Mera Peak is found a little to the East of the main Khumbu in Nepal on a far less frequented trail.
The summit offers one of the most outstanding views in the Himalayas from where you can see five out of the six tallest mountains in the world (Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyo, Makalu and Kanchenjunga).
The region was first explored by British expeditions in the early 1950s around the time of the first successful Everest summit.
Mera is designated by the Nepal Mountaineering Association as a trekking peak. This means that it can be attempted without prior roped climbing experience. However it still requires the use of an ice axe and crampons.
The term ‘trekking peak‘ gives the impression that Mera Peak is not difficult, but at 6,476 metres that is not true.
It is the highest trekking peak in Nepal and brings all the challenges of trekking at high altitudes, including extreme weather conditions and altitude sickness.
At this altitude the oxygen content of air is less than half of what it is at sea level. That said, it is a great climbing expedition suitable for those looking for their first experience mountaineering in the Himalaya.
Mera requires little or no technical climbing on its normal route, just basic mountaineering skills to tackle the high altitude glacier crossings.
The early days of the route are quiet – hiking through an area that is terraced and heavily farmed. It then pushes onwards through bamboo and rhododendron jungle, up the Arun Valley past the tree line to Khote.
After Khare trekkers must don their crampons and take up their harnesses and ice axes to head over the glacier to Mera La Camp.
Summiting is tough work and involves some rope work but the summit is worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.
- Summit views of Everest and Lhotse.
- One of the few big Himalayan trekking peaks.
- Varied hikethrough lush valleys, local villages, rhododendron forests, past lakes and rivers, then up a snowy summit.
- Summit ascent starts in the dark, meaning you get to watch the sun rise over mountain peaks.
The nearest international airport is Kathmandu, which runs regular flights via Bangkok, Doha, Hong Kong, Singapore and Delhi, and also onward to Europe. From here, regular (albeit tiny) flights run to and from Lukla.
Lukla is the single gateway to climb Mera peak. If you’re lucky and the weather is clear during your flight, you may be able to see Everest in the distance.
It is renowned as being one of the most dangerous airports in the world (though recently much improved) and if you simply can’t face the flight, it is also possible to reach Lukla overland following a bus or taxi ride to Jiri and a seven-day trek.
A typical Mera Peak trek will last between 15 and 17 days, two of which involve some degree of climbing.
The entire route works out a little over 100 kilometres for a round trip to/from Lukla. The shortest day, which involves moving towards the summit, is only a couple of kilometres and the longest day is just over 10 kilometres.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
Mera Peak is considered a trekking peak, meaning that you can reach this peak on foot. Although summiting Mera is no mean feat, it’s not really mountaineering either.
That said, it is still a Himalayan six-thousander and has a long summit day during which you are open to the elements.
Once on the mountain itself there is some short sections of scrambling over loose rock to below the snow line. Once on the snow, conditions vary massively depending on the season and day’s weather. The route is normally well marked and paths well-trodden.
The terrain requires no technical climbing but roping is sometimes required.
There is no particular point that is notably difficult but the summit night climb up the glacier is an arduous slog that lasts up to six hours. Weather can be variable and crevasse danger exists above Mera High Camp.
If you have already done a high altitude trek and coped well, then Mera is the perfect next adventure.
The extreme altitude does mean that no matter how fit you are, climbing Mera Peak will be a tough challenge. The challenge is very much about stamina and endurance though, as no technical skills are needed to complete the climb.
It is a popular option with climbing beginners and serves as a preparation for higher mountains such as Everest. Although it requires relatively little technique, it is still physically demanding and needs the use of winter skills and equipment (predominantly axe and crampons) when on the snow.
Most guided tours offer a crash course in high altitude mountaineering once on the trek.
If you are physically strong and have already climbed Kilimanjaro or a base camp trek then this is a great next step.
Mera should not be attempted unless you have previously been to altitudes of 4,000 metres or more without any issues.
On top of that, it is worth doing a couple of practise treks where you will get to walk in crampons, just so your legs get used to it.
The degree of difficulty will vary from person to person depending on their ability to acclimatise and maintain physical conditioning.
Even if you have plenty of snow climbing experience and are physically fit, the altitude can play a major role in whether you make it to the top or not.
The key to a successful climb is an excellent acclimatisation schedule and a positive mental attitude when things get tough.
Try camping and training in all sorts of weather and be serious about your physical preparation.
The first permit you’ll need is TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System). All treks of any length require one and they cost 2000 Nepalese rupees ($17 USD/ £12.50).
Alternatively, your trekking company arranges you a location permit on arrivak in Lukla, which costs around $20 USD.
