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  Summitclimb Baruntse & Mera Peak, Autumn 2011

 4 November, 2011
This is Mia and Noora from base camp:
The three of us Mia, Noora and Jangbu left camp 2 at one in the morning. The night was clear. We enjoyed the variable climb. Jangbu had made excellent work finding the safest way through the crevasses, overhangs and icefalls.
It was a long night but morning broke as we reached the south summit. From there it was still about 90 minutes until the real summit pyramid. At 8.20 we had a beautiful view of most the 8000er peaks in Nepal and Tibet. It was a windy morning so we didn't stay at the summit to long.
On the way down we met Stef at the south summit followed by Tak, Dave, Arnold, Daniel and Steve. It was a really hot afternoon and the two of us had plenty of time to descend to base camp. There we received a warm welcome by the others who summited one day earlier.
Stef, Dave, Arnold and Nawang Sherpa summited later the same day. They stayed at camp two and just arrived here in the base camp. The whole team is now back in base camp eating and resting. Tomorrow we continue our trip to Amphu laptsa so we still have some climbing ahead. It has been a long trip and we are all looking forward to the treats in Namche.

3 November, 2011

Already one day before the official summit day 5 climbers reached the summit of Baruntse. Whereas the main part of the expedition moved from camp I to camp II, the climbers pursued the so called "swiss solution": They started early form camp I and skipped camp II. So they avoided a second night high on the mountain and the foreseeable "traffic jam" at the official summit day. Chief-Sherpa Jangbu, assistant Sherpa Chauwang, Rich (UK), Jan (Holland) and Markus (Switzerland) left Camp I at 2 AM they reached the point where the ridge gets very sharp (approx 6800m). At this point all groups of other expeditions this season gave up and turned back from here. Luckily our Sherpas found a route from here the day before. The sharp ridge provides an excellent ice climbing over several steep ice walls and extremely exposed cornices. At 10.45 the two Sherpas and the three members reached the summit. During 30 Minutes they enjoyed the spectacular view.
Then the descenT with all the abseilings demanded the full attention. At 1.30 the group was welcomed by the colleagues at camp II. Rich and Markus made all the way down to Base camp (4.30 pm) whereas Jan spent one night at camp I. Early in the morning (after a record temperature reading of - 22 degrees in the tent) he continued to Base camp, where he arrived just in time for a big breakfast with porridge, eggs and pan cake

2 November, 2011
Team 1 and Team 2 Summits!

Today we set off for our summit push. Unfortunately Alan, Erich and Mikko decided not to join us. I am in Camp 1 at 6100m now with 13 members.
Tonight our first group, Jan, Markus and Richard, will set off at about 2am. They will try to summit direct from Camp 1, all the others will climb to camp 2 tomorrow at 6400m and try to summit the following morning.
So far none of the other teams here reached the summit off Baruntse.
Yesterday our super Sherpa, Jangbu already went up and fixed rope on all the main difficulties of the summit ridge. They returned just a few metres short of the summit, leaving the last part for us to conquer!
So all is well, I hope the weather will stay as good as it is now. Actually it's warmer here in camp 1 then it was is base camp.
I will call in dispatches from Camp 2, so stay tuned!
Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader

27 October, 2011
After the hard efforts of summit day, we were all delighted to hear that it was back to the normal routine this morning - a friendly wake up with a cup of tea at the leisurely hour of 7am! On the bright side, given that an early night had been the order of the day the evening before, this still meant at least 10 hours sleep, something of a luxury after our rather short night at high camp. In truth however, I was woken somewhat earlier by a new dawn chorus - the sound of hacking coughs coming from other tents, and also somewhat closer to home from my tent-mate Steve. The famous Khumbu cough seems to have taken a hold on a number of team members after the strain of climbing Mera.
Still, today was to be a nice relaxing day - a 500m decent down into the Hongu valley where, we were assured, the air would be rich with oxygen, the weather would be warm and sunny and we could all expect to sleep well. With these bright thoughts, I got up for breakfast, only to discover that it was cold and windy and, even worse, the porters had already taken down the dining tent ready to leave. Breakfast was therefore to be an alfresco affair - although it was lovely sitting with views of Mera peak, eating porridge and then omelette and chapattis with gloves on proved slightly more difficult than our normal breakfast (its worth noting for any concerned mothers out there that we are eating extremely well on this trip!).
Breakfast over, we set out with various layers of down clothing on, looking generally more like we were heading out for the summit again than going for a short trek to our campsite. To compound the disappointment of the cold weather, in what is becoming something of a pattern, the walk downhill turned out to be typical 'Nepali' down - with more time spent going uphill than going downhill! Fortunately, we were quickly rewarded with some stunning views of our main objective - Baruntse - glistening in the sunshine at the end of the valley. The walk therefore turned into quite a relaxed affair, a gentle pace for our tired muscles and lots of time to take photos along the way as we passed some stunning green lakes on the way down.
Our campsite for today proved to be a small clearing surrounded by boulders down by the river at about 4,800m where we arrived in time to move into our tents (largely already erected by the Sherpas) and then to have a rather nice lunch (we are truly being well looked after). Sadly, the decent to lower altitudes has brought back the afternoon clouds which rolled in rather early during lunch leading to a cold afternoon and sending most people scurrying to their tents to put on yet more down clothing and to hide from the gentle flurries of snow which have started to fall. Apparently Erich (the oldest member of the team whose combination of age and stamina defy belief) who is something of a philosopher in normal circumstances predicted snow today so I may have to pay more attention to his musings in future...
Anyway, I'm now huddled in the newly erected dining tent, playing some cards and drinking endless cups of tea to keep warm. Meanwhile, the porters seem to be having considerably more fun, laughing and even (allegedly) doing backflips through the camp. Apparently they found some 'medicinal' roots near the campsite which might be making them somewhat happier... hopefully Arnold's extensive medical skills won't have to be tested further...
Time to stop typing now as my fingers are getting somewhat cold - I'll just send out some Birthday wishes to Mikko's sister as apparently he forgot a couple of days ago... climbing a 6,500m peak doesn't seem like a particularly good excuse to me...
Richard Bryars


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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