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  Summitclimb Baruntse & Mera Peak, Autumn 2011: Mera Summits!

 17 members and staff reached the summit of Mera Peak!
This morning (night) our staff woke us at 12am with tea and porridge. We all left high camp at 2 o'clock. The weather was calm and surprisingly warm. Only close to the summit we encountered some winds. Everbody managed to summit between 6 and 8 in the morning. Read below what Vivian and Jan have to say about their summit push.
Arnold Coster, exp. Leader.

By Viviane Pendleton
Mera Peak. Around 6500 metres above sea level and incredibly cold. We trekked up to high camp on Mera yesterday and today was our first summit attempt of the trip. We were woken at midnight (!!) to prepare for our bid for the top. I managed to whimper "coffee" and, courtesy of our fantastic team of Sherpas, my request was granted.
We set out into the freezing pitch black, the glow of our head torches a poor match for the impenetrable darkness. I felt completely disorientated as I followed the head lamp in front of me, hoping that it was going in roughly the right direction. After about an hour, I turned to my husband and whispered "I don't mean to alarm you, but I think that we may be at the front". A brief bout of questioning revealed that yes, we were indeed embedded in the lead bunch with the assistant guide and three climbing Sherpas. The arrival of Switzerland's Marcus and fellow Brit Rich (normal habitat, Somewhere Near The Front) convinced us that we had accidentally entangled ourselves with the A Team, so we dropped surreptitiously back, knowing that we would not be able to keep up their pace. It transpired that this was a bad time to be on our own, as a howling wind struck up, blowing snow into our faces and, more pertinently, covering the footprints of the group ahead. By this time we had been joined by Mia from Finland and the three of us battled into the snow and wind, in the direction we'd last seen any semblance of head torch. I was starting to get cold and even the sun, rising rather spectacularly over the stunning backdrop of the surrounding Himalayan peaks, did not alleviate this. Mia moved on ahead and we were joined by team guide Arnold. He pointed out Everest, Lhotse,
Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Cho Oyu to an enthralled Husband. Five of the world's 14 highest mountains towered over us, it was a spellbinding sight and went some way to consoling me for the fact that I could not feel my fingers. At about 6.30am we arrived just below the summit of Mera. There, I was confronted by a near vertical ice wall and expected to climb it. I did a quick analysis of the situation. 1: I had been up since midnight. 2: I was substantially higher than any mountain in Europe. 3: I couldn't feel my fingers. And crucially, 4: I was now supposed to negotiate a precipitous massif of ice. I won't lie. A small part of me thought "well.... heck, I'm nearly there..... I don't really have to climb up this." Sadly, The Husband and Rich decided that now would be an opportune moment to inflict some more suffering on me and proceeded to issue a series of conflicting commands from the foot of the ice wall. I started to scramble up the block of ice, pausing at times to hang off my ice axe, gasp for air and contemplate mountain etiquette with regard to falling asleep whilst roped onto a wall of ice. Eventually I arrived at the top and collapsed gracefully at the feet of Mia and Noora, also flying the flag for Finland. Somewhat exhausted, The Husband and I trailed back to base camp to prepare for our ascent of Baruntse. At 7100 metres, Baruntse is suspiciously likely to be yet colder than Mera, and may or may not involve ice walls.....

By Jan van den Bos
Yesterday all members and most sherpa's walked in their own pace to the Mera Peak High Camp, over the snow fields and glacier. The location of this camp is such, that you should not sleepwalk out of your tent. The tents are placed on small ledges, mostly on a different level. Also finding a 'toilet' place might be very risky, on some rock sticking out. But this, I guess, is one of the adventurous things we booked for. As Arnold remarked, Mera Peak is of course lower than the big giants of 8000+ m, but it has a lot of the things you will find there. So an excellent training mountain for Baruntse that we will reach within a week. Late in the afternoon our really great cook staff made a dinner, served in the tents. We tried to get some sleep till wake-up time, 0.00 h. A breakfast was served, and everyone except Erich prepared for the climb. At 1.45 all climbers and climbing sherpa's were ready and we left. Soon the group was split up into smaller groups (there's a variation in climbing speed), all
led by a sherpa. As I later heard most of us had a hard time climbing the 800 metres from high camp to the summit. Was it the early time, or the wind that blew snow in our faces? Apart from Andrea (cold feet) everyone reached the summit, after the last 10 m of iceclimbing with a fixed rope. The first group (Richard, Markus and me) had at 5.30 a.m. an astonishing view on the surrounding mountains and a beautiful sunrise. At about 8.30 all members had reached the summit. It was hard work but worth while! After taking their belongings from high camp all climbers are now back in base camp. Tomorrow we will leave this camp in the direction of Baruntse base camp, which we hope to reach within two days.
Jan van den Bos