A climbing permit is required to trek and climb Mera Peak. These can be secured through the Nepal Ministry of Tourism (usually by your tour company) and prices vary depending on the season (peak or off-peak).
You will need a permit to enter the Sagarmatha National Park as well. Although it might be tempting, don’t try to skimp on getting the right permits.
On the route, there are which you won’t be allowed through without a copy of your documentation. On top of that, some of the money is reinvested into the environment and local infrastructure.
You will also need to purchase a Single Entry Visa to enter Nepal, which costs $40 USD/ £30 per visa and is valid for 60 days. This can be organised on arrival at any Nepalese border point or at the International Airport in Kathmandu.
Guided or Self-Guided
For Himalayan peaks we would recommend always going with a qualified guide – either in a private trek or as part of a larger group.
Only the most experienced hikers and climbers should attempt to summit Mera Peak on a self-organised expedition.
Guides tend to be ultra-experienced Sherpas who have done this route dozens of time. Many of them will have scaled other peaks including Everest and know the mountains like the back of their hand.
Tours usually include gear rental, food and drink throughout the trek and a ratio of two or three climbers to one guide.
Agencies generally run tours pre-monsoon (late April to mid May) and post-monsoon (late September to mid October) to get the best conditions and treks cost in the region of $5,800 USD per person (£4,350).
If you do choose to organise your own trip, make sure you are well-versed in changing mountain conditions and route alternatives, as well as mountaineering skills.
There are enough villages with guest houses along the way but be prepared to be self-sufficient (providing your own food and shelter) in the event that you arrive in a village and there is no room at a guest house.
As with most Himalayan treks and climbs, pre- and post-monsoon are the best windows for climbing, for obvious reasons. Spring is particularly popular as it gets warmer every day with lesser threats of snow.
The best months to climb are April, May, late September and October. Trekking/ climbing during the best seasons means you won’t have to suffer the biting cold.
If you want to experience the mountain at its quietest you can also climb Mera Peak when it’s monsoon season. This will bring its own excitement and atmosphere for hikers, but little assurance about the weather conditions.
As always, we would recommend choosing an itinerary that has acclimatisation days.
As such, below is an overview of a typical 16-day Mera Peak trek:
Day 1 – Fly to Lukla and Trek to Paiya (Sleeping at 2,730m)
Brave the short flight to Lukla and be rewarded with unbelievable views. On arrival, you’ll meet your local Sherpas, fuel up with a hearty meal and trek north for four hours to Paiya.
Day 2 – Trek to Panguam (Sleeping at 2,850m)
Following the main trail for six hours through various local villages, you’ll reach Panguam. Here you will sleep in a local lodge.
Day 3 – Trek to Nagindingma (Sleeping at 2,650m)
A short-ish day of trekking involves a four or five hour downhill trek to Nagindingma, where you can explore the vicinity and rest up for a big day tomorrow.
Day 4 – Trek to Cholem Kharka (Sleeping at 3,350m)
Today involves a bit of rocky uphill and is one of the more physically demanding and exhausting days. The trek will take up to eight hours depending on your group speed.
Day 5 – Trek to Khola Kharka (Sleeping at 3,930m)
Another rocky uphill day with seven hours of trekking alongside rivers, meadows and through forests.
Day 6 – Trek to Kothe (Sleeping at 4,180m)
Six hours through Himalayan villages takes you towards Kothe, with plenty of stunning panoramas to keep you motivated.
Day 7 – Trek to Thaknak (Sleeping at 4,350m)
More uphill towards Thaknak but only around three to four hours in total. From the village there are views of the guarding snowy peaks.
Day 8 – Trek to Khare (Sleeping at 5,045m)
Following the main trail for three hours your group will arrive in Khare, where the altitude will start to take your breath away as much as the views.
Day 9 – Rest and acclimatisation in Khare
The entire day is spent in Khare, acclimatising to the altitude with short walks, local exploration and interacting with the locals to get a true taste of life in the Himalayas.
Day 10 – Khare to Mera Base Camp (Sleeping at 5,300m)
Four hours of walking will take you to Mera Base Camp, where you can start to take in the scale of the peak. The night will be spent in a camp tent.
Day 11 – Mera Base Camp to High Camp (Sleeping at 5,780m)
Five hours of challenging walking takes you uphill through snowy and rocky terrains for another night camping and preparing for the big day.
Day 12 – Mera High Camp to Mera Summit and back to Khare
The biggest day and highlight of the trek involves a tough push upwards to the peak. Starting in the early hours you’ll be rewarded by sun breaking over the tops of surrounding mountains and the views from the top are just outstanding.
