I proudly introduce to you: Mera. Mera is a Nepalese stray dog. This presumable cross breed between a Tibetan mastiff and a Bhutia sheepdog was until recently a dog just like any other. But when the female dog climbed the summit of the Baruntse in the high mountains of the Himalayas, her life changed forever. Her succesful climb dates back to the 9th of November 2018, but the news only reached the rest of the world recently.
The Baruntse is a heavyweight of more than 23,000 feet (7,000m) and stands in the shadow of Mount Everest. The climb to the top of the mountain is known to be pretty treacherous. As an alpinist, you do not only have to cross some dangerous crevasses, but this white giant is also particularly avalanche sensitive after recent snowfall. These risks however did not hold expedition leader Don Wargowsky and his team back from starting the tough climb last November.
Like most climbers they approached the Baruntse from the southern ridge. They first climbed the Mera Peak, which is usually used as an acclimatization point, after which they would progress stadily up to the base camp of Baruntse. It is there that the team met the dog Mera for the first time, and hence the name they gave her.
From that moment on Mera decided to never leave Wargowsky’s side again. She continued to follow the team for days, regularly ran some distance ahead of them, then waited for a moment to look back with a bored glance on her face showing that she thought the pace of the group was rather slow. Mera hopped with great ease over slippery glaciers and rugged rocks. Thanks to her amazing climbing techniques, she quickly gained respect from the entire expedition team. Especially Wargowsky himself lost his heart to the friendly animal and offered her a warm place in his tent for the rest of the trip. He even shared his own scarce ration with the young dog.
For a while they split ways. After an ascent to Camp 1, Mera did not dare to walk back along a steep descent. For two days the dog stayed behind, without food or any kind of protection against the harsh weather conditions. When the Sherpas had to climb back to the same point to attach ropes to Camp 2, Wargowsky ordered them to bring back Mera safely if she was still alive. Against all odds, they found the dog alive and well and the team was happy they could hold their lost friend back in their arms again.
In the meantime, Mera had suffered considerably. There was blood on her paws, she had bruised knuckles, and some of her toenails had broken off. Still, the four-legged friend did not give up and she continued to follow the group voluntarily to the top. Even when Wargowsky tied her up in a camp when they wanted to start the last section of the climb, Mera suddenly showed up again, turning around Wargowsky’s legs and wagging his tail. The animal had apparently managed to bite the rope and did not have any better idea than to go for the pursuit.
Just before the top, the weather turned. As a result, the team got stuck in the last camp for four days. When on the fifth day the weather was good enough to climb to the top, the team got ready to leave at 2 o’clock in the morning. Wargowsky was relieved, because Mera was still in a deep sleep. He left her and guided his group further to the top. However, around dawn, Mera woke up, and you guessed it… Without thinking twice she took a spurt towards the top. It only took her two hours to catch up with the team, while the group had been climbing for seven hours.
Of the six climbers that Wargowsky had in his group, only one person was fit enough to reach the top. One person, and one dog. Because Mera also reached the summit of the Baruntse.
During the descent Wargowsky attached Mera on a rope for a while, for safety reasons. But besides that, the dog did the whole ascent and descent on her own.
Once back in the valley, Wargowsky found it hard to say goodbye to Mera. The expedition leader could not accept that his climbing partner would go back to her stray dog life. Kaji Sherpa, the basecamp manager, felt the same way. He adopted the dog and gave her a golden basket in his house. He found, however, that her name Mera did no longer cover it, and renamed her Baru, after the mountain she so bravely conquered.