Mera Peak (6654m - 21,825ft), Nepal, Himalayas
Bill, Martin, Drew, John, David Liam and myself (Alan) left Heathrow at 9:00 p.m. on Sept 30th bound for Kathmandu and the summit of Mera Peak at 6654m.
After an 18 hour flight we were treated to a Nepalese feast as it was festival time and then had a sightseeing trip around the city visiting a couple of temples and a cremation site which was being used when we were there ! !.
The 45 minute flight from Kathmandu up to Lukla at 9000ft is a fabulous trip with spectacular views of the Himalayas including Everest. In Lukla camping gear was collected and porters hired for the trip, a crew of 29 in all plus four guides just to get 7 of us to the top.
From Lukla we walked for 5 days through rain forest / jungle slowly gaining a little height each day. We did encounter some interesting sights, snakes (did not bite), wasps (did sting), landslips which were interesting to cross and numerous river crossings. All of which involved a great deal of up and down to a maximum of 4100m even though we only averaged around 3 to 4 miles a day horizontal distance.
Camping in the rain forest was not a problem and the food was excellent though the camp rule of no alcohol above 3000m did raise an eyebrow or two. We celebrated Martin's 40th birthday in the jungle with a meal of spaghetti & apple pie and the cook made him a birthday cake. We also discovered why it is called a rain forest as we all got very very wet in a storm that last for about 3 hours
Day 3 also brought good news for Bill as finally his bag caught up with him having been left behind in Kathmandu.
Day 5 sees us clearing the rain forest and having an easy day walking along the Inku river to Kothe at an altitude of 3600m. Here the views become even more spectacular with peaks ranging up to 7000m in view.
From Kothe it was just onwards and upwards as we gained more height each day until we reached a place called Khare at 4900m. This is just a collection of maybe 12 huts and a bit of flat land to pitch tents but makes a good place to rest and buy a bottle of coke. We stayed here for a couple of days to acclimatise which involved walking beyond base camp to 5250m and playing in the snow for a day.
Duly rested and fed and watered we then left for the short walk to base camp. From here we walked onto the Mera La glacier for skills practice which involved ascending very steep slopes using fixed ropes and prussic loops which we will need to summit. Great fun had by all. Our tutor and climbing guide called Lakpa summitted Everest in 2003 so we knew we were in good hands.
It was then back to base camp to prepare for the walk to high camp tomorrow at 5800m. This was a fantastic walk across the Mera La glacier with views to Makalu and Everest just in case boredom set in.
High camp was just 5 tents pitched on snow and tied together to ensure we did not blow away as the wind was howling around.
I was concerned that the summit attempt may be called off due to high winds but a 2:00a.m. wake up call with lemon tea and noodle soup got us out of warm cosy sleeping bags and by 4:00 we were departing for the summit in pitch dark.
We had a climb of 800m to go, roped together in two groups just in case we came across a crevasse and on the way we were treated to a fabulous light show by Mother Nature with an electrical storm, fortunately many miles to the East.
The sunrise was another memorable sight and then in the distance our target came into view which reenergized us all. Arriving below the peak at 8:30 we had made very good time now all that was left was to rope up and climb the 45 degree slope to the top which we achieved by 9:00.
Fantastic feeling to stand 21825ft above sea level and look across to see Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu and behind you Makalu. In all 5 of the top 14 mountains in the world all from the same place. All 7 of the team made the summit which was a fantastic effort as the usual success rate is around 50%
Photos were taken, hands shaken and a wee dram passed our lips in celebration of our achievement.
The home journey to Lukla took only 2 and a half days which included an excursion over a 5000m pass with more fixed ropes and even a touch of abseiling (much to Martin's surprise) before we arrived in Lukla where we had the usual presentation of gifts and tips to our great crew and more than a few beers to celebrate.
A long and at times arduous walk in some of the best scenery in the world with a great team of guides, porters and cooks capped by the 100% success of the team in reaching the summit.
Story kindly contributed by Alan Marshall, photos by Bill Cook
GalleryView a gallery of further images for this story.