Mera and Island Peak with Amphu Labtsa (optional)

Mera and Island Peak with Amphu Labtsa (optional)

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Mera (6,654m and Island Peak (6,160m) are both highly sought after summits in their own right. Although geographically fairly close together, they are separated by the formidable mountain chain- dividing the Hongu and Khumbu Valleys. This expedition provides a rare opportunity for climbers to attempt both peaks, linking them with a crossing of the difficult, yet stunning Amphu Labtsa Pass (5,780m).

Mera - Fast Facts

Elevation: 6654m. / 21,247 ft.
Range/Region: Khumbu Himal / Hinku Valley    
Latitude: 27o 67' 70"
Longitude: 86o 86' 20"
First Ascent: 1953
Trip Grade: PD

Island Peak - Fast Facts

Elevation: 6,160 m / 20,285 ft.
Range/Region: Khumbu Himal / Sagarmatha
Latitude: 27o92'08"
Longitude: 86o93'72"
First Ascent: 1953
Trip Grade: PD/PD+

Mera (6,654m and Island Peak (6,160m) are both highly sought after summits in their own right. Although geographically fairly close together, they are separated by the formidable mountain chain dividing the Hongu and Khumbu Valleys. This expedition provides a rare opportunity for climbers to attempt both peaks, with the option of linking them with a crossing of the difficult, yet stunning Amphu Labtsa Pass (5,780m).

This has proved to be a very popular expedition as it provides a unique opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful and remote valleys in Nepal combined with a high altitude climbing programme, which takes participants through a progressive range of mountaineering skills. The longer approach route we follow to Mera allows for a far better rate of acclimatization than the rapid ascent from Lukla and over the high pass of the Zatrwa La, inherent in the average expedition schedule. We spend no less than 11 of the 30 days above 5,000 metres on this expedition and the benefits offered by gradual trek in have been proven many times.

Mera Peak (6,654m):
Mera is a technically straightforward climb and is the highest 'trekking peak' in Nepal, which is climbable by people without mountaineering experience. The steady (but strenuous!) glacier climb to the summit rewards us with fantastic views of Nepal and a vista that takes in Kanchenjunga and Makalu to the east, Everest and Lhotse to the north, and Ama Dablam and Cho Oyu to the west.

After the climb we descend into the quiet Hongu Valley and head north towards the huge bastion of Lhotse. The Amphu Labtsa is our exit from the head of the Hongu Valley. Reaching it is not difficult, but the descent on the far side entails the use of fixed ropes and a short abseil. As we descend, we will have excellent views of Island Peak just across the Imja Valley.

Island Peak 6,160m:
Island Peak is a more technical climb, involving a grade 1 scramble up a rock gully and an easy rock ridge, to a glacier. Above the glacier, a steep snow headwall leads to the summit ridge, which continues, in an incredibly exposed position, to the summit.

After the climb we descend to the main Everest trail with its welcome teahouses. This will certainly provide a contrast from our last two weeks in the remote high mountains!

Optional: (We already have a separate Amphu Labtsa, Mera and Island Peak Program, so in this itinerary we have the Amphu Labtsa Pass as an optional undertaking. If you do / do not wish to limb this high pass then please let us know so we can tailor the itinerary accordingly.

Amphu Labtsa pass: This is more technical than Mera Peak. It will be necessary to surmount a series of ice steps (safeguarded by a fixed line) to reach the rocky crest, and from the top we will make an abseil or a lower of around 35 meters (120 feet) to reach fixed lines which are used to safeguard the final descent of approximately 300 meters (1000 feet) over 30 - 40 degree snow and rock to easier slopes.

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Day 01: Kathmandu arrival, transfer to the Hotel (Thamel Eco Resort).

Day 02: Free day in Kathmandu or optional guided sightseeing tour of the city’s main attractions, followed by trip briefing and welcome dinner with live Nepalese culture show in the evening hosted by Makalu Adventure.

Day 03: Kathmandu – Lukla (2840m) – Poyan (2,800m):
An early start for the dramatic flight through the mountains to Lukla.  If the sky is clear during our flight, we will get our first views of Everest and the region in which we will be climbing. The Twin Otter aircraft will take us to the hillside village of Lukla, which is the start of our trek to Mera. Here we will meet our camp staff and porters and set off straight away for our first camp at Poyan.

