Everest base-camp trek Guide

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Wrapped in wonder, the Everest stands in all its majesty, flaunting its stance as the world’s highest mountain. Scaling up the heights to gaze at the proud mountain is one of the most mystifying experiences the world has in store for you. Brace yourself for this trek full of promises and watch the drama of ice and rock unravel before you! Discover yourself in the rawest, truest form as the spectacle unwraps all the layers that life has piled over you. Invite the Everest experience and let the altitude alter you.

 

 

  • What is the Everest base camp?

 

 

Nestled on either side of the Everest are the north and south base camps with cheerfully colored tents scattered across the flawless white, poised to witness starlit skies and jaw-dropping landscapes. So where exactly are these camps located and how do you get there? Let’s get to the nitty gritty of your adventure.

 

The South Base Camp is located in Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 metres  while the North Base Camp, is located in Tibet at 5,150 metres. Your trek could take as long as 7 to 20 days depending on your health and how you’d like to treat your purse. Although you wouldn’t be setting foot on the Everest, the base camp trek isn’t really a walk in the park. It takes everything your body and mind can offer. Nonetheless, you get to weave through different textures, from shrubbery, lush farmlands, dense forests to clear blue rivers and glacial pools and finally crawl into your tent at this much sought after base camp.

The South base camp, the hot favorite amongst trekkers from across the globe does justice to its good repute. In 2015, it was noted that about 40,000 people per year trek from the Lukla airport to the Nepal Everest Base Camp. But stay warned, the south base camp has been swept off its feet by avalanches and earthquakes before, inflicting serious damage to several lives.

 

The north base camp currently requires a permit from the Chinese government, in addition to the permit required to visit Tibet itself. The Base Camp is located in the Khumbu Valley in Nepal and offers a panoramic view of the enchanting Sagarmatha National Park, which is amongst the UNESCO world heritage sites. The Sagarmatha national park is home to an extensive range of 118 species of birds including rare birds like Himalayan Monal, Red-Billed Chough, Blood pheasant and yellow billed chough. The national park is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise as it hosts some of the rarest mammals like the Red Panda, Musk Deer, the Snow leopard, Himalayan black Deer, Himalayan Thar, Langur Monkeys, Martens and Himalayan wolves.

The trail leading to the base camps are dotted with little tea houses. Au contraire to your immediate perception, the tea houses aren’t literally houses that serve tea, but more like breakfast and bed hotels. ‘Teahouse trekking’ is essentially trekkers venturing out on an exhausting trek and then stopping by these teahouses at the Sherpa towns to freshen up and revitalize their strength. Although they aren’t the most luxurious of maisons, they offer a hot meal, a bed and the option of a hot shower. Your teahouse hopping gets tougher as you scale up the altitude. Toilets get more uncomfortable and the scarcity of hot water can be quite disconcerting. The food tends to get repetitive and the monotony of your routine is likely to settle in within a few days through the trek. Although the experience might trespass over your physical and emotional boundaries, it won’t last long. Wait till you get to your camp and the sense of gratification and achievement that washes over the stickiness of your long trek.

The Everest base camp attempts to pamper you against the hostile environment that they’re set up against. Camps generally offer facilities like wifi, heaters and solar electricity. They may essentially consist of camp beds, chairs and carpets and are structured to withstand extreme weather conditions. But you would be signing up for disappointment if you’re picturing a luxurious, plush setting. Although your essentials will be looked after, your stay is likely to be rough. Regardless of that, the mere experience of the vast expanse is extremely liberating and rewarding, and every bit worth the struggle.

  1. How long does it take to trek EBC?

A trek to EBC is a daunting task, but is a well paid price for marvelling at the opulence of the Himalayas. The time taken to reach the zenith depends on a multitude of factors such as the route you pick, the season during your travel and the influence of acclimatization.

A trek to the Everest Base Camp is a potpourri of awe-inducing experiences that are truly worthy of finding a place in your travel memoirs, making it time immemorial.