22 October, 2011
After a snowy day yesterday, today stated off sunny and nice. Although the trail was covered with a couple of centimetres of fresh snow, walking wasn't too difficult. 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 off straight and flat until the pass drops down again.
The surroundings are beautiful; it's a playing arena for mountaineers! We also get a good view on our route on Mera Peak.
Unfortunately the day ended with snow again, this is quite normal in the afternoon. The clouds always drop down and give a little precipitation, but not too much. We passed the last villages until after Baruntse. We have our own kitchen setup, dinning, shower tent, toilet etc. totally self supported from now on!
Tomorrow we will do a day of rope training, before we go higher on the mountain. Probably later in the afternoon some washing and I might shave.
Arnold Exp. leader

21 October, 2011
Today we woke up with a fresh amount off snow, all night it had been snowing and it didn't look like if it would stop soon. So I decided to stay in Khare and not cross the Mera La today. Specially for our porters who don't have the same equipment as us this would be a bit risky!
Now it looks like the weather is clearing, so tomorrow will probably be fine and we will cross the Mera La to our basecamp at the other side.
Arnold Exp. leader

Hi everyone. This is Tak. Greeting from the high Himalayan mountains just below the Mera La 4900m.
Today we are not going to go anywhere because of snow. Anyway so far so good. I feel fine, eat well and drink well. I cannot go first because high altitude makes one go slow, step by step. Mizuho san please let every one know I am ok.
Love Tak

20 October, 2011
Good afternoon to those of you unfortunate enough to know me.... Viv here.
Today started with our morning wake up call with a Sherpa delivering us coffee in bed (or rather in sleeping bag and tent).
We set off at an enthusiastic 8 am for our highest camp to date, Khare, which nestles at the foot of Mera Peak at a respectable 4900 metres. The terrain was more gentle than on previous days and a gradual incline saw us gain 700 metres over the course of between 2 and 3.5 hours.
We saw more of Mera Peak today than we have before as we moved steadily towards the north side, from where we will start our ascent. The mountain afforded us some spectacular views, with the snow drenched peaks rearing through the clouds to tower above us. As we started to pass glacial moraines and vast ice seracs, there was no mistaking the fact that we were now truly in the mountains; the sub tropical vegetation and verdant valleys of past days were far behind us.
On arrival at Khare we were greeted, as always, by Sherpas bearing warm lemon juice and a welcoming smile. Khare boasts a handful of tea houses, an abundance of two man orange tents and several makeshift "facilities". In comparison to some of our previous camps, it's a veritable metropolis.
Lunch was served in a bona fide building - it had windows, stairs and, if you will, floorboards. From this lap of luxury, we will venture forth tomorrow to attempt the Mera-La pass. This snow-covered corridor will perhaps be the group's greatest challenge to date. At 5600 metres, it will be the highest point that some of the group have ever reached. Our crampons and ice axes will be unearthed for the first time as the pass presents us with technical challenges and leads us, as we descend, to Mera Peak base camp.
Viviane Pendleton

19 October, 2011
After a good night of sleep, this morning was a waiting game for the sun. It looked like the sun was playing games with us: everywhere in the valley we could see sunrays, but at our camping spot it seemed a lot longer before it appeared. At around 9am we got rewarded for our patience and we could fully enjoy the warm sunrays.
We spend the morning washing clothes, shower and shaving (for the guys). Some off us went for a small acclimatization hike to a view point nearby.
Tomorrow we will go to Khare at around 5000m. This is the last village along the way to Baruntse. From here we will be all a by ourselves....
Arnold Exp. leader


