Mt. Baruntse (7,129m.) and Mera Peak Expeditions
In the South-East corner of the Everest National Park, between the massive peaks of Lhotse and Makalu, sits the rarely climbed Mt. Baruntse. At 7129m it is considered a semi-technical mountain but the extreme altitude and several exposed pitches near the summit will make this a very challenging climbing expedition. Raj Bala Treks & Expedition have put together an exciting itinerary which includes an acclimatisation climb on Mera Peak before crossing over into the remote Honku Valley and an attempt on our main objective; Baruntse. The generous itinerary gives us plenty of time for multiple attempts before we exit back to Lukla and Kathmandu via the difficult and impressive Amphu Laptsa Pass.

 

Trip Highlights

  • Climb Baruntse & Mera Peak on a fully supported
  • Expedition including all meals on trek and above base camp
  • Sherpa Culture
  • Namche Bazaar & Thyangboche Monastery
  • Himalayan Mountain flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and return
Fast Facts:
  • Trip Duration: 28 days
  • Grade: Advanced Mountaineering Expedition
  • Activities: Mountaineering, Trekking
  • Accommodation: Hotels in Kathmandu and Camping during trekking and climbing
Expeditions Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive Kathmandu
We will meet you at the Kathmandu International Airport and escort you to the hotel.

Day 02: Gear Check. Rest of day at leisure.
This morning final gear checks will be held and afterwards we will depart for Thamel where any necessary items will be hired, ie plastic boots, or purchased. A group sightseeing tour has been arranged, taking in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. If time does not permit, the tour can be taken after the expedition when there is a full day at leisure in Kathmandu. Notwithstanding,
the hotel is centrally located and a short walk from shops, cafes and other features of interest.

Day 03: Fly to Lukla (2800m) and trek to Puiyan (2800m)
An early start to the airport to catch the 45 minute flight to the STOL airstrip at Lukla. It is a memorable flight, with marvelous views of the Eastern Himalaya. Our crew and porters assemble, loads are sorted and after a cup of tea, we are soon on our way down a trail below the air strip to the river at Surke Khola, which brings us adjacent to the racing glacial waters of the Dudh Kosi. Our
route takes a southerly direction along old trade routes, a trail of farm settlements growing subsistence crops such as millet, corn and buckwheat and then as we trek higher, into stands of oaks, maple and rhododendron.

Day 04: Trek to Pangom (2800m)
We follow the main trail briefly before turning up a path that leads into the forest and traverses around many ridges to the valley of the Kari Khola. Although our camp elevations are similar for the last days, we are undulating over two major ridges, the Chutok La (2945m) and the Khari La (3080m). As we approach Pangum, set in the base of a small bowl like valley immediately below the
Pangum La, we travel through forests of rhododendron, pines and oaks. This is a little known trail used only by the local families and apart from a couple of small settlements along the way we see little evidence of human activity. Pangum is a very old settlement little changed, with a new gompa and expansive views out over the valley.

Day 05: Nashing Dingma (2,600m)
We climb the half hour or so to the Pangum La (3175m) and our gateway toward the Hinku Valley, and now start to head eastward and then in a northerly direction. Today is a solid descent to the Hinku River of at least 900 metres depending on which path we take, and then a climb up to our camp high on the other side near the Surke La. We are once again traveling through a mix of
terraced slopes containing grain crops interspersed by undisturbed forests of the upper temperate zone; maples, rhododendrons and fir.

Day 06: Chalem Kharka (3,600m)
Climbing up to the Surke La (3085m) we now follow the spine of the Surkie Danda ridge northwards towards Mera and the Hinku and camp part way along at a yak herders clearing or 'kharka'. These next few days are far from teahouse and trekkers trails and should be some of the finest Himalayan wilderness trekking of the trip.