Routes

The duration of the trek primarily depends on the route chosen. The four popular ones are :



Route 1 : The Quentennsial Trek / The Classic Trek (14 days)

 

Way up : Kathmandu-Lukla- Phadking- Namche Bazaar - Tengboche - Dingboche - Lobuche - Gorak Shep - Kalpatthar

Way down : Pheriche - Kengjuma - Monjo - Lukla - Kathmandu

 

The first leg of this trek actually begins with a short flight from Kathmandu looming over the snow kissed peaks to reach Lukla. Come Lukla, trek for three hours to reach Phadking. The next day, head to Namche Bazaar which is one of the biggest rest areas and markets famous for the settlement of Sherpas. After catching the glimpses of the high settlements, trek to Tyengboche and rest for a day in Dingboche for acclimatization.This is followed with a hike along the Khumbu glacier to reach Lobuche which offers some scintillating views of Nuptse. From here, cross the Changri glacier to reach Gorak Shep and bask in the sweet glory of conquering several peaks and making it to the Everest Base Camp. A trek to Kalpattar opens door to the moment awaited with bated breath, picturesque views of the Mount Everest. The last four days is used to descend to Lukla through Pheriche, Thyangboche via the village of Monjo. Take a flight from Lukla to reach Kathmandu.  

This is the most popular and the shortest way to reach EBC and takes about 14 days.

Route 2: .Jiri to Everest Base Camp (20-21 days)

The first phase of this journey begins at Jiri and ends at Cheplung with this part of the journey earning a reputation of being strenuous as it is riddled with narrow roads, steep ascents of 1200m and descents up to 1000m.

This is followed by walking through the mountain villages like Bupsa in the near vicinity of Dughla savoring in the tranquility of the snow-capped mountains. The Dudh-Koshi river (translates to the Milk river) weaves its magic and is truly a sight to behold. From this point onwards, a large part of this journey is uphill until one arrives at the Lukla airstrip after which the Lukla itinerary as mentioned above is applicable.   




Route 3: Tumlingtar to Everest Base Camp (~23 days)

 

The journey kickstarts at Tumlingtar in Eastern Nepal and takes about 9 days just to reach Lukla. This is also one of the routes less taken by trekkers as this trail requires a considerable amount of fitness and stamina and approximately takes 23 days to reach at the EBC.



Route 4: Gokyo Lakes trek (16-17days)

 

Way Up: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phadking-Namche Bazaar-Dole-Machchhermo- Gokyo-Gokyo Ri- Cholla pass- Lobuche- Gorak shep- Kalpatthar

Way down: Pheriche - Kengjuma - Monjo - Lukla - Kathmandu

The Gokyo Trek takes about 2-3 days more than the quintessential EBC route or the Classic EBC route. This trek offers bewitching views of the Gokyo lake. The trek quintessentially begins with trekking from Lukla to Phadking and then divert at Dole which further leads to Gokyo. Traverse the Cholla pass to end up joining with The Quintessential Route/ The Classic Route to return to Lukla and approximately takes 16 days to finish the trek and arrive at EBC.

Seasons

The season one chooses and the route one opts to trek holds the key to determine the approximate duration of the trek.  

Usually, the best time to trek is during the spring/autumn or summer as it offers the most stable and clear conditions opening doors to trekkers across the globe. Although some days are cold and might witness a few occasional showers, the temperature is still ambient for trekking. Rest assured, get ready to be enamoured by the spell casted by the mountains. Also, since the weather fluctuations are less during this time, the  time taken to trek wouldn’t deviate too much from the ideal estimated trek time.

Treks during winter is not popular amongst trekkers as it gets colder by the day, however it is still possible.  Despite the bone chilling cold, the weather is fairly stable. The temperatures are relatively moderate in the valleys and the temperatures drop to temperatures as low as -20 to -30 degrees Celsius in the night. The cold coupled with shorter days might increase the duration of the trek.

The monsoon period witnesses short, sharp torrential downpours, making it the wettest time of the year. Owing to the rain, the tea houses and trails are empty and garners very few trekkers. Combined with leeches and heavy snowfall with no clear views of the mountain, this is one of the most hostile time to trek, essentially increasing the time duration one has to spend in the mountains to reach EBC.