18 October, 2011
Tagnak Holiday Resort - from special reporter Jan:
As usual, this morning we were woken up by the sherpas serving morning tea. You can hear the sound of the tray with mugs from far away. It's one of the finest moments of the day.
Also as usual it was very nice weather in the morning. Yesterday we had to climb a 'little more' than expected (optimist Arnold called it 'only going down'). We were anxious to experience today's trip from 3500 to 4200m. This time it was not quite as easy, but we had a nice path, gradually ascending along a river with great views. Today and the following days we will make a half turn around Mera Peak before we sprint up to the summit.
Within an hour from the first of our group arriving at Tagnag, everyone was here. We had a rest in the sun, which really felt like we were in some summer resort. We are going to stay here for two nights. Tomorrow we will be acclimatizing, resting, washing, showering - just as one wishes.
Beside that we're a quite a strong group right now and also a group of people that creates a good atmosphere, with animated talks during all meals, from breakfast to dinner. Mostly English is the common language, but sometimes you can hear Finnish, German or Dutch too.
It's a good life here in the mountains. This evening we are even sitting around a warm wood stove! So bye-bye for now from this holiday resort.
Now a few words to my Dutch friends:
Alles goed hier, zoals jullie hierboven kunnen lezen. Er is geen telefoonverbinding of internet, dus via mijn blog berichtjes verzenden lukt een tijd niet. Maar goed, zo heb ik via een omweg toch een bericht kunnen posten...
Jan van den Bos

17 October, 2011
After another early start we hiked to Kote. In the beginning the rout zig zags along the hillside from Zetra, before it drops down to the forest. Before dropping down we got our first view of our objective, Mera Peak. Although this peak is known as a 'trekking peak' it's a massif giant at the end of the Hinku valley.
The forests first consists of rhododendron and bamboo trees, but later giant ancient pine trees. The path continues down until reaching the Hinku River. Along side the river is the small village of Kote, a small oasis! Here we also resupply the expedition with fresh vegetables and meats.
Tomorrow we will continue to Tagnag at around 4300 metres.
Arnold Coster, exp. leader

16 October, 2011
In the night Charkateng cleared up and we got treated with clear views in the morning. Our staff woke us up at 6:30 am with tea and coffee. We packed our duffles and as soon as our porters got a hold off these, they were already on their way! These people are amazing carrying 30-50kg on their backs, very essential for a successful expedition.
Today we had a clear view of our caravan of porters, because the route goes straight up the Zetra La. I think the group is strong; we all made it up to the pass in a few hours. We had great views of Cho Oyu, the mountain we summitted with our other expedition team just 13 day before. After a small lunch break we descended down to the small settlement of Zetra where we will spend the night.
Tomorrow we will descend to Kote and we are really in the Hinku valley. The Hinku valley is green and beautiful, I am looking forward to that.
Arnold Coster Exp. Leader

15 October, 2011
Last night we had our first night in tents, from now on these will be our homes. After a good breakfast we headed up to Charkateng just a few hours walk. The trail goes up fairly steep and we walked in the clouds most off the time. Charkateng is located at around 4000m, just before the Zetra La pass. Tomorrow we will cross the pass and walk into a new valley until we reach Mera Peak. It was just a short walk today, so I don't have much news.
We are having an easy start, so we can save energy for later!
Arnold Coster, Expedition leader

14 October, 2011
This morning it was an early and slow start. We left our hotel around 5:30 am to go to the airport for our Lukla flight. Lukla is a small, but busy mountain village at the Everest trail. Many tourists start their mountain adventures here. It has a tiny airstrip on the hillside and the flight specially the landing can be very exciting.
The problem is that they only fly when there is good visibility. This morning started off foggy, so we had to wait a couple off hour's at the Kathmandu airport before we finally could fly to Lukla. After this everything when smooth.
Kaji our Sirdar, already arranged the porters we need for our trek. We had lunch and moved on to our first camping place just below Chutanga at around 3200m a couple of hours walking from Lukla. Here we pitched our tents and have our first night out in the mountain.
Tomorrow we will move on to Yak Kaharka at 4000m, this way we can split the altitude jump over the Zetra la pass in two.
All members are fine and healthy; we are all eager to go to higher elevation.
Arnold Coster, Expedition leader Baruntse

Baruntse Team Roster:
Arnold Coster (leader) - Netherlands
Mikko Wuokko - Finland
Stef Wolput - Belgium
David Smith - UK
Jan Van den Bose - Netherlands
Alan Barclay - UK
Markus Staehlin - Switzerland
Andrew Pendleton - UK
Ms. Viviane Cotes - UK
Takeshi Ogasawara - Canada
Daniel Newton - Australia
Ms. Noora Sotaniemi - Finland
Ms. Mia Graeffe - Finland
Erich Bonfert - Germany
Richard Bryars - UK
Steven Barton Etchen - US
Jaco du Preez - South Africa
Robert Krueger - US

Mera Peak Team Roster:

Ms. Andrea Devoe - US
Terry Schuck - US


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