Off The Beaten Path: Mera Peak, Nepal

https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmabishop/albums/72157643399225483Mera Peak is one of the most allur­ing trekking peaks in Nepal as it involves a cul­tur­al­ly stim­u­lat­ing jour­ney through remote pic­turesque vil­lages and forests—followed by a mod­er­ate climb to the sum­mit. It is per­haps best known because it is Nepal’s high­est trekking peak.

The Himalayas are get­ting atten­tion. The media fren­zy around Mount Ever­est seems to build in inten­si­ty every year, and the trek to Ever­est Base Camp is now avail­able on Google Earth. But even as the spot­light shines ever-brighter on Ever­est, many trekkers and climbers remain unaware of oth­er acces­si­ble climb­ing options in the Himalaya.

Mera Peak is less than 20 miles due east of Ever­est, but because it is nes­tled in the Makalu-Barun Nation­al Park, it receives only a frac­tion of the atten­tion. At 6,476 meters, it’s clas­si­fied as a trekking peak, and the climb is so straight­for­ward that for guid­ed clients, no pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary.

For most climbers the trip begins in Kath­man­du, where teams can make final prepa­ra­tions, orga­nize gear, and explore the ancient city. When the weath­er allows, they catch a tiny plane into the town of Luk­la, which is nes­tled at the base of the Khum­bu Valley—the entrance to the Himalaya.

The Approach
From Luk­la, climbers were his­tor­i­cal­ly faced with three options to gain access into the Hinku Val­ley: cross the high-alti­tude Zwa­tra La Pass (which can be chal­leng­ing ear­ly in the trip, before climbers have accli­ma­tized ful­ly), approach by heli­copter (which until very recent­ly have been hard to find and very expen­sive), or take a cir­cuitous route that wan­ders far to the south (which makes the trip quite long). Today most climbers opt to take a heli­copter across the pass, which saves time and lets teams focus on a grad­ual acclima­ti­za­tion trek up the beau­ti­ful upper Hinku Val­ley.

As climb­ing teams make their way up the val­ley, they trek through the two tiny towns of Khote and Thag­nak. Lush rhodo­den­dron forests, shy herds of moun­tain goats, and glacial rivers dot the trail. After a week, give or take, teams reach Khare, a tiny moun­tain vil­lage at the very base of Mera Peak.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmabishop/albums/72157643399225483The Climb
In Khare, most climbers refresh their skills with cram­pons, ice axes, and ropes, which can be nec­es­sary to move up the moun­tain. High camp is nes­tled in a shel­tered spot on the breath­tak­ing Mera La Pass (5,415 meters), and climbers typ­i­cal­ly spend one night enjoy­ing the view before mak­ing an ear­ly morn­ing alpine start to the climb.

The climb itself is a straight­for­ward glac­i­er walk, and most teams hope to be approach­ing the sum­mit pyra­mid some­time in the mid-morn­ing. The final push can be steep and icy, so most teams opt to fix ropes for added safe­ty.

The view from the sum­mit is breath­tak­ing. The snow-capped Himalayan sky­line extends in every direc­tion, and on clear days climbers can see five 8,000-meter peaks: Mount Ever­est (8,848 meters), Lhotse (8,516 meters), Cho Oyu (8,201 meters), Makalu (8,463 meters), and Kangchen­jun­ga (8,586 meters). The descent to Khare, where most climbers spend the night, takes between 2 and 5 hours.

The Trek Out
From Khare, most climbers choose to descend quick­ly to Luk­la to catch flights back to Kath­man­du, where they can enjoy a hot show­er, a real meal, and soak in the sights.


For more infor­ma­tion about trekking adven­tures in Nepal, check out the Clymb Adven­tures page here.