Monthly Archives: April 2012

Back to Base

Mera Peak - Central

All team members are now safely back at base camp (Khare).

For the three on the mountain, Janice, Di and Warwick, the day started at 1am. They set out from High Camp after a fitful sleep and headed into the dark towards the summit. Warwick turned back about an hour out from High Camp at around the 6000m mark. Janice and Di pushed on to the summit and were rewarded with beautiful clear skies and views in every direction. Janice said she could see everything – and everything includes Everest.

They made good time coming down and were back to base camp by 4pm (Nepal time). Janice said it was a wonderful experience but that they were absolutely exhausted. The phone link was, as usual, scratchy and intermittent but I suspect I could hear the beginnings of a celebration in the background.

The plan for tomorrow is to sleep as long as possible, then depart in a leisurely fashion, heading back down the valley for 4-5 hours. That may well have them back in the relative comfort of Kote tomorrow night.

Bernie

 

Summit

The view from the summit

Through the Adventure Consultants expedition updates we have received news that the team (with Dom, Frank and Margie being back at Base Camp we assume this means Janice, Di and Warwick with Guide Mark) have reached the summit of Mera Peak. The news of great views and weather suggests good conditions for the descent. Congratulations to all for their endevours at these altitudes – nothing is easy up that high. We look forward to more news when the team is settled at camp.

For those not receving the AC updates (http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/ac82/ ) the Summit Message reads:

We have just now heard from guide Mark Morrison from the summit of Mera Peak.
With great views and amazing weather for climbing his team made great time from their high camp to the top at 6476m.

Mark will be back down at high camp later today and will hopefully be able to provide a full account of their day.

Congratulations to all.

Bernie

Tough on Top

Sunday was a tough day on Mera Peak for our team. An early start from base camp and then the difficult climb up on to the glacier before the slog across the ice began. They walked in two groups, Warwick, Janice and Di in the lead group and Dom, Frank and Margie in the second group. About the time they were passing Mera La the weather deteriorated, wind rose, snow was blowing hard into faces and visibility declined. Warwick, Janice and Di pushed on towards High Camp while Dom, Frank and Margie made the decision to turn back.

Dom, Frank and Margie are now back at Base Camp, safe and relatively warm, and will wait there until the others return.

Warwick, Janice and Di will, if weather permits, be now making their summit push and will aim to back at Base Camp this evening. We are unlikely to receive any more news until early Tuesday morning.

Bernie

Support Welcome

Today, Sunday, the team begin the climb to the summit of Mera Peak. Depending on weather conditions and how well the team is travelling they may stop at Mera La (camp one) or proceed on to High Camp. Either way today will be a tough day’s climbing. While the glacier itself is fairly low angled the altitude will provide the main challenge (and those damnable plastic boots and crampons!)

As the team approach the climax of their adventure your support has become even more important. We are succeeding in getting text messages of support through to them although this may become more difficult once they reach High Camp. (Via my phone 0407093246)

I have been asked to include the links to the team’s donation pages for people wishing to support their fundraising efforts.

Bernie

Dom
Support Dominic Reppucci
Di
Support Di Walker
Frank
Support Frank Favaro
Janice
Support Janice Watt

Warwick
Support Warwick Bowden


Support Margie Anderson

 

Snow and Ice

Two pints of Super Dry, a vodka and orange and a good massage was Dom’s order before he handed the phone over to Margie.

Scenes from Glacier Acclimatization walk - see close up of plastic boots and crampons

Margie reported that the team had a pre lunch walk from base camp at 4800m up towards Mera La as far as 5300m before returning to camp. The track was a steep climb up onto the glacier and then, after changing into boots and crampons, a journey of exploration over mixed snow and ice. The first time in plastic snow boots and crampons is a unique experience and not necessarily a fun one. The walking motion is awkward, extreme concentration is required and fatigue comes quickly. But snow was falling as they walked and the team walked back to camp through

virgin snow. It was still snowing as they ate another excellent lunch and enjoyed warm drinks (not Super Dry) back at Khare.

Margie said that there were some very tired bodies but they had all coped well with their first glacier challenge. She was glowing in her praise of the Sherpas and porters. Nothing was too much trouble, they were generous and kind and always laughing. She also wanted to stress how wonderful the mountains are, surrounding them on all sides, and just how much were they are seeing, experiencing and learning. In fact the only time the wonder left Margie’s voice  was when she described how she had moved her tent so that there was a bit more space away from Warwick’s snoring.

Today (Friday) has given the team a good appreciation of what life on the mountain will be like. Tomorrow is a rest day and it will be most appreciated.

Bernie

Raring to Go

The team reached Mera Base Camp (Khare) before lunch today (Thursday) and are in excellent spirits. Dom said they had maintained their very slow deliberate pace which all the team were finding quite easy.

Dom reported that the team are also in good physical shape. A few have got over some minor tummy troubles and at this stage there is not an altitude headache between the lot of them. While some in the team found the jungle section difficult and were worried about what was to come, Dom said that the last few days has seen confidence and determination grow.

Dom did offer the thought that the excellent food must have come from Jenny Craig, because no matter how much they eat they are all, with the possible exception of Frank, losing weight. Message to Gina from Dom – he will need a new belt and all his trousers taken in please!

This afternoon they are re-acquainting themselves with their boots, crampons and climbing gear ready for tomorrows excursion onto the glacier. The plan at this stage is to go all the way to Mera La (camp 1) before returning to base camp. This will allow them to both acclimatize and to test their climbing gear in action.

