How do you deal with the overwhelming urge to be back on the trail? You go on another adventure! I’ve been back in England for 6 days and that’s more than enough so today I am off to Nepal to climb Mera Peak in the Himalayas.
Mera peak is described as the worlds highest trekking peak. While there will be some work with fixed ropes to get to the summit, and it requires the use of crampons and an ice axe, you do not need any technical climbing skills to attempt this peak. Some would describe it as a good introduction to mountaineering. The skills required such as abseiling and jumaring can be learnt at the base of the glacier on Mera Peak, or you can, like I did, take a 2 day course before you go.
While the elevation gain will be a lot less per day than most of my days on the PCT, it is a lot higher – the summit is at 6,476m (21,247ft) and it will be a lot harder to function at the higher altitude. By day 5 I will be higher than Mt Whitney (4,421m / 14,505ft).
Gone are the days of ultralight. This trip requires some serious kit. Plastic boots, heavyweight gore text, 3 pairs of gloves and 4 layers of puff instead of 2 – I can’t move but at least I won’t be cold!
It has the potential to get really, really cold. At the moment the forecast is suggesting snowfall above 5,500m (18,000ft) and temperatures at the summit of -9°C / 15°F with a wind chill of -19°C / -2°F. Brrr.
Depending on the weather, the summit promises views of five of the 8,000m peaks – Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Kangchenjunga.
Why Mera Peak? Well, I’m not sure really. The PCT has taught me that I will never like walking uphill. It’s difficult and it hurts. I thought I would become part human part mountain goat by the end but that never happened, I huffed and puffed all the way. But. As soon as you reach the top of a climb you get a feeling like no other, success. You instantly forget how hard it was getting there and all you remember is being there and how good it feels. Altitude and I are not friends. We had a big falling out on Kilimanjaro and we weren’t talking on Everest Base Camp, but here’s hoping that we can make peace with each other third time around. There is a high chance I won’t make the summit because of altitude sickness, but if I don’t at least I tried. Despite these things, the Himalayan mountains are a magical place, once you’ve been it’s incredibly difficult not to get pulled back…which is probably why I’m going…