Climbing Mera Peak, 6457m, Nepal

TSA Founder Oliver Browne Talks About Climbing Mera Peak in Nepal


The Wild Side of Nepal - Climbing Mera Peak, 6457m, Nepal

How high is Mera Peak, where is it, and how does one get there?

The main summit of Mera Peak is 6,457m. 

Mera is another of the so called ‘trekking peaks’ but unlike Lobuche or Island Peak there are no fixed rope sections. There is some crevasse risk however so climbers are roped up.

It is directly south of Mount Everest, on the edge of the Khumbu region and although it is a different valley system one arrives (like for EBC / Everest / Ama Dablam etc) to start of the trek at Lukla.

The best way to get there is via helicopter - we use Heli Everest for all our trips. Helicopter is safer than flying by fixed wing and much more convenient. Fixed wing flights to Lukla now depart from Ramchappe - a 4 to 5 hour drive from Kathmandu. Helicopter flights still leave from the main KTM airport.

How does the trek to Mera Peak compare with the trek to Lobuche?

Despite them both starting in Lukla it is totally different. The EBC trek is amazing; it has unbelievable scenery, and some of the best Mountain views in the world, but there is no denying that it can be crowded and the route is more densely populated - at least the lower parts. 

The Mera Peak trek feels wild! 

There are far fewer people and far fewer settlements and amenities. We made the trek in mid April and there was hardly anyone. 

The villages are smaller also - more quaint and with fewer restaurants and tea houses. Tigers and leopards are said to inhabit the area which would seem implausible on the EBC trek because of the number of people, noise etc but on the Mera Peak trek it seems highly likely! Wild looking forests filled with ancient trees coat the valley sides.. 

So you land in Lukla? And then?

There are two routes to the main section of the trek. You can take the long way round or you can take the Zatrawa La Pass. We took the pass which is definitely a challenge so early on in a trek if you’re coming unacclimatised. 

At 4600m the route is steep but the views are amazing and you really feel a sense of accomplishment as you reach the top and pass into the next valley. 

It is a lot of altitude gain in one day but it saves trekking the long way round shaving a couple of days off the trek. 

But for sure, this route is only for people who are in good shape and have had experience at altitude before. 

Kote sounds like an amazing place. Can you describe it to us?

Kote is probably the biggest village on the trek and is very scenic, quaint and picturesque. A stream runs through the village and you have to cross a wooden bridge. Outside of the village is the main river and you can cross another bridge there to visit the shrine on the far bank. 

All in all it feels like the set of an Indiana Jones film!

Where is the place to stay there?

Anggelo Sherpa owns and runs Himalayan Lodge, the best guest house in Kote and one of the best in the Everest region. Quite possibly they have the best food. The yak burger there is to die for! 

Angello is a serious mountaineer with multiple summit of many 8000’ers. When we stayed he was preparing a Japanese client for a double summit attempt of Everest and Lhotse on Mera. His client, from Tokyo, is in the process of cycling round the world and is taking in this climbing challenge on the way! It was cool to talk to him.

As well as good food they have wifi, hot showers and amazing coffee!

From Kote what happens?

It is a one or two day trek to Khare, the last settlement before the Mera Peak High Camp. We did it in one day, which took about 8 hours, stopping at Thagnak for lunch, but many people stay there as part of their acclimatisation. 

The trek from Kote to Khare is beautiful. The route follows the river up stream and the scenery is unreal. There is one section before Thagnak with rock fall risk onto the path so you have to move quickly and carefully, but otherwise it is beautiful.

Just before Thagnak there is a small uninhabited monastery to check out and after there is the Sabai Tsho lake which is out of this world. The Lake is fed by the Sabai glacier which spills into the lake at the far end and makes an impressive roar! It is a real highlight of the trek and trekking in the Everest region as a whole in my opinion.

So Khare is the last settlement in the valley?

The last permanent settlement. Khare is sometimes known as the Mera Peak Basecamp. There is then the high camp which is only inhabited during the climbing season.

Is Khare as spartan as Gorakshep, the last settlement on the EBC trek? 

Surprisingly not! Khare has many tea houses. We stayed at the best one, Refuge Mera Lodge which is excellent and has amazing views of the mountain. They have wifi and a really good menu in the restaurant which was busy when we visited. 

Tunc Findic was there doing some acclimatisation for Nanga Parbat - his last 8000m mountain needed to get the full set. Most of which he has done without supplemental oxygen. A great guy.

How long is the trek to the high camp?

The trek to the high camp took us about 6 hours I would say. It is quite straight forward but they final section is up a long uphill section and drags on! But at this point you start to see the amazing views of Makalu and Everest and an incredible number of glaciers! 

The high camp looks interesting! Describe it to us.

Yes it’s not quite as exposed or precarious as Camp 2 on Ama Dablam which is famous for that but it certainly has a slight feel of that to it. 

The camp has probably, 30 tents and a few small kitchen tents. Ours was fashioned from a nook in the side of the mountain and the custodian there knocked up some great food. Lots of tea and noodles with soup.

So you eat some food. And then?

After that you try to rest before your summit bid but it can be hard for some people as we’re high up at this point. My climbing partner didn’t sleep a wink but I was snoring my head off apparently.. 

We set off at 2.30AM from the summit. You put your crampons on in the basecamp and there’s 15 - 20m of walking over rock before you get to the glacier. 

Then begins to the long walk to the summit! It’s not particularly steep but it seems to go on and on. A good time is c. 4 hrs to the summit. We took a little longer, maybe the affect of my friend not sleeping or we were still tired from Lobuche!

There are no fixed ropes although at the summit itself there’s a fixed rope you could clip into. We just used it as a hand rail. There are lots of crevasses so you rope to each other and have to stay alert while crossing the obvious ones.

At the summit itself the views are out of this world. Particularly of Everest and Makalu. On the EBC trek the view of Everest can be disappointing if you do not have good weather at the right time. From the EBC itself you only really see the very top but here you see everything. It’s incredible..

How long did you stay at the summit?

It was cold. Probably -10 although with the wind it felt a bit colder, so not that long. Maybe 10 minutes. I was wearing La Sportiva Nepals but I would recommend wearing double layer boots, like La Sportiva G2’s. I also had mittens that I put on at some point as well as my thickest down jacket! 

Clothing wise you definitely need serious mountain gear. There were clients from another British company there (sadly one of these reselling agents) who hadn’t been given the correct kit list or adequate rental clothes. Sadly none of their guides had spotted they wouldn’t be warm enough and that the kit wasn't good enough. 

Some had to turn back for cold and the ones who went to the summit really suffered. 

How long does the descent take?

I think it was about 2.5 hrs back to the high camp where we had tea, more noodle soup and packed then another 2.5 hrs back to Kothe for lunch.

We then slept the night there and took a helicopter back to Kathmandu via Lukla the next morning. Simone Morro was our pilot. It was an amazing ascent!

Will you be offering a Mera Peak expedition on the website?

Absolutely, we are going to launch a 12 day "express" trip with Helicopter flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and return flights from Kothe. It will be epic!

Sounds amazing! What kind of price are you thinking?

We will be very competitively priced considering the heli transfers. 

I know that the current king of high altitude mountaineering charges $5100 and that is with fixed wing flights. We will be less than that and have helicopter transfers, and the best teahouse / hotel options. I will be leading the exped ..