is doing well and feeling good. And the smiles tell the story!

26 Sep #4

There's been internet outages in the valley and some atmospheric cloud, but that's kept the temperatures optimal for hiking and hasn't stopped the photo opportunities! The team have already jumped to 2,750m/9,020ft so they will be taking it easy for the first couple of days and getting used to the altitude—it's only up from here!

27 September 2019 – Paiyu to Panggom
A damp day on the trail as the team continued further along the valley today, but spirits remained high! This jungle section of the expedition adds a lively contrast to the alpine landscapes of the higher elevations ahead.

The team had an 8.30am start and trekked under heavy skies and rain for most of the day. It did, however, make the streams and waterfalls along the way all the more impressive! It was a rather sodden team that arrived into the village of Panggom (2,800m/9,815ft) at around 5.30pm.

27 Sep #4

The village of Panggom is only marginally higher in elevation than Paiyu, which works well for the body as it gets used to the thinner air. Despite the downpours, the team are are doing well and hoping for some clearer skies in the days ahead!

29 September 2019 – Cholem Kharka
The weather is still turning a blind eye to the wishes of our Mera Peak team, with the rain refusing to relent on what is now Day 3 of the trek! Hopefully it's just getting it all out of its system before the team reach the pointy end of the expedition.

From Panggom, the team continued under heavy skies through remote and rarely-visited villages, rising steeply out of the rhododendron forest to cross the Panggom La (3,174m/10,413ft). Normally the pass offers fantastic views both to the north and south, although that might have to be saved for another trip on this occasion... The team then descended back into the forest again on the other side, before negotiating another steep climb up to Najing Dingma (2,820m/9,250ft), where they rested for the night.

29 Sep #2

The following day presented another high pass, the Surke La (3,030m/9,940ft), which took the team firmly into the sub-alpine zone and on to the village of Cholem Kharka (3,550m/11,645ft).

The poor weather has also affected internet connection in the region, but the team have called in to say they are doing well, in good spirits and will enjoy a rest day in Cholem Kharka.

30 September 2019 - Cholem Kharka Rest Day
Finally, the clouds have cleared for the team's rest day, and here's the photo to prove it! Hooray!

Here is Huseyin just outside the Cholem Kharka lodge this morning, drinking in those fabulous views.

Today is a day to relax, acclimatise and get ready for the rigours of the climb ahead, and enjoy that break in the weather!

30 Sep #2

2 October 2019 - Photos!
Now the team have arrived in the village of Khote, Trek Leader Nawang Chhongba has shared some photos from the past couple of days on the trail. And they've had everything!

Below is Huseyin taking in the views outside the lodge in Cholem Kharka on the evening of their rest day—absolutely stunning above the sea of clouds.

2 Oct #2

Unfortunately, the stunning vistas weren't to last and the team had some decidedly soggy weather on the trail from there. But still the smile never wavers!

Sanctuary at the lodge in Khola Kharka!

2 Oct #6

That said, there were moments of stunning weather in amongst a trail that Nawang Chhongba could generally described as "muddy and wet"! There were some incredible moments that open up for some stella photo opportunities. Check out these!

2 Oct #8

2 Oct #10

2 October 2019 - Khola Kharka to Khote
One of the best things about trekking in the remote regions of the planet is the break that we get from modern world! Our team have had this luxury over the past couple of days as they have disconnected from Wi-Fi, which hopefully means they are stacking up some great photos to share when they come back into network.

After their rest day in Cholem Kharka, the team continued up the valley to the village of Khola Kharka. Getting up to 4,200m/13,800ft, the altitude really starts to throw its weight around and you can feel it in the climbs. It's all good preparation for the ascent ahead though and the village itself is situated in an attractive location next to four beautiful alpine lakes not far from the lodge.

Today, the team will be rewarded for yesterday's efforts with a sidling descent through rhododendron forest to the village of Khote, roughly 500m/1,660ft lower in altitude than their previous night's lodge. Their foray over 4,000m and subsequent drop in altitude is a great way to push their bodies to acclimatise, then allow good recovery before continuing on.

The guys should hopefully be able to share some photos again tonight in Khote, but until then, here are a couple of previous AC photos to show just how outstanding this route is!

3 October 2019 - Khote to Tangnag
It was the eighth day on the trail for our Mera Peak Expedition and, finally(!), they were rewarded with a decent spell of good weather.

Although the overall elevation gain of the day was around 700m/2,300ft—not to be sniffed at, especially at these altitudes—the ascent was relatively gradual. The climb was also aided by magnificent views opening up to reveal Mera Peak itself rising ahead (as pictured below, its summit still tantalising swathed in cloud).