 

NOTE

 

The Himalayan weather conditions are extremely volatile, the weather fluctuations happen in the blink of an eye. From sudden landslides to unexpected showers to snowfall to extreme cold, the weather is notorious and unpredictable which might cause delays on several occasions and sometimes even lead to the shutdown of several routes.

 

Acclimatization

Research suggests that the amount of time required to get accustomed to lack of oxygen at 3500m/11500ft is more. The closest human settlement at this height is the town of Namche Bazaar situated at 3440m/11286ft.

The conventional practice is to spend two days to get used to the reduced levels of oxygen. However, a recent study shows that people fare better at higher altitudes when three days are spent at lower altitudes for better acclimatization.

Additionally, two days are spent in Dingboche for acclimatization at 4410m/14468ft which prepares for the journey ahead at 4900m/16000ft where the air starts thinning and the level of oxygen is low.

In a nutshell, greater the time you spend trying to acclimatize in lower altitudes, the chances of succumbing to altitude sickness is less which has a direct effect on your trekking experience and the also duration of the trek.

Also, trek to the EBC is no child’s play and requires a certain level of fitness and stamina to endure this excruciating trek of about 6-7 hours everyday.

People susceptible to altitude sickness and having a history of breathing problems might take longer to complete this trek.

3. How difficult is the EBC trek and who is it for?

While the Everest is definitely a sight to behold, it is also a daunting challenge. But is it your cup of tea?, because to misconceive is to miss out.  If you’ve assumed that the adventure entails climbing, you’re wrong. Your base camp trek will not necessitate ropes, tools or any such equipment or expertise. It is an upfront trek with mild slopes and a few steep sections that can make it moderately tricky.

On the other hand, the base camp trail is surely no breezy tourist trek. The fairly tricky trek put together with the extreme weather conditions can make it a tough row to hoe. However, there isn’t a better opportunity to unleash that boundless potential in you. You can always make the experience easier on yourself by following our tips to sight the sought after tip. The whole spectrum inclusive of the old, the young, the sick, the tired, the enthusiastic and the fragile have made it through the trek to the base camp and have taken home a spirit as indomitable as the Everest itself.

Contrary to the popular perception, you aren’t expected to have the expertise of a climber or the physique of an athlete to ace the trek. However, you will need to set a training plan for yourself at least six weeks prior to the big adventure. Your training plan can entail long walks, a few gym routines that can enhance the strength on your legs or other forms of exertion like jogging, aerobics etc. You will hardly ever rest on the Everest. The intention of the training is to brace your body for the long distances that you’re signing up for. You’ll find out more about this training in the coming sections.  

When we said Mount Everest can take your breath away, it wasn’t merely a metaphor. The altitude alters everything, including the amount of oxygen in the air. There is 50% lesser oxygen at the base camp as compared to the sea level. But that won’t be a major concern because your body acclimatizes, or gets accustomed to the atmospheric conditions. To ensure that your body acclimatizes, the trek needs to be taken at a rather slow pace, much to the frustration of fast trekkers. Staying reinforced with some good hours of rest, healthy meals and plenty of fluid will let you steer clear of the altitude sickness. While this sluggish ascent might add on to the duration of the trek, it weighs down the unpleasant risk factor involved.

Mountain sickness can prove to be the ‘greater evil’ in your trek and should not be disregarded or considered trivial. Acute cases of altitude sickness can incur dire consequences. A few symptoms that can help you take quick measures are shortness of breath at rest, fast heartbeat, dry cough, nausea etc. To stay on the safe side, it is recommended that you take the essential medical tests before venturing out on the trek. Other ways to exercise precaution is to use preventive medicines like Diamox while trekking, refrain from smoking, alcohol and use of sleeping tablets and always keeping your body hydrated.

Other factors that can prove to be a hassle are the tiresome distances, the long duration, mischievous weather patterns and the endless, monotony of trekking continuously, that might drain your emotional reserve. Generally, the base camp trek requires around fourteen days with nine days that purely involve trekking activities for about five to six hours each day. Several trekkers have swelled up with regret and complain halfway through the trek, but have washed away all traces of remorse on reaching the base camp.

Although it might now seem like you would be batting on a sticky wicket to sign up for the trek, stay rest assured that the Everest gives more than it takes. You just need to stay ahead of the game by preparing for every pitfall the Everest may have in store for you.



