Mera Peak, Nepal, 6470"Are the shoes OK? Yep, just take double socks and you are fine"
If you dont want to read the whole article, HERE is the video:-)
Mera Peak is called the highest trekking mountain in the Himalayas, I find this way of categorizing rather unfortunate. Mera Peak is undoubtedly challenging and the whole ascent can surprise you in many ways.
It is May 2023, I am meeting with Honza Sovíček and he tells me that he would like to go to Himalayas one more time for some 6,000 meter peak. He immediately catches my attention and I’m thinking about how to deal with the information. After about three seconds of detailed thinking I immediately sign up for the team. So we would have the team: Me, Honza Sovíček and Honza Sovíček junior. Now all I have to do is fine-tune the date, flights, mountain guide, equipment, vaccinations, insurance, vacation (unpaid leave), my fitness and ask at home if I can actually go.
One of the first things I deal with is insurance. With valid Alpen Verein I am full of optimism, but after further research I only find out that Mera Peak is in an information vacuum. It is higher than 6000 meters, but at the same time it is not considered an expedition peak. I don’t know how to proceed and DAV couldn’t advise me either. They suggested insurance for leisure and sports…hmmm, but there they don’t write anything about insurance above 6000 meters altitude. After the team meeting, we decide to buy insurance from the Czech Mountaineering Association, the insurance is through the UNIQA insurance and really easy to understand and “digest”.
Insurance is done. What’s next? We need a mountain guide. There is a new rule that even when trekking you must have a guide in Nepal today. The locals themselves say that it is difficult to enforce this, but we want a guide, because none of us have ever been higher than 4000 meters (Honza acutally was at 5640, Kala Patthar). We receive a recommendation through a friend of Honza Sovíček and contact directly Norsang Lama from High Camp Trekking , I can only recommend them as it has been an amazing experience with them.
We sort everything out via WhatsApp and plan the entire trip. It is planned for about 23 days and we will be joined by another climber from New Zealand, Iolo Adams.
We start putting our equipment together. I recommend packing quality clothes for the rainy days as well as clothes and warm sleeping bag which can handle temperatures around minus 20 degrees centigrade. As for trekking shoes, I went in Salomon Supercross trail running shoes and it worked just fine. We will get to the topic of shoes later on.
Our plan was as follows:
Besides our bags we are also delivering three boxes full of climbing holds for the planned climbing wall in Kathmandu. I hope future generations will appreciate our efforts and thanks to Honza for organizing it! Climbing holds are apparrently hard to get in Nepal.
Everything is ready – at least i think so and we set off from Prague, via Dubai to Kathmandu. First we meet Norsang’s brother from High Camp Trekking and he says that everything is OK and Norsang is on his way but if he doesn’t make it, he will come with us himself. We head to town and stay at the Backpackers Inn everything was organized again via whatsapp and despite my initial doubts, they know about our arrival and we have a place to sleep.
In Kathmandu we are greeted by chaos, smog and good food unless you decide to try Korean restaurants like us, which doesn’t make sense in Nepal really.
We exchange the money and are looking forward to heading out to the mountains. We receive the info that we will only meet Norsang at the airport on the day of our flight to Lukla, as he is just returning from an expedition from Manaslu (8163)….wtf.
At the airport, we learn that he returned from Manaslu at night only to repack his backpack and to come with us to Mera Peak immediately. To this day I don’t understand where he got the energy to go immediately on the next trek after Manaslu.
At the airport, we try to check-in like everyone else, but something does not seem right. Everyone is eventually leaving while we keep waiting at the airport. After a while Norsang comes to us and says: everything is different, we are not gonna fly by plane, but I got us a helicopter. We don’t ask why and what happened and after 30 minutes flight we land in Lukla.
Shortly after landing, we leave for Paiya (2730). One of the biggest and first surprises was the steepness of the local slopes in Nepal. One moves through the terrain really slowly and even if it looks like you will be on the other side of the valley in an hour, it will take you half a day. Truth is though that the locals can move in the terrain pretty fast.
There are two options how to get to Mera Peak. From Lukla directly via the Zatrwa La pass (4620) or via Payia and Pangom, with a gradual acclimatization. The second option is a bit longer and you will encounter leeches and difficult terrain, which we eventually started to call “Nepali flat”. Yet Nepalese jungle has offered amazing views and it is not something you expect in such high altitudes.
Via Paiya, Pangom (approx. 3200), Ramilo Danda, Chatara Kola we reach Kothe, where the Mera Peak valley begins. It is a beautiful hike along the bottom of the valley and it is the first time we are outside of the Nepalese jungle and have the opportunity to admire the Himalayan peaks.
From Kothe we head to Thangnak, where we spent our acclimatization day hiking the surrounding hills. At the end of the valley we reach Khare (approx. 5000). Khare is the last village/accommodation before you go to the High Camp (5800) and is also the place where we rent equipment we need for the ascent.
Most groups rent a harness, ice ax and boots up to minus 20 degrees. We are also looking for everything we need and immediately have a problem with the fact that Honza’s shoe size is 46. Have you ever seen anyone in Nepal with a 46 shoe? Well, exactly.
We keep trying various shoes until we find one pair with a hole, which we manage to fix with the duct tape. I pull out my favorite Scarpas and ask if the shoes are OK. Norsang looks at them and says “yep these are good, just take double socks and OK”….
We are heading up, pass the “base camp” where you usually dont stop and continue on the glacier to the high camp (5800). The weather is beautiful and we meet a lot of groups who decided to go a day earlier because of the weather conditions and thus shorten their acclimatization. I have to say I am glad we did our acclimatization right, because you never know what kind of problems can occur, plus I still did not avoid occasional headaches.
At the high camp the tents are already set up for you and you even get a Dal Bhat plus instructions to rest as the wake up call will be at 1 am. We chill around and are enjoying the mountain views around. I can’t sleep very well and manage to get some rest only for few hours.
It is 1 am, the cellphone rings and wakes me up in my warm sleeping bag. We are packing and getting ready for the ascent. I have two socks and head outside where I am greeted by beautiful starry sky shinning above my head and by winds blowing in my face at the speeds of about 30-40 km/h accompanied by a feeling of minus 20 degrees.
I’m standing at the top, the wind is incerdibly strong, I turn around and see that Honza is trying to say something, unfortunately I didn’t understand. Here is the video – if you can please play it with sound and let me know what it is about, thanks a lot, appreciate it.
We head back through Khare, Kothe, Thali Kurka and over Zatrwa La pass (4620). At Zatrwa La pass a young girl offers us tea and we only later find out that every morning she has to carry about 20 liters of water up hill about 500 vertical meters, life in Nepal is tough. We pass the Zatrwa La pass and arrive in Lukla. There you may have to wait a few days for your flight due to unstable weather and I recommend to plan for these contingency days. In general I feel that Nepal and the Himalayas will teach you patience. We fly from Lukla to Manthali airport (Ramenchap) followed by a 5 hour car ride. The ride was quite an experience and we only started to enjoy it after Honza gave us expired nausea pills. The video below shows though that the atmosphere and the play lists in the car were epic:
Here is the whole journey as recorded by Honza Jr – Thanks a lot!
Thanks a lot for reading and till next time!
Michal Dub, Honza Sovíček, Honza Sovíček ml, Iolo Adams, Norsang Lama (High Camp Trekking)