3 Oct #2

The trail took the team along the bubbling Ingkhu Khola river, where they rested for lunch in the small settlement of Saure. There was also the opportunity to visit a small gompa set beneath a large rock overhang just south of Tangnag, their end point for the night.

Tonight in Tangnag, they sleep over 4,000m again and this is the last staging post before Mera Peak Base Camp in Khare.

4 October 2019 – Acclimatisation Day in Tangnag
Today was the last acclimatisation day along the trail to Mera Peak Base Camp, and Tangnag is a great location for it. With it’s high elevation (4,250m/13,940ft) and stunning surroundings, the team took advantage of having a fixed base for a couple of nights as they continued their altitude preparation.

4 Oct #2

From the village, the team embarked on a day hike up to 4,830m/15,850ft to a fantastic viewpoint of Kusum Kanguru, one of Nepal’s most challenging trekking peaks.

After a crystal clear start to the morning, cloud soon began to swathe the higher peaks, although the valley remained in sun. Fingers crossed the weather will continue to improve as they enter the final crunch days of the expedition.

4 Oct #6

5 October 2019 – Khare
Departing Tangnag, the team headed up the valley, climbing through moraine and grassy meadows towards Mera Base Camp, located in the small village of Khare at 4,800m/15,750ft. As the team ascended, clear skies allowed some of the climbing route to come into view, now tantalisingly close and looking much more approachable than the south face of the mountain which had previously been in view.

Following the trail along the Ingkhu Kola river, the team paused for a tea break at Dik Kharka as the clouds slowly built throughout the day.

5 Oct #4

The team made good progress to Khare, allowing time for fixed ropes training above the village after lunch, which will be important skills in the next couple of days.

With the summit attempt rapidly approaching, all are doing well and hoping for a good weather window to be heading up!

5 Oct #8

6 October 2019 - High Camp
Jumping on a good weather window, the team have departed from Khare and have called in by satellite phone to say that they have arrived at High Camp on Mera Peak (5,800m/19,000ft), excited and in sound health. They report that the weather on the mountain is currently stunning and they plan to launch their bid for the summit in the early hours of the morning. All the best guys!

7 October 2019 - Mera Update
We've just had word that unfortunately today wasn't the day for our team on Mera. With Huseyin suffering from a headache and snow starting to fall in the early hours, the team made the sensible decision to forgo their summit attempt, banking their achievements to date and heading back down to Base Camp.

With the drop in altitude, Huseyin is already feeling far better again, and the team will be able to enjoy a day relaxing in Khare before continuing down to Khote.

Mera is a big objective and they will be proud of their efforts on the mountain, facing tough weather throughout the expedition. Enjoy your rest day guys!

8 October 2019 - Mera Pics!
Despite the network in the valley not wishing to play nicely, our team have managed to send out some photos of their time on Mera, and check out those views!

8 Oct #2

The team report that they had set out from Base Camp in the village of Khare at 8.30am, reaching High Camp on Mera Peak by 3.15pm.

8 Oct #6

After some noodle soup and tea upon arrival, the team relaxed in camp and prepared for their summit attempt in the early hours. Dinner was tomato soup and dal bhat, a rice and lentil dish that is a staple in this part of the world.

8 Oct #8

The plan was to arise with morning wake-up tea at 1.00am, followed by breakfast and the start of the summit climb at 2.00am. But with altitude tugging at Huseyin, the team decided that the summit was just an added bonus on an expedition already full of rich experiences and there was no need to push beyond there.

And we can't help but agree that High Camp, at 5,800m/19,030ft, was a pretty epic destination.

8 Oct #12

13 October 2019
After some patchy Wi-Fi in the valley, we are happy to have received some great photos of the team's final days in the mountains as they wound their way back to civilisation.

They began by leaving their Base Camp in Khare and heading down to the village of Khote, following the journey of the Ingkhu Khola river through mixed clouds and sunshine.

13 Oct #4

From Khote, the team continued down to the village of Thaktor, enjoying the luxury of a later start, as they only had around 3 hours of trail to cover.

The team still arrived into Thaktor around noon, where they could take a leisurely lunch and enjoy relaxing around the fireplace during a showery evening.

13 Oct #8

Continuing on, the team trail led the team over the dramatic pass of the Zatrwa La (4,600m/15,100ft), just when they thought they had seen the back of the ascents!

Fortunately, the fine weather made for thrilling trekking and some fantastic photo opportunities.

13 Oct #12

After a tea break in Kharke Teng and lunch stop in Chutanga, the team found themselves in Lukla in the late afternoon, safely back where it all began!

Huseyin has now been whisked back to Kathmandu by helicopter, ready for the transition back to the real world, after what we hope has been a magical and unforgettable journey into a stunning part of Nepal.

Thanks for following the adventure!