Day 04: Poyan - Pangkongma (2,846m):
After crossing the Poyan Khola, we turn off the main trade route coming up from the south and join an older route, which climbs steeply to the ridge-line overlooking the Khare Khola. Descending the other side of the ridge, we then contour along the hillside before climbing steadily up to the attractive farming and trading village of Pangkongma (2,846m). Many expedition members have been made welcome by the villagers here, spending several pleasant hours warming themselves in front of an open fire in the enveloping and welcoming atmosphere of the local's traditional Sherpa homes.

Day 5: Pangkongma - Nashing Dingma (2,600m)
With fine views westwards towards Takshindu Monastery and Lamjura, we climb through thick rhododendron forest and bamboo leading to the Pangkongma La. On the way up to the Pangkongma La, it is worth detouring via the Pangkongma Monastery for a guided visit. From the pass, we have good views of the south face of Mera with its twin peaks and of its neighbour Naulekh. We then make a scenic descent with beautiful views looking south across the endless foothills rising each side of the Hinku valley. This steep descent leads down to the wire rope bridge that spans the Hinku Khola. A steep, strenuous climb on the opposite side leads to Nashing Dingma (2,600m). We stay here for the night at the excellent campsite established by the Makalu National Park.

Day 6: Nashing Dingma - Chalem Kharka (3,600m):
Gaining height gradually through pasture and lush greenery, the trail steepens as we climb up to the Surke La. It is possible to take a nice, welcome cup of tea in a lodge just over the pass. Walking on, eventually, we reach an attractive campsite at a col 1km beyond Chalem Kharka (3,600m), set among fir trees and rhododendron bushes.

Day 7: Chalem Kharka - Chunbu Kharka (4,200m):
Climbing the side of a ridge, we emerge from the last traces of rhododendron and the terrain becomes more rugged. Passing through high grazing country and crossing a small pass, we are treated to some excellent views of Kangchenjunga and Jannu to the east. We continue climbing to Panch Pokari and then on to camp at Chunbu Kharka.

Day 8: Rest day at Chunbu Kharka:
Today, we may have a well-earned rest day, though for those feeling fit, there is a rewarding walk up to a hanging corrie lake behind the camp. This has good views and helps aid acclimatization. Today is also a good day for putting in an equipment check session - boots and crampons, harness and knots.

Day 9: Descent into the Hinku Valley - Khote (3,550m)
We set off from Chunbu Kharka and climb steeply uphill for 20 minutes or so, before contouring around high above the Hinku Valley. We then make a series of steep descents through scree and then rhododendron to eventually arrive on the valley floor, where we cross to the west bank of Hinku River by a wooden bridge at Khote (3,550m). We'll have had lunch in the forest, during our descent. Khote is now quite a large settlement of lodges that have been built over the past 10 years. We camp on a pleasant grassy patch not far from the river.

Day 10: Khote - Tangnag (4,360m):
Today, we follow the west bank of the riverbed up the valley to Tangnag (4,360m). A magnificent, towering mountain, known by its survey name of Peak 39 or on some maps, "Kayashar ", dominates the head of the valley. The trail leads steadily up the side of the valley through open pasture, used for the summer grazing of yaks brought up from the lower reaches of the valley. Finally, we reach Tangnag, which has grown into a small hamlet of tea-shops and lodges since expeditions first started to frequent this region of Nepal.

Day 11: Tangnag - Dig Kharka (4,650m):
We now walk towards the mountain as the trail swings to the east. We gain height gradually until we find ourselves at Dig Kharka (4,650m), close to the foot of the Hinku Nup Glacier. This is a pleasant, grassy camp in an impressive situation.

Day 12: Dig Kharka - Khare (5,100m):
Depending on how the team is acclimatizing, we can spend another night at Dig Kharka, though normally we would head up to Khare (5,100m) today. From Khare, it is possible to do a glacier session to ensure that everyone is happy with the use of ropes and crampons. The views of Mera from our breakfast table at Khare are particularly stunning.

Day 13: Khare - Mera Peak base camp (5,300m)
Today we climb up to the Mera La (5,400m). This is an exciting day as we climb onto the Mera Glacier and follow it to the pass. This is in a superb high mountain setting and is a worthwhile objective in itself. We establish our base camp on the far side of the pass, so as to avoid sleeping on ice. The descent from the pass to the campsite is very short and can be done easily using the margin between the moraine and the glacier on its northern side as it descends from the col.