  1. What are the best routes to EBC?

Whilst the mighty Himalayas stands tall, it stalls even the most intrepid trekker to step back and bask in the grandeur of its snow-capped mountains,starlit skies,picturesque valleys with spectacular views of lakes.

Although there are multiple routes to reach the base camp which is situated at a staggering height of 5364 m, keep in mind the number of days you want to spend, the places you wish to encounter when you embark on this trek, the money you are willing to splurge and also your endurance levels.

The CLASSIC route / The QUINTESSENTIAL route (14 Days)

Way up : Kathmandu-Lukla- Phadking- Namche Bazaar - Tengboche - Dingboche - Lobuche - Gorak Shep - Kalpatthar

Way down : Pheriche - Kengjuma - Monjo - Lukla - Kathmandu

The route has earned the stamps of approval from fellow trekkers who have endured the curve balls thrown by the mighty Himalayas and also blissfully lounged in the etherealness these mountains have to offer. Also, this is the most popular route as it is the most direct route from the Lukla to Kalpatthar.

A 30-45min flight(at the hands of weather) from Kathmandu to Lukla over the colossal mountains marks the beginning of the EBC trek. After a three hour trek to Phadking, head to the Namche Bazaar the next day. Namche Bazaar is one of the biggest rest areas and housing markets with the famous settlement of Sherpas.

Move to Tyengboche, and rest a day in Dingboche for acclimatization and can decide to hike either Chhukung or Nagarzhang Peak.

Next, hike along the Khumbu glacier to reach Lobuche which offers mindboggling views of Nuptse. Cross the Changri glacier to reach Gorak Shep, and revel in the happiness of making it to the Everest Base Camp.

A small trek to the Kalpatthar opens door to some of the most picturesque views of the Everest.

The last leg of the trek involves trekking back to Pheriche, Thyangboche through the village of Monjo and finally reach Lukla to complete this consuming, enchanting and life-changing trek.

Jiri to Everest Base Camp (20-21 days)

This route is tailor-made for the seasoned adventurer who has previously endured a multitude of experiences at the hands of the mountains. The hike is estimated to approximately take 20-21 days. This route is the one of the less traversed as the most popular route is the Solu-Khumbu trek to the Everest base camp. The first phase of this journey begins at Jiri and ends at Cheplung with this part of the journey earning a reputation of being strenuous as it is riddled with narrow roads, steep ascents of 1200m and descents up to 1000m.

This is followed by walking through the mountain villages like Bupsa in the near vicinity of Dughla savoring in the tranquility of the snow-capped mountains. The Dudh-Koshi river (translates to the Milk river) weaves its magic and is truly a sight to behold. From this point onwards, a large part of this journey is uphill until one arrives at the Lukla airstrip after which the Lukla itinerary as mentioned above is applicable.   

Tumlingtar to Everest Base Camp (~23 days)

The journey kickstarts at Tumlingtar in Eastern Nepal and takes about 9 days to reach Lukla. This is also one of the routes less taken by trekkers as this trail requires a considerable amount of fitness and stamina. Much to the dismay of the trekkers, the level of comfort is pretty rudimentary when compared to the other routes. En route, the sheer glory of nature with lush green paddy fields, rhododendrons, and pine pristine forests can be witnessed. One of the redeeming features of this route is the fact that it offers a little more time to get accustomed to the weather conditions as it is warm in the initial stages and gets colder at a steady rate.

Besides the plethora of flora and fauna, the Buddhist monasteries and delightful natives extending their warmth in the harshest of times makes it a blessed experience. The sight of these mountains after a painstaking trek promises to render you speechless and cherish the whole experience with fond nostalgia.



Gokyo Lakes trek (16-17days)

Way Up: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phadking-Namche Bazaar-Dole-Machchhermo- Gokyo-Gokyo Ri- Cholla pass- Lobuche- Gorak shep- Kalpatthar

Way down: Pheriche - Kengjuma - Monjo - Lukla - Kathmandu

The Gokyo Trek takes about 2-3 days more than the quintessential EBC route or the Classic EBC route. This trek offers  bewitching views of the Gokyo lake with the most alluring hues of blues and also beats the blues of having to trek in a populated route. The trek quintessentially begins with trekking from Lukla to Phadking and then divert at Dole which further leads to Gokyo, one of the highest settlements. The highlight of this trek is the ascent to Gokyo Ri as it offers some of the most enthralling views of the peaks of The Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu. Get set to be spellbound by the serenity of the lake.

