I made it to the top of Mera Peak (6476m) and Steffi got to 6300m. Magic views, as Charles promised.
The Amphu Lapsta pass was hard – clipping/unclipping on fixed lines, abseiling / lowered over a huge rock outcrop – with lots of the snow/glacier had gone on both sides, making it harder. A sheer drop down from the precipitous pass (5845m) down into the valley, 600m below.
Too tired to attempt Island Peak. Also that’s become far more technical with snow / ice loss too.
BIG congrats to Nicola for managing all three.
It was the hardest trip I’ve done – eight days / nights over 5000m, including Mera Peak High Camp 5800m and Amphu Lapsta Base Camp 5600m. Walking out was 4 l-o-n-g days too. One evening we ended up doing the last hour in the dark, with head torches. Uphill, OF COURSE!!!
Very, very pleased I was able to get to the top of Mera, but Amphu Lapsta was a whole heap more complicated than anyone anticipated. I loved working with crampons, ice axes and ropes. Could do with more practice abseiling mind you!
(Am I allowed to call it A Climb? An Expedition? It feels more than a simple trek, and definitely represents a step up from previous trips. About 800m up from my previous high point – the Drölma La on the Mt Kailash Kora. And that didn’t require anything more than a daypack for 4 days. But I digress.)
Here’s a summary of the itinerary we got from Val back in January. I’m not sure how it will spread out over the 27 days we have between leaving Kathmandu for Paphlu and returning to Kathmandu. The Trakshindo to Kharikhola section is familiar from 2011 and 2016, as is Chukhung to Namche (2011), and Namche to Lukla (both trips).
Drive to to Paphlu (2500m) (9-10 hours). If we arrive early enough, trek to Trakshindo, otherwise stay in Phaplu.
Trek to Kharikhola (2069m) or Nuntala (2200m) depending on where we camp previous night, via the Trakshindo La pass (3071m) and we will drop some solar lights at one of the communities on the way.
Trek to Pangkongma / Pangom (2850m) little settlement above Kharikhola where we camp near the Gompa.
Depending on how everyone is doing I have 2 routes for days 5 & 6: Option A
– Trek to Ning So (2850m) via Pangkongma La (3174m), steep descent to the village of Sibuje (2770 m) then undulating trail through the forested river valley to Ning So (2850m).
– Trek to ‘Jungle Camp’ (3160m) via a tea house at 3280 m and high point of the day at 3350 m. Steep descent back to the river. After lunch undulations through the forest with some steep sections of trail to ‘Jungle Camp’ (3160m). Option B: Trek via Nashing Dingma, Chlum Kharak and Chumbu Kharaka
Trek to Gotay (3600m) following the Hinku Khola
Trek to Tagnag / Thangnag (4350m) beside the Hinku River to the small gompa at Gondishung. From the gompa it is an hour’s walk over moraines to the Yak herders settlement of Tagnag.
Acclimatisation day at Tagnag / Thangnag. Day trip up towards the moraines below Kusum Kanguru (6367 m). Practise with ropes and harnesses and crampons after lunch.
Trek beside the Dig Glacier to Khare (5000m).
Acclimatisation day and skills training, with more practice techniques and safety procedures to be used on our climbs.
Climb to the Mera La (5415m). Overnight at Val’s Mera La camp.
Climb easy snow slopes on Mera Peak to a high camp (5800m).
Climb easy-angled snow slopes and short steeper section to Mera Peak central summit (6476m) or north summit. Long descent to Mera La (5415m) and on down to Khare (5000m).
We have some spare days and depending on weather we may take a day after the climb resting before heading up the Hongu Valley.
We spend the next few days trekking up the Hongu Valley via a few camps (1) one very close to Chamlung BC (2) another one close to Baruntse and (3) a further one situated below Amphu Lapsta.
Cross Amphu Lapsta and descend into the Imjatse valley opposite Imja Tse / Island Peak. Camp Island Peak BC.
2020 is going to be a rather different year as Phil and I are moving to Herefordshire in January to try out the country life (but not Country Life). I’m still aiming to get a few trips in, but living in Herefordshire opens up a whole new world of walking opportunities, and travelling further afield means getting to grips with regional flights or factoring in a 3 hour plus train journey to/from London.
Trip No. 1 of 2020: Relocating to Herefordshire
Destination:Abbey Dore, a hamlet half way between Hereford and Abergavenny.
When: January – June 2020, possibly long term. We’ll see how it goes.
What: Living in rural Herefordshire, with Phil. Working remotely for LW (I got the official approval this week).
How: With the cooperation of family, friends and work.
Why: I’ve spent a lot of my life in Herefordshire, whilst growing up in Solihull, studying at St Andrews and Chester, and working in London. We’ve had a holiday home there since I was tiny, which is where Phil and I will be based, and dad and Jean live half an hour’s drive away.
I’m ready to spend some time living in a green world rather than a grey one, with space to grow things and to make and store things. The preserving pan and sewing machine will be coming with us.
“But why leave London?” I hear you ask –
“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson
Well, I am somewhat tired of London.
I love the fact that everything is on the doorstep, from shops to cinemas to museums, that I have family and friends within easy reach, that every Wednesday I can meet friends for wine and pizza, and that trains and flights offer a boundless choice of destinations near and far.
But I don’t love the noise, the early morning dustbin lorries and delivery vans announcing to all and sundry that they are reversing or turning left, the late night drunken revellers shouting and singing as they try to navigate the residential back streets of the Barbican, the police helicopters hovering over possible crime scenes in the middle of the night or monitoring protests and public gatherings during the day. The construction sites, providing relentless background noise of jackhammers and power tools at play, for new luxury developments in place of buildings with civic and social worth, signifying the Corporation of London’s distain for its residential communities and neighbours.