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Corona Update Nepal

Arun Hinku Valley Mera Trek

Abhishek Subedi July 19, 2020

Arun Valley Trekking is really a non touristic area but we can see significant views of Mt. Everest, Makalu, and hundreds of other mountains just on your eye. Sherpa, Rai and Limbus are the main inhabitants of this region. The Arun Valley, east of Everest, leading to Makalu Base Camp is least visited by tourists like Nepal’s far west. Trek to Makalu can be cut short by taking direct flight to Tumlingtar, a small village located on a plateau. The trek from Tumlingtar at barely 390m to Makalu Base Camp at 4,800m is long and arduous as vast range in temperatures is confronted, from steamy in the lowlands to snow storms at high altitude. 

This region is blessed with an incredible diversity of natural beauty and culture. Due to its isolation and lack of tea houses this area still receives few trekkers. Sherpa, Rai and Limbus are main habitants in this area. Walking north up the Arun river to Sedua and Num, then crossing Barun La (4110m) into the upper Barun Khola valley for a close look at Makalu (8463m). You can put together an even wilder trek by crossing Sherpani Col and west Col into the upper Hongu valley. The second part of the trek is very difficult and almost impossible without previous experience. 

About the Arun Valley

The Arun Valley is lush, green oasis, rich in bird life and these first few days provide a fascinating contrast to high mountain escape as we approach Arun, Hinku Valley and Mera Peak. Our trekking route to the Mera-La will take us through thick rhododendron and bamboo forest separating Hinku valleys. On the trail to Panch Pokhari will come across a beautiful Sherpa Village and Kirong La Buddhist Monastery.

The views of the mountain along this section are superb and beautiful. Towards the east we can see the Kanchenjunga and Jannu Himal, to the north; the views of Hinku and Hongu dominate. The trail continues to Tag nag (4400m) from here we move to Khare (4940m) where we establish the base camp at the foot of the glacier leading to Mera-La (5415m). Here we have some days to rest for exploring around and acclimatization. Our return trails will take us south, down to the Hinku Drangka before turning west to cross the Zattrawa-La to the mountain airstrip. 

Arun Hinku Valley Mera Trek

Day 01: Fly to Lukla and trek to Puiyan

You will be taken to the airport for one of the great flights of the Himalaya. If the sky is clear during your flight, you will get your first views of Everest and the region in which we will be climbing. The Twin Otter aircraft will take you to the hillside village of Lukla, which is the start of your trek to Mera. Here you will meet your camp staff and porters and set off straight away for your first camp at Puiyan.

Arun Hinku Valley Mera Trek

Day 02: Trek to Pangkongma

After breakfast cross the Puiyan Khola, then you will turn off the main trade route coming up from the south and join an older route, which climbs steeply to the ridge-line overlooking the Khare Khola. Descending the other side of the ridge, you will then contour along the hillside before climbing steadily up to the attractive farming and trading village of Pangkongma. Many expedition members have been welcomed by the villagers here, spending several pleasant hours warming themselves in front of an open fire in the enveloping and welcoming atmosphere of the local’s traditional Sherpa homes.

Day 03: Trek to Nashing Dingma

Today you will climb the half hour or so to the Pan gum La and your 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 meters depending on which path you take, and then a climb up to your camp high on the other side near the Surke La. You 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 04: Trek to Chalem Kharka

After breakfast you will climb up to the Source La. You will now follow the spine of the Surke 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 05: Trek to Chunbu Kharka

Continuing along the ridge, you will climb higher and higher over knolls (lumps in the ridge) of 4000 meters and then 4500 meters. 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, lammergeyer or eagles. You will then descend to a camp set near a series of five lakes, Panch Pokhari, set beside the river of the Chunbu Kharka.

Day 06: Rest day at Chunbu Kharka

Today is a rest day for acclimatization and a lovely natural setting to explore further.

Arun Hinku Valley Mera Trek

Day 07: Trek to Hinku valley camp

The route now contours around many ridges on the eastern side of the Hinku, descending lower into forests of rhododendron. Near the valley floor you will 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. The overnight is on a pleasant grassy patch, on the now much higher bank of the rocky riverbed.

Day 08 & 09: Trek to Tag nag

Today you are now in the Hinku Valley proper, and cross over by way of a yak herder’s bridge and join the main trail. The first settlement you will stay at 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.

