Trying to describe my planned expedition to climb Mera Peak to family and friends had met with mostly blank faces and noises of ‘good luck’ and ‘enjoy your holiday’. However, when I mentioned I would be flying into Lukla airport, then friends were actually concerned. Its fair to say most of them didn’t really understand the expedition!
Flying into the mountain airport at Lukla, dubbed the most dangerous airport in the world, was certainly a thrill, and it’s easy to see why the short runway is uphill as it comes to an abrupt end with a cliff. I felt like clapping when we landed!
I knew trekking in winter would mean it would be quieter and that was certainly the appeal, but I was surprise to find the 20 seater twin otter plane wasn’t full as we departed Kathmandu. Lukla also felt like a ghost town when we arrived – so much so we had a little coffee shop to ourselves for hours. Lukla seems to have faired well in the earthquake with only a few buildings damaged, and I guess a lot of work has taken place to ensure it is operation for tourists, being so dependant on the trekking industry.
At 2800m high it was already feeling pretty cold at night even in Lukla, so it was nice to head out on our first day on the trek to Mera Peak in glorious sunshine. Long may it last!
The route to Chutanga was a nice wander through woodland and scrub, crossing rivers on rickety bridges and passing a few farms. These would be the last genuine settlements in the route to Mera Peak.
By the time we arrived at Chutanga at 1pm the mist and cold was already rolling in and we huddled in the main lodge room around the little stove for warmth. At 3450m I’m surprised I can already feel the altitude as I walk around and the need to be drinking 3-4 litres of water a day is increasingly important – even if it tastes smoky from the wood-burning fires.
We had a relaxing evening reading, drinking and eating before heading off to our little rooms for an early night in our sleeping bags. I’m very grateful I’ve brought two nalgene style bottles as they function as great hot water bottles – which is good as its already minus 10 degrees!