Day 14: Acclimatisation at Mera Peak base camp:
This is another acclimatization day (at 5,300m), in final preparation for the climb tomorrow. Not only do we acclimatize further, we use the day to best advantage with another snow and ice training session on the snout of the glacier that descends from the Mera La. This "ecole de glace" provides essential skills training in the use of fixed ropes, which will be particularly useful later on when we cross the Amphu Labtsa and climb Island Peak.

Day 15: Move to high camp (5,800m):
Today, we make the climb to the high camp. This is located at about 5,800 meters on the Northern slopes of the upper mountain. It provides an excellent launch pad for the final climb to the summit. There is no need to make an early start but we must get our equipment ready so that the Sherpas can help with carrying this and the camp stores to the high camp. Having gained the Mera La, the route turns left (south) and follows easy angled snow slopes. After a short distance an area of crevasses is reached. Under normal conditions these can be walked around very easily, although looking into their deep, dark depths is always impressive. The crevasses soon give way to slightly steeper but open snow slopes that lead without difficulty to the high camp. This camp is in an excellent setting with wonderful views of Everest, Makalu and the Nuptse, Lhotse wall directly ahead. The setting sun casts an unbelievably magic light on these awesome mountains.

Day 16: Mera Peak Ascent (6,654m):
The climb to the summit of Mera starts gradually and much will depend on snow and general weather conditions. The central summit will soon appear above the head of a wide glacier flanked by two ridges. We climb the centre of this over open snowfields and avoiding crevasses. The route then swings south-east, skirting below and to the east of the left-hand ridge before turning back rightwards towards the main summit ridge of Mera. Mera actually has three summits; the highest is our objective. We reach this by following a classic snow-ridge to just below the final wall that guards the top. This short steep snow slope is easily climbed but there is a big effort required to climb this last 50 meters. Our reward, however, is a feeling of ecstatic jubilation as we survey the magnificent panorama from the top. After taking pictures and enjoying the view, we descend by the same route back to our campsite below the Mera La, or even further into the Hongu Valley.

Day 17: Descend into the Hongu Valley
From the Mera La we descend into the Hongu Valley. After about 3 hours we stop for lunch by a lake and then continue to the Hongu River, which we follow for another 3 hours to yet another spectacular campsite by the 'White Lake' (c5,000m) near Chamlang.

Day 18: Trek up the Hongu Valley
We venture further up this spectacular high-altitude valley, following the bank of the Hongu River. Directly ahead, is the Amphu Labtsa, with Lhotse and the Everest group beyond and Ama Dablam just to the left. From our campsite we have an excellent view of the Amphu Labtsa and are completely encircled by beautiful mountains. Altitude: c5,300m.

Day 19: Camp below the Amphu Labtsa:
The camp below the Amphu Labtsa is at about 5,500m. We have a relaxed afternoon as our Sherpa team prepares the route over the pass.

Day 20: The Amphu Labtsa (5,780m):
This is the most involved and serious mountaineering day of the trip. The approach to the pass is over glacier and around stunning ice flutings and formations and presents no real difficulty at first. Then steeper sections (40°) lead up to the top of the ridge where incredible views across to Island Peak and Lhotse can be enjoyed. The descent down the opposite side into the Imja Valley should not be underestimated and is the reason why only mountaineers should join this expedition. A steep descent (with one short abseil) on snow, ice, rock and scree (depending on the conditions) will be safeguarded by approximately 250 metres of fixed ropes, until easier ground is reached. A loose path is followed into the valley below. Looking behind, you won't believe where you have come from! A pleasant path now descends a moraine ridge curving leftwards by the side of the Imja Glacier. We camp by a stream near the snout of the Imja Glacier at c5,000m.

Day 21: Rest day at Island Peak base camp (5,000m)
Having crossed the Amphu Labtsa, we have a well-earned rest day today, in order to prepare for Island Peak. If the team are feeling good, it would be possible to move onto the mountain today, in order to add a day's buffer in case of bad weather on the scheduled summit day.

Day 22: Move to Island Peak high camp (5,600m):
We will now move to Island Peak high camp (5,600m) from where we will climb the mountain. The path leads up beyond base camp for several hundred meters before striking off left up the steep hillside. Initially sandy, the path soon turns to grass before becoming boulder strewn. As we climb the hill, we will see that the slope narrows and the path enters a steep rock gully. We will camp just below the gully on the left.