I thought you might be interested in this photo of the map on my notice board on which I am plotting progress. In case you can’t read the writing: the two green tags are on Tangnag and Khare and the first pink tag is Mera La. Second pink tag is High Camp and orange is the summit. The map has some name and altitude discrepancies with other maps and I’m pretty sure some of the locations are wrong as well but the general direction of travel is close!

Bernie

Path to the Summit

Reality Check

From top: Camp at Tangnag, view of the glacier from the top of the acclimatization walk, Another view, What Janice lived on yesterday.

Speaking to Janice today it became obvious that today’s ‘rest day’ marked a significant turning point in the perception of the challenge to

 come. Before lunch the team set out on an acclimatization walk from the village of Tangnag at 4200m up to 4800m. The walk took two and a half hours and Dom was happy to declare that the team did it well and all were in good shape – but make no mistake, it was tough.

Life at altitude is difficult, sleep does not come easily and food loses it’s appeal. Janice for example spent the last day or so living on an obscure English sweet called Romneys Kendal Mint Cake (thanks to friend Catherine) because that was all her stomach could handle. Team Janice back at Ashford Hospital can relax though because Janice is feeling much better now.

From the high point on their walk today the team could see the glacier that will be their route around the back of Mera Peak to the summit.

Tomorrow (Thursday) they will journey to Khare (variously known as Kore or Mera Base Camp) which lies near the foot of that glacier. It will not be a long journey, with luck they will arrive well before lunch, but they will climb 600m. To give that a context: the oxygen level at breakfast will be 62% of what we are breathing at sea level, at lunch time it will be down to 55%. Janice said that the team were hoping that after lunch tomorrow they may be able to go further on up to the glacier and try out their boots and crampons.

Communication remains sketchy but we are having some success with text messages through to their sat phone. They are appreciating the messages of support which can be relayed through my phone 0407093246.

Bernie

Snow Falling on Tangnag

From top: The scramble up the valley, The Lodge at Tangnag, Tangnag from above, looking up at the mass of Mera Peak

Margie would like us to imagine just what she is experiencing at the moment: Sipping a hot chocolate in the remote village of Tangnag, a stone constructed lodge behind her and, filling her entire foreground – the snow-covered bulk of Mera Peak. A few of the team are already in their tents to one side of her, resting as their bodies start to acclimatize to life at 4200m. A light snow is starting to fall and she is looking forward to the warmth of her sleeping bag. The excitement in her voice at the nearness of Mera is apparent even over the distortions of satellite communication.

Margie described the 5 hour journey from Kote as a scramble over the large boulders along the river valley with majestic mountains on both sides. During the walk the vegetation gradually disappeared until at Tangnag (variously Tagnog and Tangnog) the landscape, the walls, the paths and the buildings are all made from the same unvarying rock.

Tomorrow will be one of those playfully named ‘rest days’ where the team will climb the slopes of Kusum Kanga on the opposite side of the valley to Mera up to around 4900m. This walk will challenge lungs and legs but is an important preparation for what follows in the coming days.

We are having some success in getting messages through to the group. Best method is to text me on 0407093246 and I can send texts on to the Sat Phone. No guarantees but worth a try.

 

Bernie

Deep Breath

We received word from Dom at the end of the rest day in Kote. The team are all well and appreciated the quiet day.

They went for a leisurely 2 hour acclimatization walk then got down to the serious business of showering, washing clothes and resting.

Mark Morrison

Dom gave special mention to Margie who managed to wash everything she had worn so far including boots  – cleanest trekker in Nepal. He also wanted me to let you know that the rain they walked through a couple of days ago was a monsoon of biblical proportions, unmatched by any rain in the history of Nepal – just in case you weren’t convinced of how heroic they have been so far.

A reminder that as well as these blogs you can receive the official dispatches from the team’s Adventure Consultants guide, Mark Morrison at:

 http://www.adventureconsultants.com/adventure/MeraPeak2012Dispatches/

You can also subscribe to receive notification of these updates.

Today the team start their journey into higher altitudes and are heading for the village of Tangnag at 4300m where the air is a little thinner and the backdrop is the bulk of Mera Peak.

Bernie

Into the Hinku Valley

From top: The Approach to Kote, Kote with Kusum Kanga (6330m) in the background, A busy collection of lodges and bridges, The chance for a hot shower, Interesting decorations

After 5 days of undulations, of forest and of relative isolation the team have reached Kote (Mosom Kharka). Kote is a substantial village at 3800m in the Hinku Valley. The Hinku Valley will be the pathway for the group for the next 4 days.

Today, Monday, is a rest day. A chance to clean and reorganise and especially to rest weary legs. Kote is a wonderful place for a weary traveller with its collection of lodges, buddhist shrines, solid stone buildings with elaborate painted windows, some other trek groups for a chance to swap tales and even a small store. But probably most appreciated, especially by Margie, is the opportunity for a warm shower and a hair wash.

Kote sits in a thinning forest of conifers, but this is the last gasp for the forest. From here on the vegetation thins and only low hardy species survive. The travel will now be essentially along the valley floor. The valley was badly flooded when a glacial lake burst in 1998 and the massive rocks tumbled over the valley floor are a legacy of that disaster.

A word on rest days.  They usually involve a 3 or 4 hour hike up the nearest hill to acclimatise at a higher altitude. Fun really.

 

Bernie

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