Mera Peak was a mountain that I had planned to ascend since December 2013 when I actually felt that I wanted a challenge that was within my ability but as the same time, would have given me a tough climb. After leading the Stok Kangri expedition in Ladakh in June 2014, I decided that this would a good progressive climb to climb as a lead up to Lenin Peak in July 2015.
So off we go!!! 3 friends from Singapore and 5 friends from Australia formed Team Mera. The whole duration of the trek and climb would take 17 days from Kathmandu to Kathmandu. The entire climb would involve the difficult task of climbing over the Zar Tra La Pass which rises up to 4200metres and finally, we would trek up various tea houses to reach high camp and finally the summit. For most of the group, climbing up the Zar Tra La would be considered as a summit push itself since they were first-time climbers and the high pass had very icy conditions in winter. In fact, during the trek itself, one French climber whom we met had fallen and died due to the fall. It was very shocking to the whole group but we still had to concentrate on the tasks ahead.
When we reached Khare, which was the highest tea-house for the trek, two of my cousins had fallen out of the team due to fatigue and also stomach issues. By the time we reached the Base camp, 3 of the team members had reached their maximum abilities and decided to stay behind. I had decided then that Afiq, Joy and myself would carry on to the summit from Base camp. Usually, there would be a high camp set up but due to time constraint and that the season was closing, we had no choice but to make one last summit push from there.
We spent only one night at Base camp on the 10th December and then on the 11th December, we had to push up to the summit. On that 10th night, Joy did not feel too well and as a result, it was just going to be Afiq and myself going for the summit.
For this trip, I decided that the weather was not that cold and thus, I left my down mittens at the base camp. This proved to be a bad decision and the cold 17 Degree Celsius would be the determining factor for turning Afiq and myself back from the summit at 5915m. We moved very quickly and were roped up as we reached high camp at around 430am. Having a short rest, we decided to move on to the summit till it was sunrise at around 630am. At many points of time during the summit push, it was my first time being stopped in my tracks due to strong winds and the winds blowing the snow up unto our faces.
Afiq and I made a unanimous decision to turn back as he was really freezing and I was afraid he would get hypothermia and my right fingers were really freezing as well.
Coming back, we decided to skip much of the way in by going out by a different route, which would place us in Lukla as well.
Overall, the team was extremely excited and happy to have survived the 17 day trek and I was glad that we had no serious casualties throughout the climb. Next stop for mountaineering would be Lenin Peak in Kyrgyzstan in July 2015. Stayed tuned!