After a short while at the top, you will descend downhill to Base Camp and then onwards to Khare.
Day 13 – Trek from Khare to Kothe
A five-hour trek back to Kothe will seem like a walk in the park as oxygen levels start to climb again, with plenty of downhill. The night is spent in a local guest house.
Day 14 – Kothe to Chetwarwa (Sleeping at 3,580m)
Six hours of walking will take you back down to Chetwarwa for your second to final night of the trek. In the village you will have time to explore the local vicinity and witness the life of rural people.
Day 15 – Chetarwa to Lukla
From Chetarwa the home straight back to Lukla takes around seven hours, at which point you have officially completed the Mera Peak loop. You’ll spend the night in a local tea house, toasting the journey with your Sherpas.
Day 16 – Fly back to Kathmandu
Bid farewell to your local porters and be sure to get a seat on the right side of the plane to see off the snowy mountains.
Some trips are two or three days shorter than the above itinerary.
This is because from Lukla they head straight over Zatwa La. Although it saves time, it takes trekkers straight up to 4,500 metres, increasing the likelihood of suffering severe altitude sickness.
On the flip side, some trips take up to 23 days, building in at least one contingency day, as well as additional rest and acclimatisation days, plus fixed ropes and crampon training days.
Accommodation on the trek is mainly in comfortable lodges or tea houses run by local families.
Tea houses are small hotels known locally as Bhatti. A certain level of comfort is guaranteed but the name hotel is not what you might expect in western countries.
Meals are home-cooked and flushing toilets are not a given. Tea houses are simply locals’ houses that have been opened up to accommodate trekkers passing by.
The use of amenities such as hot water or (very slow) wifi comes at an extra charge.
Before the summit bid you will be staying at Base Camp and High Camp, which are fully supported camping setups with all meals provided.
At the camps, mountain tents are of a professional climbing standard and are usually two people per tent. Trekkers must carry a four-season sleeping bag and good quality sleeping mat.
Lower down the sleeping bag won’t get much use (or it will at least be unzipped) but it’s well worth packing a sleeping bag liner as blankets can be scratchy.
You’ll find that menus are limited by availability and the remoteness of the region but food is generally pretty good, with a mixture of local Nepali / Sherpa food (think delicious dal bhat with rice) and western recipes (burgers and chips followed by a deep-fried Mars Bar are not at all uncommon – particularly in Lukla).
Kathmandu is set in a valley surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. On a clear day you can see the outlines of peaks all around.
Nepal’s capital city is hectic and incredibly dusty but lively and fun. Just note that legitimate and fake camping gear are found intermixed throughout the city’s shops.
From world heritage sites and temples, to museums, shopping malls and farmers markets, Kathmandu is the perfect place to understand and enjoy the Nepalese way of life.
At the heart of the old city is Durbar Square, filled with ancient temples and palaces. Sadly many of the city’s historic sites were damaged or destroyed by the 2015 earthquake but are in the process of being rebuilt.
A visit to the area requires a permit costing 1000 Nepalese rupees for one day.
All of the city’s temples are impressive in their own way but Swayambhunath, also known as Monkey Temple, is a UNESCO world heritage site.
From the Stupa, one can see the entire Kathmandu valley and surroundings, and hundreds of colourful prayer flags flutter in the wind.
Take some time out from the capital in beautiful Pokhara. This lakeside gem is likened to Kathmandu but is a whole lot calmer and the air is much clearer.
Numerous treks – ranging from a few days to a few weeks – start/finish here but it is a destination in its own right.
Visit Sarangkot for sunrise over the Himalayas or try paragliding over the lake and mountains.
Before heading back to the city to catch your flight home, stop off in Bandipur – an absolute haven in the hills that lies halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara, with a pedestrianised main street that resembles a quaint French or Italian town.
Dine on momos (vegetarian or meat dumplings similar to Asian gyozas) for next to nothing and sip on a cold beer as you reflect on your trip.
Charlotte walks anywhere and everywhere she can. Although she hasn’t ticked off as many official routes as she’d like, she has walked her way around large parts of Latin America, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Bucket list routes:
|Skills Required||Hiking, Mountaineering|
|Starts at||Lukla Airport, Lukla - Everest Base Camp Trekking Route, Chaurikharka, Nepal|
|Finishes at||Lukla, Chaurikharka, Nepal|
|Length of route||101.5 Km|
|Average time to complete||15 - 17 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||No|
|Highest point||6476 metres|
|Equipment needed||Crampons and ice picks (if completed outside summer months), Harness & ropes, Professional mountaineering gear, Specialist climbing gear, Trekking gear, walking boots|