Day 07: Chunbu Kharka (4,200m)
Continuing along the ridge, we climb higher and higher over knolls (lumps in the ridge) of 4000 metres and then 4500 metres. The terrain has now elevated well above the tree line and is grassy slopes and rocky outcrops and cliffs, where birds of prey may be seen flying overhead such as Griffon vulture, lammergeier or eagles. We then descend to a camp set near a series of five lakes, Panch Pokhari, set beside the river of the Chunbu Drangka.

Day 08: Rest day at Chunbu Kharka.
This is a good time in the program to have a rest day and a lovely natural setting to explore further.

Day 09: To Hinku valley camp near Kote (approx 3600m)
Our route now contours around many ridges on the eastern side of the Hinku, descending lower into forests of rhododendron and scree. Near the valley floor we encounter the devastation caused by a natural damn at the head of the valley bursting in 1998. The valley has been destroyed, leaving boulders, dead trees and silt where once there were old growth forests and meadows. Our campsite is on a pleasant grassy patch, on the now much higher bank of the rocky riverbed.

Day 10: To Tagnag (4400m)
We are now in the Hinku Valley proper, and cross over by way of a yak herders bridge and join the main trail. The first settlement we pass is the busy village of Kote, primarily servicing the trekking groups that come through for Mera. As a result of the tremendous washout of boulders and debris, the trail follows the riverbed mostly, a good trail among rounded stones and silt. We gain our first
views of dramatic peaks of the valley; Kusum kanguru to our left and an unnamed peak over 6700m that stands directly before us. The path then weaves up on to the pastures on the left hand side and pleasant easy trails through to Tagnag. Today we also enjoy our first views of Mera, initially at the confluence of the Sanu Drangka above Kote, if the weather is clear we see the dramatic south face, and then on our final approach into Tagnag. We are now among mountains and starting to prepare for our climb.

Day 11:
Acclimatisation Day/preparations
Tagnag is a location to have an acclimatisation day and we will prepare and check our climbing gear also. There are many good ridges and slopes to trek up for a few hours and spend valuable time acclimatizing ourselves at these greater heights. We aim to gain at least 500 metres following a ridge behind the village as a side excursion on this day. There are views of peaks towards Kusum
Kanguru and across towards Mera.

Days 12 – 16: To Base Camp (5000m) and summit attempt Mera Peak (6461m)
A steady approx 4hr climb out of the valley and up through lateral moraine and grassy culverts to our last camp below the snowline. Enroute we will be able to glimpse the remains of the Lake (Sabai Tsho) that has caused so much damage. It is directly fed by some massive, almost vertical glaciers and it is suspected that there was an enormous avalanche of ice into the lake, and subsequently, a
wave that broke through the loose rocks forming the wall on it's far side.

A day is set aside for further preparations for the climb, rehearsal of using harness, crampons and axe, and travelling roped up etc. All members will not travel up on to the mountain and glacier without being briefed and skilled beforehand. Whilst the route itself is fairly straightforward, there are objective hazards and good basic technique and awareness of changing conditions is vital for every individual. Your guide will supervise the entire proceedings on the mountain, from the route taken and timings, and equipment required (we only take what we need for the climb, and the rest of your gear remains at base) through to people's fitness (mental and physical) to proceed. This means that the guides decision is final; he or she is responsible for everyone's safety and well being throughout the expedition, and no compromise will be made on these aspects.

