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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Trip report for Mera Peak (Nepal) led by Steve Stout in April 2014

Photo: team photo in front of Mount Kyshar (Steve Stout)
Our Mera Peak Expedition in April 2014 was led by Steve Stout and we had seven climbers in the group coming from UK, Australia and India.  The Sirdar for the group was Domi Sherpa and the cook was Saila Tamang. 

The group arrived as planned to Kathmandu on April 12th and after checking into Hotel Tibet met up with Steve. It is worth pointing we made a change to our Mera Peak itinerary for 2014 by extending the trip by an additional night at Hotel Tibet at the start so there is now a full day in Kathmandu on the second day. On past expeditions we only had one night in Kathmandu so it was always a rush for the leader to brief the group, check everyone’s equipment, purchase any additional gear and weigh bags etc before starting the trek. I gather the extra day was appreciated by the group and everyone felt well prepared and organised for the flight to Lukla on 14th and the trek on to Puiyan for their first night camping.

Photo: mountaineering training at Khare (Steve Stout)
There are two seasons to climb Mera Peak: Spring and Autumn. In previous years we have always filled our Autumn expedition however we tend to get less demand for the Spring trip, in fact we have only organised one Spring expedition to Mera Peak before. We are frequently asked by people making enquiries about climbing Mera Peak whether Spring or Autumn season has better weather with higher summit success rate. On balance after taking into account various factors I think on average you have similar chance to summit in both seasons....

November is normally slightly colder with shorter days [take a look at our November 2013 Trip Report] whereas in April there is possibly a higher chance of a low pressure bringing a period of precipitation. Having said that one can get poor weather and conditions also in Autumn season too [take a look at our Trip Report for Mera Peak November 2011]. Overall these days I believe the weather in the Himalaya is becoming less predictable and it is certainly possible to get a cyclonic storm at any time of the year.

Traditionally after the first week of October one should get fine weather as the monsoonal influence diminishes and high pressure moves in over the Himalaya… although this did not happen on our Kanchenjunga to Makalu trek in October 2013! [take a lookat our Trip Report for Kanchenjunga to Makalu trek in October 2013]. Therefore the bottom line is if you are going on expedition to the Himalaya there is always an element of luck however statistically you have a pretty good chance to summit Mera Peak in both April and November!

Photo: jumping on Mera La with Everest behind! (Steve Stout)
For our expedition this April the weather was fine and settled for the trek into Mera Peak Base Camp. However after reviewing the forecast there was precipitation predicted for their summit day on April 27th so Steve made the decision to move directly from Khare to High Camp in order to beat the storm! This strategy paid off and four members of the group successfully climbed to the summit of Mera Peak.

The group set off from High Camp at 2am in two groups of three and summitted at 07.15am and then it took about an hour to get back down to High Camp. After a second breakfast the group headed down to Base Camp arriving in the early afternoon. I gather throughout the day the weather and visibility were perfect with crystal clear views of Everest and the other 8,000m peaks. Aidan sums up his experience by saying "it was tougher than anticipated but the summit was well worth it!".

Photo: group on summit day (Aidan Tyers)
Photo: summit shot! with Makalu behind (Aidan Tyers)
On the walk out to Lukla the weather changed and this caused flights to be cancelled at Lukla with many groups backing up while waiting for their flight back to Kathmandu. Our group also had to wait a few days however as they arrived to Lukla two days early than original itinerary in the end everybody got out on time or earlier than expected.

I would like to thank Steve and Domi for their leadership of this group and the rest of the Nepalese crew who as ever worked exceptionally hard to ensure the success of this expedition. Congratulations and well done to the whole group who all made personal altitude records. I have copied below some feedback received so far from the climbers:

“Really well organised from start to finish. Roland provides an exceptionally professional service whilst still being very personable. The team on the ground were great too, Tulsi was always prompt and ready to collect us from airports/hotels etc. as well as being a really nice guy! Steve, Domi, Sona and Dorgy were all really professional and I felt like I was in good hands that I could trust if anything were to go wrong.” Aidan Tyers (UK)

“I could not believe the quality and the taste of the food high up on the mountains. The cooking crew did a brilliant job - we always looked forward to our food with delight. It was mind-blowing!  Steve is a gem of a person - always looking out for us, foreseeing problems before they arise and preventing them. I cannot imagine this trip without his guidance and cheerfulness.” Gargi Shah (India)

Our next expedition to Mera Peak will be in November 2014 and the leader is Almas Khan, please get in touch soon if you would like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company