Apologies for the long delay in updates, the updater was away on a mini-break in Amsterdam…
In the meantime, the expedition has advanced pretty much as planned. After the rest day on last Wednesday, the group has been steadily gaining altitude and making their way towards Mera Peak.
From Tagnag, they trekked to Khare at 4900 meters, from where the route continues to the Mera Peak basecamp through the Mera La pass at 5600 meters – the highest point that some of the group have ever reached (including Mikko, I assume). The pass also presents some technical challenges and requires using crampons and ice axes for the first time on this expedition.
The group had to stay in Khare for an extra day because it was snowing and it would’ve been too risky to attempt the Mera La pass, especially for the porters who don’t have the same equipment as the members of the expedition.
Fortunately, the following day was sunny and, despite the trail being covered by a couple of centimeters of snow, walking wasn’t too difficult. Expedition leader Arnold depicts the Mera La pass: “The route follows the glacier moraine until you hit the snow cover on the pass. From here you have to climb a little steeper on top of the snowpack, but once you’re on top, the route is kind of straight and flat until the pass drops down again.” He also characterizes the area as a “playing arena for mountaineers”.
From now on, there won’t be any permanent settlement until after Baruntse. This means that the expedition will be completely self-supported with kitchen, dining, shower and toilet tents set up for them. According to Arnold, the Mera Peak basecamp is at a great spot, and they get to have it for themselves since there’s nobody else there.
On Sunday, it was time for some rope training before pushing further. The group practiced cramponing, jumaring, rappelling etc., all of which must be necessary skills later.
The group reached Mera high camp at around 5750 meters on Monday. From there, Arnold called a voice dispatch, telling that they were all very excited to be up there. It had been nice weather with sunshine and no wind, and they had been able to enjoy magnificent views with five of the highest peaks in the world visible.
When Arnold called, the weather was looking good, so he was hopeful about the group being able to summit Mera the next day, i.e. Wednesday. Judging by Mikko’s Spot track and elevation figures, I believe they have succeeded and have returned to the basecamp. I hope there will be a voice dispatch by Arnold from the summit available on the SummitClimb website tomorrow!