Having arrived in Tangnag, we had 2 nights to acclimatise at 4200m- essential to prepare us for the dizzy heights of high camp and the summit. I think in the previous blog, I referred to this as ‘rest days’, but I retract this, we did not simply rest. In order to help acclimatise more we walked up a ‘hill’ behind the teahouse, and sat relaxing at 4700m. This served to expose us to higher altitudes before descending again to recover. The high altitude was starting to take its toll on some by varying degrees. All were feeling the thinner air, and had to take the the climbs slowly; some were struggling to sleep as oxygen alluded them in the night. However by the 2nd night at Tangnag most had adjusted and enjoyed a better nights sleep.
The extra day at Tangnag also gave us the opportunity to do some washing. For those who decided to do this first thing in the morning before the walk, it did not end well. Still below freezing, they cleaned their smalls in the stream and putting them to one side were shocked to see them freeze onto the rock. Having managed to peel them off the rock, they were hung on a rudimentary washing line where icicles started to form off the bottom of the clothes. It was many hours before the sun came round to thaw them back out.
Clothes washed, acclimatised and refreshed we moved on up the valley to Khare at 4800m. Again we were slow going so as not to exert ourselves too much in the thin air and of course to give us time to stop and admire the views! We had heard about a legendary German Bakery in Khare where they sold proper coffee and we were not disappointed. With 2 days in Khare this was a luxury we had plenty of time to enjoy, but again we weren’t just resting. On arrival we climbed a few 100m above the village in order to sleep lower than our overall height gain. On the second day we conducted some rope practice on a slope behind the teahouse. We jumared up and abseiled down, refreshing the skills we had learnt so long ago in Scotland. As it happened, this practise was not necessary as the glacier and snow fall on Mera Peak this season was such that fixed ropes were not required, however it passed the time in Khare.
All that was left then was to prepare our bags for moving up to the glacier and the impending summit attempt. We would only take 1 large bag between tent pairings in order to spare the porters at higher altitude, which was fine as we were wearing most of our kit by this point. So with kit bags packed and a degree of excitement and trepidation, we started up the moraine to the glacier. On reaching the snow, we changed into our high altitude boots and crampons, donned our harnesses and roped together into teams of 3. So after 9 months of training and 10 days of trekking we took our first steps onto the glacier…