Practice Run No.4: Mera Peak Summit, 6476m

In Practice Run No.4by Steve

Health Not 100% But Surviving.

A week down already. Apart from a headache, upset stomach, sore throat/congestion, still having my wrist in a splint, and basically zero sleep last night… I feel pretty good.

  • The headache is just par for the course when pushing to new altitudes. You deal with it and make sure it doesn’t become anything more sinister.
  • The upset stomach I put down to the boiled egg I ate yesterday which was slimy and grey around the yoke. I knew I should have tossed it, but I was hungry. Live with the consequences.
  • The sore throat and congestion (I won’t describe what I just coughed up) is probably the most annoying thing and I’m just hoping it clears when I head to lower altitude over the coming days.
  • The wrist is what it is. It’s an inconvenience to say the least, but learning to work around it.
  • The next to no sleep last night seems to be a growing trend which occurs every night before a summit push. The sore throat plus 02:45 wake up call didn’t help either.

But all in all, doing pretty well.

Yesterday we climbed from Khare to Mera Peak high camp at 5800m. The first half was along a rocky, snowy trail, and second half was up a pretty straight forward glacier. The camp site was quite nice, well sheltered behind a large rock outcrop with amazing views. The typical clouds and mist rolled in in the afternoon, bringing with it a light dusting of snow.

Thankfully the weather blew through, and getting up at 02:45 we were greeted with clear, star filled skies. It took an hour to get ready and have breakfast and we were on our way by 03:45. I don’t know what the temperature was, but it must have been somewhere around the forecasted -15degC or so. I don’t carry a thermometer with me as I don’t see the point. What difference does knowing the temperature make? If it’s cold I put more clothes on. If it’s hot a take some layers off. Other than that, I don’t see any point in monitoring and worrying about something I can’t control. It’s for the same reason I don’t carry an altimeter with me either. I know the end height I’m aiming for, and other than that, I don’t see the point in stressing about my progress. You just do the best you can and listen to your body. Although I will admit, sometimes for navigation, knowing the altitude is a definite advantage.

Anyway, 6476m was the altitude we were aiming for today, the summit of Mera Peak. And we reached it just after 07:00. For what is classed as a “trekking peak”, it was a long hard slog and did require basic mountaineering skills and being roped together in order to ascend safely, especially to navigate the many hidden cravasses, one of which I found the hard way. Thankfully it was quite narrow and I only wedged in waist deep and stopped.

The skies remained clear all morning with a brilliant sunrise across the Himalayas. The views from the top were superb with several 8000ers in sight, including Makalu, Lhotse and Everest. It was relatively windy hence the conditions weren’t quite as idealistic as it may sound, but it’s the mountains, cold and wind are part of the territory.

We were back down at high camp just after 08:30. First point of call was a block of Cadbury chocolate which I had been carrying with me the entire time. I told myself I’d ration it throughout the day, but it didn’t see out the hour. In my defence, I did share some of it around. Not in my defence, it was one of the large 350gram blocks.

Rather than heading straight back down to the relative luxury of the teahouses at Khare, I’ve decided to stay up at high camp for a second night in the aim of trying to maximise my acclimatisation. Tomorrow I’ll head down and start the trek back through the valley to Lukla. Hopefully some time in the relative warmth and thicker air of the lower valleys will give my body time to overcome some of the annoyances I’m currently dealing with.

As for the rest of today, I wish I brought my book up with me. When packing my bag and trying to trim weight, I’ve got to stop putting books in the “nice to have” category and start putting them in the “must have” category.

“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.