All going to plan and the weather on our side, we would move up to a rock and glaciated camp just off the Mera La saddle at approx 5400m. Plastic mountaineering boots are usually worn from base through to the summit bid and return. Whilst they feel clumsy they are perfect for the job, providing
warmth, protection and stability for the variable terrain including loose rocks, snow and ice. Another camp is set half way up the long north slope of the mountain, at about 5700m near a rock knob. Although it is a shorter distance here, it can be difficult in poor conditions and you are at altitude and
is harder and further than it first appears, (a common phenomenon in the Himalaya!). The summit bid will be made early in the morning (anywhere from 2 to 5am) from this high camp, and take around 4 to 6 hours to make the summit. Whilst the distance doesn't look far, we can assure you it will be hard work, and all the preparations and a positive, tempered attitude will pay off here. It is
usually necessary to rope up for much of the summit approach due to crevasse hazards along the route. The route can vary depending on the conditions of the season but usually skirts around a major shoulder in front of us to the back side of the mountain and then traverse in a fairly straightforward approach to the summit knob. As the light comes, we enjoy incredible views across to Baruntse (7129m), Chamlang (7319m) and Nau Lekh (6360m) with Makalu (8481m) looming behind. Further to our left is Everest, peaking over several unnamed peaks of the Hinku. To the south we can see for miles down to the terrai. Due to the unstable nature of the final summit knob, it is most likely unsuitable to climb this final section and our designated summit can be made safely nearby. We aim to make the summit early/mid-morning and return to basecamp at Kaare that afternoon. The exact schedule will depend on many factors, including the weather, condition of the route and condition of the members. Our contingency of equipment and experienced staff and a time buffer, gives us a fair amount of flexibility to achieve success for all who have worked hard and consistently
from the beginning of the expedition. The day will be long, and this is where all the training beforehand, the trek approach, and the right attitude will combine to give you stamina and confidence to be part of a sound team, with optimum chances for the summit.

Day 17: Contingency Day
Today is a contingency day allowed for inclement weather, and or poor conditions on the mountain. People not wanting or able to continue on to the summit bid on the mountain are able to stay comfortably at our base camp in a grassy hollow with easy short walks possible and mountain views all around. One or two of our staff at least will mind the camp along with the porters.

Day 18:
Honku Valley to Baruntse (7129m)
Feeling tired and exhilarated by our adventure, we pack up and descend into the Honku Valley and proceed to our base camp and main objective of the trip - Mt Baruntse.

Day 19: Establish camps
Already well acclimatised, we spend the next four days establishing camps and load carrying. Our itinerary during this time is flexible. We ask that all participants follow the advice of the expedition leader and crew at all times and participate actively in the setting up of camps and preparing of meals when required.

Day 20:
Baruntse summit attempt
Having established C1 on the West Col at 6100m and C2 further up the Baruntse slopes at 6400m we will wait for favourable weather conditions before attempting the summit. The route above C2 requires some fixing and our sherpas will help set up the route. The itinerary is flexible allowing for inclement weather and a prolonged stay in our high camp.

Day 21: Baruntse Base Camp
A well deserved restday at BC with ample opportunity to reflect on our climb on Baruntse. We may choose to repack our loads and send some porters and staff back to Lukla via Mera La and the Zatwra La while the rest of us prepare for the challenging crossing of the Amphu Laptsa.

Day 22:
Cross Amphu Laptsa
An alpine start for our pass crossing. Once again, ferrying across all our loads together with all party members, crew, porters and members takes time. The approach to the pass from the Hunku is deceptive. Facing east and southward there is much more sun and little snow, just a collection of rocks that gradually lead up to the gap we travel through. On the north facing side we find steep
slopes of snow that we must take care to descend by fixed ropes to the snow basins below and subsequent moraine and alpine valley beyond. The views from this 5780m pass crossing to the peaks of Khumbu are unmatched. Any spare moment one may have whilst we are climbing and descending will allow one to appreciate the spectacle of the peaks of the region.

Day 23: To Chukkung
An easy day trekking down the valley towards the small settlement of Chukkung where we hopefully will partake in a celebratory drink or two.

Day 24: Trek to Namche Bazaar
We begin our exit trek descending through the famous Khumbu Valley to Namche Bazaar. Namche is known as the Sherpa capital and it is a great place to wonder around, visit the Tibetan stalls or enjoy the Swiss bakeries.

Day 25: To Lukla
It is a long, long way to the relatively steamy environment of Lukla, so take your time, but maintain your pace or it will be a very long day. Most people don't need too much encouragement on our last day's trek, with the thought of cold drinks and so on and a chance to put your feet up. It goes without saying that a good end of trek party will go off tonight.

