My name is Mike Brennan and I made five major mistakes in my planning and execution for climbing Mera Peak. Firstly, I got lazy on a range of fronts. I had climbed Kilimanjaro back in 2021 and got complacent. I trained hard, or I tough I trained hard enough.
My research led me to picking the 8-day Lemosho Route and found Kilimanjaro tough and I should have completed more endurance and strength training for Kilimanjaro, but I squeezed through, made the summit but found it hard getting back down. I remember my legs being sore on the final day hiking off the mountain and It took me a few days to recover.
The Mountaineering Cycle
I remember some of my fellow team members talking about the cycle of mountaineering. It pretty much says you come off a trip, say you will never do it again and a few days later you are back planning your next adventure. That is pretty much what I did.
I checked out Ian’s YouTube channel and settled on Mera Peak for my next trip.
It was time to call Ian, but all his early 2022 Mera Peak trips were sold out. I checked out some other companies and found a 16 day itinerary, which I thought could work. It was a poor decision and I learned the hard way, which sometimes needs to happen in life.
The First Mistake
The itinerary I picked was too short. I was thinking if I can go to 19,000 feet on an 8 day itinerary why can’t I go to 21,000 feet on a 16 day itinerary. This was a big mistake. I was sick on the third day of the itinerary as we hiked up and over the Zatra La Pass at 15,091 feet and down into Khote 11,811 feet.
The hike from Khote to Khare was easier terrain but our itinerary only had one night in Khare before moving to Mera Peak High Camp at 19,000 feet before the summit attempt. Two turned around below High Camp and the rest of us got sick at High Camp from the altitude and all had to turn around. This was a big mistake and should have waited for a space on one of Ian’s Mera Peak trips.
The Second Mistake
On Kilimanjaro Ian had Kilimanjaro’s Number one Guide and the staff and team were amazing. Our Mera Peak Guide was nowhere near that level. We had one climbing Guide for a group of 6 people. The guide never did any training on the technical equipment, never check crampons, covered ice axe arrest, or talked over the risks. I felt the jump up to High Camp 19,000 feet from Khare 16,000 feet was designed to get us sick and have to turn around. Overall, the support, guides, team and service were terrible. Again, I should have gone with Ian’s Team.
I also found the guide went too fast on the trek into Khare and higher on the mountain. This made the trek much harder will less recovery. We were certainly trekking at higher heart rates and not sure our group had done this targeted training. In additional to this, the guide did not rope us up on the glacier.
The Third Mistake
What I have learned is that acclimatization is everything. I remember Ian saying to me ‘without acclimatization you have nothing‘. I will never forget that now. My first decision will always be around the itinerary and acclimatization, making sure I have enough days to quality acclimatization and summit attempts. Check out Ian’s Itinerary it is much better than the other Mera Peak itinerary I used on my first attempt.
The Fourth Mistake
I learned that not every trip is the same. Kilimanjaro is mostly trail hiking. There is some scrambling on day five as you make your way up the Barranco wall to 13,800 feet with some steep terrain higher on Kilimanjaro. Also, Kilimanjaro is an 8 day trip. The Everest region and trek into Mera Peak has more stairs and steps and is a longer trip. It also has more elevation exchange.
There is more up and down on the trail through the whole trip and requires more specific training than I thought I needed. Being comfortable with back to back 3,000 feet of elevation gains with weight in your training is extremely important. Check out Ian’s advice, training for Mera Peak.
Training for the downhill is important and something I neglected from my first Himalayan experience. I certainly refined my training and was much stronger for my second attempt with Ian’s team in the post monsoon season in 2022.
The Fifth Mistake
I went with a cheaper option, and it was a waste of money. You get what you pay for. Ian Taylor Trekking’s experience, full time crews on the ground, more acclimatization, more staff, support and professional approach makes all the difference. I should have waited for an Ian Taylor Trekking from the start and won’t make that mistake again.
Join the Experts
I decided to go back to Mera Peak with Ian’s team in 2022 and made it to the summit. I trained more specifically for this trip, and I had more acclimatization, better guides and support for our summit attempt. The longer trek in helped with additional conditioning.
The guides were far superior to the previous disaster trip. Our whole team make it to the summit. We had an itinerary that gave acclimatization and flexibility. We had quality mountaineering equipment and like Kilimanjaro this experience exceeded my expectations.
My plan is to return to Nepal and climb Island Peak with Ian himself in 2023. Time to starting planning for the next adventure!