Trek to Tag nag

You gain your first views of dramatic peaks of the valley; Kusum Kanguru to your left that stands directly before you. The path then weaves up on to the pastures on the left hand side and pleasant easy trails through to Tag nag. Today you will also enjoy your first views of Mera, initially at the confluence of the Sanu Drangka above Kote, if the weather is clear you can see the dramatic south face, and then on your final approach into Tag nag. You are now among mountains and starting to prepare for your climb.

Day 10: Trek to Khare 

Today you can experience an excellent valley opening out views to the north of the Hinku Nup glacier and the line of peaks beyond. Behind you is the dramatic spire of the less than romantically named ‘Peak 35’, which has yet to be climbed. Only the last section up to your base camp at Khare is steep and reminds you that you are gaining altitude. It’s a short climb and you are there in good time for lunch.

Day 11: Trek to Mera Base Camp

A steady climb out of the valley and up through lateral moraine and grassy culverts to your last camp below the snowline. The route itself is fairly straightforward, there are objective hazards and good basic technique and awareness of changing conditions is vital for every individual.

Day 12, 13 & 14: Summit attempt on Mera

These three day is going to plan and the weather on your side, you would move up to a rock and glaciated camp just off the Mera La saddle at approx (5400m/17712ft). 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/18696ft near a rock knob. Although it is a shorter distance here, it can be difficult in poor conditions and you are at altitude and are harder and further than it first appears. The summit bid will be made early in the morning (anywhere from 2am 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.

Summit attempt on Mera
Orange Tents of high Altitude Camp of Mountain Climbers Expedition in Himalaya Nepal in the evening

About The Summit attempt on Mera

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 traverses 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 your left is Everest, peaking over several unnamed peaks of the Hinku. To the south you can see for miles down to the terrain. You will aim to make the summit early/mid-morning and return to base camp after the summit. The exact schedule will depend on many factors, including the weather, condition of the route and condition of the members. Moreover, the contingency of equipment and experienced staff and a time buffer, gives you 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 15 & 16: Commence trek into the Hinku Valley

You  will need to make a relatively early start today. Once your porters are organized you will commence  most remote stages of the expedition. You will then descend into the Hinku valley near to five large glacial lakes which sprawl out before you. They are known as Panch Pokhari (five lakes). The Amphu Laptsa pass is situated immediately at the head of the valley to your right and is basically the low point on the ridge between the Hinku and the Imja valleys. For this day or so you are in the Hinku. A new vista of peaks span out before you including Ama Dablam to the distant westward, and many unnamed peaks. On these stages we ask that members be flexible and co-operative. Camps will be set where conditions allow, and your leader will keep you advised as to each day’s plan.

Day 17: Rest day at Amphu Laptsa base camp

Final preparations and gear checks for your pass crossing Amphu Laptsa.

Day 18 & 19: Cross Amphu Laptsa to Pangboche 

After early breakfast an alpine start for your pass crossing. Once again, ferrying across all your loads together with all party members, crew, porters and members takes time. The approach to the pass from the Hinku 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 you will find steep slopes of snow that you must take care to descend by fixed ropes to the snow basins below and subsequent moraine and alpine valley beyond. The views from this pass crossing to the peaks of Khumbu are unmatched. Any spare moment one may have whilst you are climbing and descending will allow one to appreciate the spectacle of the peaks of the region.

Amphu Laptsa base camp

Day 20 & 21: Trek to Lukla

You will begin your exit trek descending through the famous Khumbu Valley to Thyangboche Monastery and Namche Bazaar. Namche is known as the Sherpa capital and it is a great place to wander around, visit the Tibetan stalls or enjoy the Swiss bakeries. You will descend the slopes of Namche to the Dud Koshi joining the main trail to follow at riverside through numerous villages to Phakding. On crossing the bridge, you will trek a short distance up and around, to the broad flat spur that Lukla lies upon. The last night is always memorable for an end of trip celebration with all the crew and porters.

Day 22: Fly back to Kathmandu

After an early morning flight to Kathmandu .Your guide will transfer you to your hotel. You may have time to relax after a long journey and take back your breath and rest at your hotel ending your Himalayan trip.


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