Day 23: Island Peak Ascent (6,160m):
Our first task, early in the morning, will be to climb the rock gully. This is not difficult (grade 1 scrambling) but there are several short rock steps to climb before we emerge on the right side of the gully. The route then follows a ridge line, which leads to an exhilarating and exposed traverse onto the snout of the summit glacier. We will need to rope up for the glacier as it contains several crevasses but it leads without difficulty, to a 350ft/100m snow and ice slope (40-45°) on which the guides will fix a rope. From the top of this slope, 3 rope lengths along a sharp summit ridge lead to the top. After enjoying the summit views we will descend all the way to our base camp.

Day 24: Spare summit day
We include a spare day for climbing Island Peak, in case of bad weather. Hence to come all this way and miss out on the summit for the sake of one extra day would be very frustrating!

Day 25: Trek to Deboche (3,700m)
Following a gradually improving path, we lead down the Imja Valley and past the first of many welcoming tea-houses at Chukhung. We stop at Dingboche for lunch, a charming Sherpa village close to where the Imja Valley joins the main Everest trail, before continuing through Pangboche (nestled below Ama Dablam), to Deboche (3,700m).

Day 26: Trek to Namche Bazaar (3,400m):
In the morning, we re-cross the river before climbing to the famous monastery at Thyangboche (3,860m). It now has a brand new monastery, the largest in the area, as the old one was destroyed by fire a few years ago. Built in the traditional style, with its gleaming copper roofs, it is as grand as ever. A steep descent from Pangboche of around 1500ft/500m leads through bird filled rhododendron bushes and fir trees to the Dudh Kosi River. Crossing this on yet another suspension bridge, we climb up the opposite side of the valley to reach the contouring path leading back to Namche Bazaar. Namche is the perfect place to enjoy some well deserved celebrations!

Day 27: Trek to Lukla (2,840m):
A steep descent for 2,000ft/600m leads to the suspension bridge crossing the Dudh Koshi River. We cross the river twice more before traversing steadily up the hill-side, past numerous shops and tea-houses to Lukla. It will seem much longer than 3 weeks since we were last here! We say goodbye to our support crew in traditional style.

Day 28: Lukla – Kathmandu
Taking a morning flight to Kathmandu, we will have plenty of time after lunch for further sightseeing or shopping. Hotel.

Day 29: A day in Kathmandu, with a guided sightseeing tour of the city's main remaining attractions which were not covered during our initial sightseeing. This will include visits to Pathan and Bhaktapur followed by farewell dinner in the evening hosted by Makalu Adventure. Overnight at Thamel Eco Resort

Day 30: Final departure.

Should you prefer a different route or itinerary for this program, just let us know your interests and we will be more than happy to craft a tailor made trip for you in line with your specific preference.

Trip Cost Includes
  • All ground transfers as per our itinerary.
  • Thamel Eco resort Hotel in Kathmandu (including breakfast and all taxes).
  • Guided sightseeing in Kathmandu (including all entrance fees).
  • Welcome Dinner with Live Nepali Program hosted by Makalu Adventures.
  • Climbing Permit Fees for Mera and Island peaks.
  • National Park Permit Fees (including all other entrance fees wherever applicable)
  • Mountain guide for climbing support (including his daily wages and insurance).
  • Airfare: Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu.
  • Fully organized camping trek arrangement (best camping equipments, tents, mattresses & etc)
  • Guide, cook, kitchen helper/porters - with their daily wages, insurance, foods and other expenses occurring in connection of this trip.
  • Everyday three times meals on trek, prepared by our very professional kitchen crew.

For Lodge-to-Lodge Trek (if and where applicable):

  • Accommodation and foods as available on the local lodges on the way while trekking.
Trip Cost Excludes
  • Nepal visa fee.
  • Airport taxes.
  • International airfare to and from Kathmandu.
  • Excess baggage charges.
  • Lunch and evening meals in Kathmandu.
  • Extra night accommodation.
  • Travel and rescue insurance.
  • Personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, bar bills, battery recharge, extra porters, bottle or boiled water, showers etc).
  • Helicopter rescue and evacuation if required.
  • Tips and gratitude

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