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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Trip report for Mera Peak expedition in November 2010

Photo: summit day on Mera Peak

Our Mera Peak group safely arrived back to Kathmandu yesterday, we were very fortunate to fly out of Lukla as planned as for the last five days the weather has been cloudy with only a limited number of flights operating to and from Kathmandu.

Yesterday there was a back log of over two thousand people waiting in Lukla to fly out to Kathmandu so our group was very happy to hear through our connections and ongoing relationship with Tara Airlines that we had confirmed seats for the first flight; we got back to Kathmandu around midday- for more information on the delays take a look at this article in Daily Mail.

In spite of the cloudy conditions in Lukla towards the end of the trek we had good weather for the rest of the time and experienced no precipitation during eighteen days of trekking. In fact for most of the days when Lukla was cloudy we were walking high above this level with the poor visibility confined to the lower valleys. My view is that November is the best time to climb Mera Peak, the weather is more stable at this time of year as by then well into the post monsoon period also far fewer other expeditions than during the month of October. Personally I would not want to climb Mera Peak in December as it would be too cold up high on the mountain and with fewer daylight hours resulting in more time walking in the dark before sunrise.

Our summit day was November 15th, we were very lucky to have clear weather with great views from Kanchenjunga in the east to Makalu, Lhotse, Everest and Cho Oyu further to the north. On leaving High Camp at 3.20am we experienced high winds with strong gusts however all twelve in our group carried on with admirable determination to successfully reach the summit of Mera Peak. Congratulations and well done to everyone.

Compared to last year the Mera glacier has clearly undergone a number of changes, firstly there are now more crevasses along the section to Mera La as well some large crevasses opening up before High Camp. However there is still an established trail on the glacier winding its way between these slots making the risk of glacial travel still quite low risk at this time of year. It will be interesting to see how the glacier changes over the next few years if these crevasses open up more then perhaps it might require ladders to cross over the snow bridges in the near future. The second change is the large amount of rock sitting on top of the ice on the entry ramp onto the glacier, there has been significant rockfall from the ridge above. The presence of these rocks on the ice makes it more challenging for climbers walking onto and off the glacier and of course especially awkward while wearing crampons.

This is the fifth year in row that I have led The Mountain Company’s Mera Peak expedition in November and our groups have successfully summitted every year. I have been very lucky to work with the same team of fantastic Sherpas for each of these expeditions; I would like to mention a very special thanks to our sirdar Pemba Tamang (double Everest summitter plus Manaslu and Shishapangma) and his brother Nurbu Tamang as well as Ngima Dorje Tamang and Rana Magar. Thanks also to Saila Tamang and Kumar who, as ever, worked very hard in the kitchen providing an endless supply of tasty meals.

The Mountain Company is organising two expeditions to climb Mera Peak in 2011, the dates for our first trip is from April 10th to May 1st 2011 and second one from October 30th to November 20th 2011. Lee Farmer will lead our April departure and I will lead our November departure. Please get in touch if you are interested in joining one of these expeditions to climb Mera Peak.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company