Traverse the Cholla pass to finally join with The Quintessential Route/ The Classic Route to return to Lukla.

Whether it’s the road not taken or the path less travelled or the most recommended route, just pack your bags with the zeal to conquer the peaks because this trek is like no other!








  1. What is the best season to map out your trek? Can you climb year-round?

Your entire experience depends on whether the weather will play by your side. If you’re going to be a spectator of the spectacle, you must strike the right time window. Speaking of time, it is indispensable for you to know the issues concerning trekking in certain weather conditions and how to work around it.

Pin your calendars at the best time of the year to go for the big adventure. While the weather in the mountains can be unpredictably mischievous, it is not as gloomy or freezing as one might think. The temperature generally keeps to the extremes, with cold nights and warm days which could almost be passed off as sunny. It gets warmer during the summer time with temperatures rising up to about 12°C (22°F) which is colder than other places like Lhasa.

The best time for mountaineers to venture out on the Everest base camp trek is from April to May and from September to November. The time from April to May provides an excellent environment to trek with clear skies, brighter days and warmer weather conditions. Since it is the end of winter, occasional light showers can be expected, however, most days would be dry and favorable. For those of you who are botanical enthusiasts, you can look out for the cheerful Rhododendrons in full blossom during the month of April.

The time of the year between September to November tends to be a bit busy, since it is a little after the monsoon and before the bitter winter takes over. If you have a zest for mountaineering activities, this would be the apt time to actually meet people attempting the summit in full gusto and to get a dose of the adrenaline rush during the climbing expeditions. You might also enjoy a chance to spend the night at base camp with an expedition team. Team up with our adventure experts who chalk this out for you to experience this in absolute tranquility.  

You can visit and go camping at the Everest Base Camp during these two periods as you will have ample opportunities to catch an unperturbed, spectacular view of the Mount Everest.

Winter starts from December through March. Although it is colder, the view clears out more and lets you soak in the Everest to greater extent. The days will actually be quite wonderful and warm if the sun is out. It will snow during the month of December, January, and February. No matter what, please make sure that you stay warm and dry as the weather can be really unpredictable. The fickle-minded temperatures can go as high as 20°C and as stoop as low as -15°C.

The months from November to January are the coldest. But if you are the tough, impulsive adventurer who likes the taste of a challenge, there’s no stopping you. The extent of the cold weather depends primarily on how high you want to trek. The temperatures at Everest Base Camp at night can range from -20 to -30 degree celsius. However, if you decide to spend your time down in the valleys, the winter is a lot easier on you and the temperatures are considerably moderate. Another significant point to make note of is that during this period, the days are much shorter and routes over any high passes such as the Gokyo trail or Mera Peak trek, will remain closed.

The monsoon period, from June to August is characterized by short, sharp, torrential downpours. You will not find any of the tea houses or trails as they begin to close for the season in June. Hikers looking to trek high are seen during these months, but there are many chances that you will encounter rains or very heavy snowfall. Foreign trekkers usually do not hike during the monsoons as mud, rain, leeches and lack of mountain views make it a good recipe for a distressed experience. However, if you are keen on trekking Nepal at this time, it is strongly recommended that you look at the Annapurna region which offers much drier conditions during the summer months.



  1. Would you need a guide and how should you choose one?

 

Lose yourself to the Himalayas, but not to the tricky circumstances it can put you through. Now, do you need a guide to work around the pitfalls during the trek or can you fend for yourself? Should you pick a Sherpa guide or a western guide and what is the difference between them in the first place? Read on to stay safe and informed.