Day 26: Fly Lukla to Kathmandu
All going well, we will fly out of this small mountain airstrip on a very spectacular flight back to Kathmandu. On arrival, we will be met and transferred to the hotel where there is no fixed program for the rest of the day. You can relax or shop, explore as you please.

Day 27:
Day at leisure in Kathmandu
If the group sight-seeing tour has not been taken, it will be scheduled for today; including visits to Pashupatinath, Boudnath, Patan and Durbar Square in central Kathmandu otherwise you will be free to relax or explore the city.

Day 28:
Depart from Nepal.
We will take you to the airport to catch your flight back home.
The cost includes
  • High altitude mountaineering leader
  • Airport transfers
  • Flights Kathmandu/Lukla/Kathmandu
  • Safety equipment including group medical kit. high altitude chamber and satellite phone
  • Accommodation at 3 start hotel in Kathmandu
  • Trek pack including sleeping bag, down or fiber filled jacket and insulated mat
  • climbing pack including ice axe, crampons, harness and helmet
  • Private transportation
  • All park entrance fees and trekking permits
  • Porters to carry all personal and group equipment
  • Porter's insurance

The cost does not include:
  • International Flights and Taxes
  • Tips
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu
  • Bottled water, aerated & alcoholic drinks
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.
  • Visa
  • Travel Insurance

Requirements for members
To join this expedition prior mountaineering experience at altitude is considered essential. Please contact us for more details.

Physical Fitness
For a challenging program physical fitness should be an ongoing thing, which should start from a base at around 4 to 6 months prior to departure and increase to build maximum endurance, stamina, flexibility and familiarity with the anticipated routine as much as possible by your trip commencement. Three to five hard sessions of 40 to 60 minutes of physical exercise per week such as running, hill walking, swimming, cycling or gym work will build excellent aerobic capacity and overall endurance and stamina which are so important in
trekking and climbing at altitude. Overnight or multi day bushwalks ( on rough, loose and rocky terrain) should be incorporated in your training regime also, this develops skill and confidence on difficult terrain you will find on expedition. Rest and recovery, whilst at the same time steadily increasing your routine and incorporating variety, are just as important parts of the process if you intend to maintain and enjoy the regime for any duration. (We hope that it will become a 'lifetime' thing.) With a solid training regime comes a more relaxed disposition, more energy and usually better walking and breathing technique, which ultimately leads to you having a great trip rather than some kind of survival experience. Likewise overnight camping bushwalks encourage you to become self-actualised and self-reliant, making the daily routine on trek, getting ready on time, keeping clean, helping out and so on, much easier and less stressful. Plan early with us and prepare yourself physically on a continuing basis right the way through, rather than putting it off for periods


Equipment required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).


Acute mountain sickness
When we ascend above 2500 meters our bodies have to acclimatise to the decreasing amount of the oxygen available. To allow our bodies to adjust World Expeditions has structured its treks so that you ascend slowly, allowing acclimatisation to occur. However, during the acclimatisation process, you may experience some of the following symptoms.
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Loss of appetite/nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Palpitation
  • Swelling of the hands and face

Individuals acclimatize at different rates. Your best strategy is to take your time and drink plenty of water. These symptoms may not indicate the onset of A.M.S. and if you experience them it does not necessarily mean that you should not continue. All World Expeditions group leaders have extensive first aid training and we urge you to communicate with the group leader at all times should you believe you have any symptoms in order that we can effectively monitor your symptoms. The only cure for Acute Mountain Sickness is to descend. Please note that your group leader has ultimate responsibility and may ask you to descend if
symptoms persist.


Protecting the environment
Deforestation is Nepal's greatest environmental problem and we use the kerosene as an alternative fuel to wood on all expeditions. We do not have camp fires and we strongly discourage trekkers from buying wood-fuelled hot showers that they may encounter along the way. We do not use wood for cooking or heating water whilst in lodges but use kerosene stoves that we carry with us. We also carry our own food supplies in order to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and meal quality, and do not deplete local resources