Mera Peak - Day 2 Pangkongma

My number 1 tip if you're doing an altitude walk in the Himalayas is hire a sleeping bag rather than bring your own. The ones you get with Exodus are by all accounts excellent and cost £25 for the 17 day trek.  You can hire them at Shona's in Kathmandu for even less.  I've got a four season sleeping bag with a fleece liner which theoretically should be warm enough but isn't.  I'm already feeling the cold and last night was only 2,900 metres - seriously worrying.  If I had hired one I would also have had far more room in by bag to take home loads of goodies from Kathmandu - yak blankets and things - and my previous storage space at home wouldn't be filled up with hanging sleeping bags. 

Campsite view
Creative use of a tyre
Don't mind me
Anyway at least we saw some sun this morning, nice weather until about 2 in the afternoon, when the cloud and haze finally obscure the views. 

The route continues to head south high up above the valley and the River Bhote Kushi Nadi.  We are crossing smaller valleys draining into the main valley so there's a lot of ascent and descent. After a couple of hours we leave the main trail which goes to and from Namche Bazaar and head east along a quieter but still well used path.  Its all very steep tough walking.

Near Chutok La
We are on the upper edge of the agricultural area with huge areas of well used and well maintained terracing extending below.  Because we are on the upper edge we are not seeing huge numbers of locals and today we have seen only one other trekker, it all makes a nice change from the crowds on the Annapurna Circuit.

Jangbu with some locals
The camp tonight is at similar height to last nights although I suspect crossing the side valleys has involved something like 1,000 metres of climb and descent.  We are still walking through rododendron forests although they don't seem quite as far on as they were in Annapurna. The magnolias on the other hand are incredible.

We were introduced to the whole support team last night. Counting Jangbu we have four guides, and I think all of them will be coming up Mera with us. Lakpa, the climbing guide has been up Mera 14 times.  In total the support team includes 19 people although to be honest I can't quite figure out what they all do. The whole thing feels like a real expedition, 19 people working to get 7 people to the top of a mountain.

Small postscript on yesterday's Lukla flight. We were the second to last flight to get in, the other Exodus party, which was supposed to come in 30 minutes or so after us didn't make it until this afternoon. Quite a lot of our gear is still in Kathmandu although everyone seems very confident that it will somehow catch us up.

All in all a good day, feeling fit and gaining confidence all the time.

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