The first question that might strike you is whether or not you need a guide. Generally, it costs around 15-30 USD per day to hire a guide. The common guide to trekker ratio is around 1-5, which lets you share your guide with other trekkers, if allowed by the agency. Well, for climbs that you have already seen through before, you could go with a buddy. If you’re venturing out on new climbs or are picking a new trail in an unfamiliar location, it would be very helpful to use a guide. You will need to rely on their expertise in logistics to begin with. Whatever the height you are ascending, you will need to know what you’re doing at every step and take the time to arrange all the details without missing out on anything important and a local guide is the best person to help you around with these things. Leaving the tiniest detail to chance can also prove to be devastating, hence using a guide will be your most prudent option. You will be amazed with the amount of gear, food and supplies that it requires when you’re climbing. It would be a disaster if you don't have enough rope or fuel for the stove on your summit. Hence, it is crucial to be accompanied by a guide, not just when something goes wrong, but to hope everything goes right. There have been several non-guided expeditions that only provide basic services to and from base camp, but these don't come with any kind of personal support on the mountain during the climb. Such attempts by several people are sadly unsuccessful. With a low rate of summit success, the safety is compromised and the risks of climbing Mount Everest are enhanced. The stats show that about 50% of non-guided climbers are successful and the percentage for guided climbers it is about 75%.

If you are planning to hire a guide to climb and if you’re expecting him to really pay close personal attention to you during the climb, then you have two choices, either hire a western guide or a Sherpa guide. A lot of agencies will offer many great western guide’s services for you to avail, but you could also opt for a private guide. While they are great at their job, they come at a higher price range. However, if you want to hire Sherpa guides who have summited the Everest, you can always do so. They speak reasonable English, and can work reasonably well with foreign climbers as well. The bottom line is that a western guide is usually from other countries like the UK, US, New Zealand etc., and are not native to the country you are climbing in. A Sherpa or a local guide gives you the home advantage wherein he/she knows the place and is well aware of the risks that comes with it.

Would a western guide be more suitable for the summit or a local one? Here are a few things to look out for when you are picking your guide. It would be better if you ask as many questions as possible at the guide service center, rather than accepting their claims of having the highest success rates. Try to dig out more information about the guide helping with your climb. Enquire about his experience and the number of trips he has guided and not just climbed. Make sure he has guided the trips to the mountains you are interested in.

If a guide has not been scheduled, a guide service will give you the names of 1-3 potential guides. It would really work in your favor if you can find out if the organization has more than one guide who can lead a particular climb in case of emergencies like injuries, illness etc. Another very important thing to check is about the organization’s safety record and if they have liability insurance for your trip. Other legality issues to be clarified are the duration for which the organization has conducted the business, whether or not they are permitted to climb the particular area that you’re interested in, and are they eco- friendly with their methods?

Get information from multiple sources and do not rely on something like the internet, which can be excellent, but is sometimes an unverified, hence unreliable resource. List your priorities such as cultural interests, summit success rates, safety etc., and question the guide service about those interests.  Learn about the decision making processes of a guide, which will help you build your trust in them.

It is good to find out about the other team members on the trip you are interested in. Chatting with former climbers, trekkers or students to get information about that company can be truly interesting. Last but not the least, ask why or how cost effective the guide service that you are buying is. With a guide or without one, go prepared and follow safety and a safe pace, conquer that mountain and go back again.

 

  1. How do I prepare myself for the EBC?

The Everest base camp trek isn’t the sort of lazy dream that lingers on your bucket list until the day you chose to act on it on an impulse. You might be a couple of years away from actualizing it, but you’ll need to prepare starting from today. Your ‘one day’ and your ‘day one’ can’t be very far apart.

Start with getting a complete health checkup done.  You will need good arteries for your quest and a healthy body on the whole. So start bracing your physical system already. Blocked arteries are the last thing you need on Everest. Checking your cholesterol levels would be highly recommended. If not at a normal level, it generally takes about 3 to 4 months to reverse.

The cold, dry air might trigger asthma, although it could sometimes cure it too. But it’s always better to get yourself checked for it. It will be wise to check your heart, lungs and brain as well. Work on lowering your blood pressure, since the blood will thicken at high blood pressures, which tends to pressurize the weak veins. This can leave you completely vulnerable to frost bites.

