19 October 2018
Hello everyone from Mera La, at 5,300m in the Himalayas. We are camping here on a tiny rocky patch just below the glacier that we are climbing to the summit of Mera Peak.
It has been an incredibly tough day for me. It started with nerves and anticipation. I struggled to eat much breakfast and was keen to get started. Putting our harnesses and mountaineering boots on felt that we were setting off on a proper expedition. We were all in high spirits and the whole team were feeling well.
The first three hours were spent clambering over boulders with incredibly steep and long drops to our side. It is fair to say I was quite nervous. It was terrain that even a couple of years ago would have terrified me, which shows how much we can conquer our fears if we push ourselves. I managed all of it with a few hand holds or suggestions for where to put my feet to avoid slipping down the steep slope! It took a lot of physical and mental energy though.
When we arrived at the glacier itself, I was delighted – a chance to get off the rocks! My delight was very much mistaken! We put our crampons on and got our ice axes out and I felt like a proper mountaineer! We were roped together in two groups, as there are crevasses that we could fall into and being roped together means we can pull the other way if someone falls into one. It works well apparently but I hope never to find out!
We set off onto the glacier and the first 500m was incredibly steep – much steeper than a skiing black run – and I was very scared. It was a struggle to get my feet into positions where I felt safe and I swore for the first (but not the last time) of the day! To our right was a man being brought down by his team who was clearly very unwell and that added to my nerves. It reminded me that this was dangerous. Once I’d got to the top of that section, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and we needed to walk uphill for another 90 minutes. It was incredibly hard and I needed to stop a few times to compose myself. The people I was roped up with were so supportive and kept me going. I was so grateful for that.
We finally saw our camp site after 6 hours of trekking and were treated to home made soup and hot lemon. Both tasted divine!
I was advised not to sleep in the tent on my own as it will be so cold and windy tonight. There are an odd number of people on our trek and I am the only female on her own. It isn’t culturally acceptable here for one of our wonderful guides to share a tent with me and so one of the married couples very kindly volunteered to split up so that I could share a tent with the woman. This left a ‘spare’ man who has kindly offered to sleep in the dining tent with all the guides. The kindness was incredibly overwhelming at the end of a tough and emotional day for me.
The scenery is stunning and I hope tomorrow to enjoy it more by being more prepared for the cold and the terrain. Thanks for all your support. Before I left this morning, I received a huge number of messages wishing me well and I focused on those during the tough patches today.