If nothing else, I’m pretty sure I’ll surpass my previous altitude record of 5300 meters in just few weeks. In the last post the route stopped to Thangnag for a rest day. From there it will go further up the Hinku Valley passing the last settlement of Khare before rolling over the Mera La and onto the other side to the Mera Peak basecamp. Again the leg is not very long – only about 4km – but passing the Mera La is the key here.
From Thangnag the route will diverse from the riverbed floating from Sabai Tso and ascend more steeply on the other bank towards the village of Khare at 4900m. Some sources say the elevation to be 5000m, but according to SRTM data and some other sources, it is not that high.
Khare – not to be confused with similarly named village 55km to the West – is considered as Mera Peak basecamp and if you are just going for Mera Peak it might be sensible to stay there, but as we will be continuing further east it would mean backtracking after the summit. Because of the basecamp status, Khare has a lot of lodging space and facilities available considering its remoteness. You can have a hot shower and buy a beer or other items too, so you even get to pamper yourself.
Overlooking the Khare is Mera La, the pass leading to Hunku Valley which is even more remote and is totally without any option to lodge other than camping. There is no permanent settlement even in Hinku Valley, but Hunku does not have even seasonal settlers. Crossing the Mera La at 5400m is also the first high point of this trip as I will surpass my earlier altitude record of 5300 meters that I have reached at the Tanglang La on the Manali-Leh Highway in India 2006. The route will traverse the ridge plateau for some hundreds of meters before it reaches the actual pass.
After crossing the pass, the route will descend on the other side to the basecamp spot at altitude of 5150m. This basecamp is lower than the one on top of the rigde at 5350m which means better sleep, and it has a small lake to provide water without having to melt it from the snow and ice. It will also be better protected from the weather as the ridges are quite exposed as you probably know. Having the basecamp on this side of the pass is also practical having the Baruntse in mind as we can now descend to the right side of the pass after summitting Mera Peak, not having to climb the pass another time. This place brings also another milestone for me as it will be the highest place I have slept at, the current highest being Rongbuk in Tibet next to the Everest basecamp. We’ll see how the sleeping goes this time; at Rongbuk I slept like a log, though others in that dorm didn’t have the same fortune 😀
At the Mera Peak basecamp will be spent the second rest/acclimatization day, but it will be used also for practicing the fixed rope techniques and roped travelling and other needed tasks and skills. After that, if all goes well, we will climb up to high camp and the day after to the summit and then back to basecamp the same day.
Forgot to link in previous posts, but you can check this and all the route legs from the Google Earth file[urldisplaymode=nomap] I have uploaded.