Good circulation is essential. You have a definite advantage if you’re a non-smoker, because smoking works against your precious arteries. The ‘never too late’ theory does not apply when it comes to your health checkup. You cannot decide on it right before the climb. Instead, you’ll need to gradually work on your health to get in good shape and stretch the scope of your body.

                                                                                                                             

Imagine yourself at an altitude of 17,598 ft. (5,364 meters) and at temperatures plummeting as low as 11 degrees or lesser. Picture that you’ve hiked for over 5 to 6 hours, while carrying 25 to 30 pounds more or less. Has this thought challenged your fitness level yet? Don’t worry, you can make your trek easier with a proper training and by reaching a fitness level capable of trekking with a pack on your back.

Being in a good physical condition is one of the most significant aspect for success on a high altitude trek. You should be planning to progressively ramp up your speed, time, and pack weight of weekly training hikes to give yourself a hiking-specific conditioning that should be better than any other type of training. Training for Everest Base Camp should be taken very seriously. A combination of cardiovascular endurance, strength training through strength conditioning, and hiking specific training with a backpack is required to prepare for the trek.

Cardiovascular Training for Base Camp: You will be spending your days walking up the hills with a weighted pack and a few liters of water. Any type of cardiovascular conditioning is considered good for Everest Base Camp. A couple of days will be spent on difficult uphill trekking, so the more you train the better. Cardiovascular conditioning includes activities like running, walking on an inclined treadmill with weights, doing stair stepping or step mill training, trail running, working on an elliptical machine, walking up and down hills and step aerobics classes. Start with a low-impact exercise as it is a great way to start your training. If the season permits, you can also indulge in biking, rowing and swimming. As you get closer to your expedition, be sure that you include spinal-loading cardiovascular exercise such as any of the activities mentioned above. Weight lifting for the upper body is essential. Exercises like walking on the ascender to replicate your climb on the mountain are very helpful. Look up exercises that mimic what you do when you are climbing. You could also look for videos on the internet for some serious training exercises for mountain athletes. Practice wearing a weighted vest to simulate your day pack. This is a good way to build endurance. It is highly recommended that you buy a weight vest that weighs more than your full day pack. This could make your day pack seem lighter in comparison. Either that, or you could wear your packed day pack while you train. This will get your shoulders adjusted to the weight and feel of carrying the additional weight. Mix up the exercises that build up your endurance and choose the few that you enjoy the most. The goal here is to simulate the trek as closely as possible.

Strength training includes training primarily with free weights. This will give you the operational, trekking-specific strength that will help you most in the mountains. The free weight-training requires that you balance the weights just as you manage your own body, along with the added weight of the pack. When starting any strength conditioning program, focus on compound exercises for full-body strength workouts in a week, for 30-45 minutes each. You can do lunges, step-ups, squats, pull-ups, rows, bench presses, dips, pushups, rows, overhead presses and deadlifts.

The aim of strength conditioning is to build a foundation for harder workouts. Having said that, keep the weight light enough to get a good form. As you continue to train, you will shift focus to building strength, strength endurance, and mental and physical stamina. The most important aim of strength training is to be sure you maintain a proper form at all times in order to prevent strain and injury.

Trekking conditions requires steep outdoor hiking trails, gradually increasing your pack weight with each outing until you can reach your target trekking pack weight. Have a reasonable goal to ascend 2,000 to 2,500 feet carrying an average pack of 15-20 pounds in a 2-3 hour period, or approximately 1,000 vertical feet in an hour. Another option for the pack weight is to carry water in containers or collapsible jugs that let you throw the water at the top if needed, to lighten the load for the descent. In each hike, try adding a few pounds until you are comfortable with a 20 pound pack. Then begin increasing the elevation, speed, and mileage. When you can reach 3,500 feet with a 20 pound pack, start decreasing rest breaks and drop the last 5 pounds of pack weight so that you can work on increasing speed. Including interval training in your weekly program is the best training technique used for high altitude climbing. You can do this by climbing up a set of stairs or a steep hill that will allow you to climb steadily for several minutes. While you go up, push as hard as you can, then recoup while coming down, and repeat for about 30-45 minutes. Practice walking downhill in the snow, bend your knees without leaning back, stay upright over your hips, waver, shorten stride, and balance with your arms. Include as many hikes or climbs above 8,000.  Since you will be spending a number of days above 11,000 elevation on this trek, observe how your body responds and work accordingly. While you nurture your body for the adventure, also strengthen yourself mentally for the adversities of the trek.



