Day 01 POYAN (CHUTOK) (9186'/2800M):
Fly into Lukla. Meet Sherpas. Check all climbing gear then follow down path on the south side of the airstrip and descend steeply for half an hour before meeting the main trade route coming up from the south to the Khumbu. Continue descent to Surke before climbing up to the Chitok La. Some more ups and downs before arriving at a good campsite at Poyan.
Day 02 PANGKONGMA (9700'/2957M):
After crossing the Poyan Khola turn off the main route on to the old trade route climbing up to the ridgeline overlooking Khari Khola. Descend to Kharte and then leaving the main trail start roughly contouring east. Lunch by a subsidiary stream of Khari Khola. After lunch a steady climb up to the attractive farming and trading village of Pangkongma.
Day 03 GAY KHARKA (6560'/2000M):
Fine views west back to Trangsindo monastery. Lamjura and north west to Kwangde. A climb through thick rhododendron forest and bamboo leads to Pangkongma La (10400'/3175m) before an attractive descent to the small settlement of Shibuche. There are beautiful views from here looking south across the endless foothills rising each side of the Hinku valley and shortly after the descent begins MERA with its twin peaks and vertical south face come into sight at the top end of this most impressive valley. After lunch the trail needs care as it drops steeply for 1 ½ - 2 hours down to a small bridge over the Hinku Khola. It is then a toughies climb up to Gay Kharka itself.
Day 04 CHALEM KHARKA (10496'/3200M):
Following up the south flank of the valley we pass other potentially good campsite in pasture land below Nashing Dingma (8300'/2500m). A deceptively long and steep climb leads to the Surke La (10200'/3085m). Shortly after we pass the trail that leads east to Tumlingtar and East Nepal and another one leading to a small village called Cheskam. We follow a third way up and cross the slope. After 1 ½ hours or so climb an attractive campsite set amidst and rhododendron is reached.
Day 06 CHANBU KHARKA (13780'/4200M):
We follow the west side of the ridge before climbing through the last scrub rhododendron. The trail turns north climbing between two bluffs. Passing through more grazing country the route leads to a steep climb and a pass at about 12900'/3900m offering marvelous mountain views east right across to Kanchenjunga and Jannu and Hongo and Hinku villages. More hard work climbing up to around 14500'/4450m leads to an ill defined trail down to the banks of the main lake and camp.
Day 07 MOSOM KHARKA (12100'/3691M):
A steep climb leads out of the valley before the trail contours along and around towards the main Hinku Valley. This is followed by a series of steep descents first westwards down scree then north west through scrub rhododendron and on into fir. A scrambling descent of around 2200'/290m brings us down near the valley floor where we cross the Mojang Khola and on through a bulder strewn forest to a lunch spot at Rondruk Dingma. After the route follows along a fairly rough trail following the bank of the river to Mosom Kharka.
Day 08 GONDISHUNG (13300'/4060M):
Today we move camp only to Gondishung about 1 ½ hours further up to the valley. People can either have an easy day and relax or there is a very attractive side trip up to the Dhudhkund – a lake lying below the south face of Mera itself. The trail up the south bank of the Sanu Khola is well marked and it is about 3 ½ hours up from Mosom Kharka to the lake area itself. The views of the south face of Mera (21241'/6475m) and Naulekh (20870'/3636m) at the eastern end of the cirque of mountains make all the hard work well worthwhile. About 2 ½ hours back down to Mosom Kharka andthen 1 ½ hours up to the new campsite a long, hard but rewarding day for those who wish for a good (acclimatization) side trip.
Day 09 DIG KHARKA (15200'/4660M):
The trail leads on up to Tangnag and then after lunch steepens upscree before turning east and gradually leveling off into the valley with the Mera La straight ahead and Mera Peak up and to the right.
Day 10 KHARE (16400'/5000M):
Acclimatization day offering a worthwhile diversion/exploration trip towards the Hinku Nup Khare glacier. There are some alternative campsites in this area depending on conditions and whether there are other parties around the Dig Kharka area but it is best to move camp from the Dig Kharka up to Khare. Water can be difficult here. Much will depend on conditions at the time but in any event the afternoon should be kept free for sorting gear, checking crampons, etc. in preparation for the climb.
Day 11 HIGH CAMP:
From Khare 1 hour up a steep little winding path which leads to a small high pass. It is then 15 minutes across scree to the tongue of the Mera glacier and a further 15 minutes scrambling up the side of the glacier itself before crampons etc. are fitted and the route moves out on to the glacier itself. It is about 1 ½ hours up to the Mera La (Pass) which offers fine views east and west. A high camp is put in anything between ½ hour and an hour above the pass itself. In some ways the higher the better to ease the length of the climb the following morning.
Day 12 SPARE DAY:
This is built in as a spare day on the itinerary. However it the weather is good the decision will probably be made to make the climb this day.
Day 13 MERA PEAK (21192'/6461M):
The climb itself starts gradually and much will depend on snow and general weather conditions. The normal route steepens into a left hand valley before turning back and up a long sloping culvert that leads on up before finally emerging on a short ridge leading to a steep little climb up the exposed south east ridge to the summit. This section need a rope fixed for protection. The climb takes approximately 6 hours from high camp. Descend back to Khare.
Rest day/spare day.
Day 15 TASHING DINGMA (11489'/3500M):
About three hours on down the valley lies Gondishung which used to be the site of an old monastery. A good spot for lunch. A little further down we pass a small bridge which was route used on the way in up the east bank of the river and continue on down the west bank. Entering rhododendron and fern forests there are some ups and downs before a good campsite is reached at Tashing Dingma. This is a long but not too strenuous day trek.
Day 16 TULI KHARKA (14760'/4500M):
The trail turns uphill and soon joins and follows the northern bank of the main stream. There was an spot for an early lunch after about one and half hours of consistent ascent where the stream is crossed. Water becomes more difficult later in the day. The ascent continues after lunch and we gradually climb above the tree line on to more broken and uneven ground. A day of almost constant ascent leads to Tuli Kharka.
Day 17 LUKLA (9184'/2799M):
The climb continues for about one and half hours up to the Zatrwala pass at 15000'/4560m. There are a series of chhortens and mani walls marking this pass which offers fine views across to Kwangde, Lumding Himal and Karyolung. Also views back east to the Poyan valley and across to our earlier route on the far side of Inukhu. The descent towards Lukla starts steeply down. There is an alternative pass at the Zatrwala Teng at about 16200'/4940m a little further north and if snow and weather conditions permit this might make an interesting alternative route back to Lukla. Chutenga is reached after about two hours which offers the first real spot for lunch-streams higher up are often dry or frozen. A good spot for lunch after a long morning. It is about another two hours down through the forest to Lukla.
Day 18 LUKLA – KATHMANDU
The trek ends with the spectacular flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. This takes 45 minutes and most flights operate during morning before the winds build up in the valley.