With only two weeks until our departure, we are completing our training regimens and getting our gear organized - this is no small feat, as you can tell from our mandatory gear list.
We are also taking a closer look at our itinerary, to get a better idea of what we will be facing when we get to Nepal.
While Jimmy has spent some time in the region, the rest of us have never been to the Himalayas. Jimmy, David and Mike are all traveling East, meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, before heading to Kathmandu, while Adam will be going westward (likely through Hong Kong). Nepal is literally halfway around the world, with the mileage from Central Canada virtually identical, whether you go east or west.
Kathmandu sits at approximately 4,600 feet, and has a population of 1.4 million (6 million people including suburbia). The population is primarily Buddhist and Hindu, with many temples and religious structures located in and around the city.
Weather in Kathmandu during this time of year is warm, with average daytime highs around 27c (80F) and nighttime lows of 20c (68F). Contrast this with temperatures near the summit of Mera Peak of -25c (-13F), and we will need a wide array of layers over two and a half weeks!
There are two main climbing seasons in the Himalayas - April / May and October/November - these times of year coincide with the beginning and end of the Monsoon season, which runs June to September. It is generally accepted that mid-October is the ideal to time to trek and climb, as skies are clear and the temperatures are still warm.
We will be taking a 45 minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (9,350 feet), the most dangerous airport in the world (see this video for an idea of what it looks like). Lukla is northeast of Kathmandu and is the jumping off point for many of the great treks and climbs in Nepal (including Mount Everest).
After a couple of days acclimatizing in Lukla, we will board a helicopter and fly over a mountain pass into the Hinku Valley. The Hinku Valley is relatively remote (especially when compared with the neighbouring Khumbu Valley) with small villages and spectacular scenery - these are some of the main reasons we chose this expedition.
The next week will be spent slowly making our way up the valley - near the end of the week, we will put on our harnesses, rope up and climb to Mera Peak base camp at 5,300 metres (17,500 feet). By now the evenings will be well below freezing and our expedition gets a bit tougher.
The final day will see us climb 4-5 hours to High Camp at 5,800 metres (19,000 feet) where we will rest for a few hours before making our push to the summit.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain