Tuesday 15 December 2009

Mera Peak, 18th October 2009, summit day.

Summit day started at 01:30 when we heard the sound of the massive primus stoves in the cook tent being fired up. Outside it was pitch black and bitterly cold with a light wind blowing as we all struggled out of our sleeping bags to get ready to depart high camp at 02:00.

No-one had slept well - if at all! A number of people had been suffering from Cheyne Stokes (crescendo) breathing - a common problem at high altitude and one member of our team felt unwell and decided not to depart for the summit.

Leaving at around 02:15, wearing helmets, harnesses and being roped up for glacier travel, the group set off in the darkness. After a while, two members started to suffer from very cold feet -one sufficiently so that it was decided he should return to high camp accompanied by Kami - our mountain guide.

The picture here shows Doc (one of Iain's team) and was taken around 07:00 as it was getting light and we were getting towards to top of the north slope of Mera towards the central Summit.

As we got on to the summit plateau we found a strong and extremely cold wind was blowing from the south and this was picking up snow and ice and throwing it in people's faces.

This can be seen here. In the background can be seen Makalu (left centre) and Baruntse (right centre).

By now, everyone was feeling the effects of the rarified atmosphere at this altitude and were moving very slowly indeed. Also, due to the extreme cold, members of the team were starting to experience problems with camera batteries fading.

This picture was taken just before Iain's camera ceased working due to the cold. In the background can be seen the central summit of Mera (6461M).

Most people stopped for a rest here before following the others in the picture towards a crevasse which just separated us from the summit but which was not, actually, technically difficult to surmount.

Once on the central summit, a few members made it on to the North Summit (6476M) the rest deciding enough was enough and starting the descent back to high camp.

Having taken 6 hours to reach the summit, the return to High Camp took less than 2 hours. Here everyone helped the porters to pack up our tents before we all continued on our way back to Khare.

This picture was taken on the Mera La at about mid-day and as you can see the weather was fantastic - actually calm & warm where the picture was taken - compared with the wind and extreme cold experienced just over 1000M above.

Most of the team arrived at Khare by 14:00 and here we stayed for one last night before departing on the trek back to Lukla.

1 comment:

Woodland Solutions said...

I am very, very jealous Mr Gallagher !