8.How expensive is it to trek the EBC? (~800 words)

Planning the finances for one of the most famous hikes in the world?

  

The Everest Base Camp(EBC) involves extensive research and comprehensive planning. Rest assured, Everest Base Camp trek will be an eye opener in ways more than one. The EBC planning pans everything from accommodations to permits to transportation to insurance and other logistics.

The cost varies based on the route you choose to traverse, the number of days, whether you want to trek individually or go with a group and your definition of reinforcement.

Whether you are a solo traveller who prefers to regale in serenity of the mountains and conquer the peak on your terms or the trekker who derives strength from being together in a group, the EBC trek has a place for both of you.

Although,trekking alone definitely makes it easy on the pocket and reduces the total cost considerably it has its own shortcomings. We strongly recommend you to weigh the pros and cons of trekking solo or in a group before you make that decision.

 

The following are the expenses that incur during this trek:

FLIGHT EXPENSES

        The flight ticket constitutes the major part of your tour cost. Based on where you are located and where you depart, the flights cost somewhere between $500-$1000. Booking in advance will help you save and garner early bird discounts in addition to giving you plenty of time to train as well.

        If you are trekking solo, the flight from Kathmandu to Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport) costs about $400. If you are going through a travel operator, this is usually included.

VISA EXPENSES

The following costs were correct at time of writing:

- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25

- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40

- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100

Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit, a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, with a nominal charge of US$5 and the requirement of one photo.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is mandatory, please ensure that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

The insurance can cost anywhere between $120 and $150.

EQUIPMENT CHARGES

The trekking equipments such as day pack, sleeping bag, waterproof hiking bikes etc are extremely essential and make this treacherous a slightly easy one, all this at the price of $200 - $500. Also, this varies from person to person since some people already own basics and may require only specific things while some people might need everything from scratch which might cost up to $2000.

TOUR CHARGES

With many tour operators venturing into the arena of trekking all inclusive of internal flights, hotels pre and post trek, the available prices are quite competitive, and can cost anywhere between $1300 - $1600.



FOOD  COSTS

The teahouses in the Everest Base Camp house an assortment of dishes and expansive cuisines. Around $20- $30 on food is the recommended amount you must be considering to spend everyday on food and beverages.

MISCELLANEOUS COSTS

An additional $200 can be kept aside things like tipping, wifi expenses, hot showers, porter charges and for things like electronic charging.

 

TIPS

 

  • Nepal has banned transactions of the old Indian currency notes of denomination of INR 500 and INR 1000
  • Avoid traveller’s cheque as much as possible, as exchanging them is a time consuming process and is not accepted in remote villages.
  • Always keep extra cash for any emergencies such as floods, landslides or situations like civil unrest.





  1. What to pack for the EBC trek? (~900 words)

 

It’s about time you pack your bag and get started for the trek.

Since the trek lasts easily around three weeks, carrying everything essential as one deems fit is the norm. A little research regarding the necessary things to carry will come handy.

One of the most important thing to keep in mind while packing is the weight of the backpack because every additional kilo on your back makes the trekking a lot more excruciating.

One must also carry all the required medication and electrolytes as the availability of them is quite limited as we go higher up the mountains.

Backpack: The first item in your cart while you begin shopping must be a comfortable yet sturdy backpack which can withstand a weight of 15 kilos or more entirely dependent on your height and strength.

Day backpack: If the porter or a yak is carrying your backpack then you can carry this lightweight day pack to carry important stuff like snacks, sunscreen lotion, your camera, personal items like passport, money and a hat.

Hiking boots:Carry those boots which has withstood the tests of time and has managed to extend its comfort time and again. Also carry some extra laces.

Gaiters: These are made from a waterproof material and extend up from boot to calves. They prevent water, mud, dust and small stones from getting into the boot.



Clothes for hiking:

 

The most important thing to remember while figuring out what to wear during the hike is by layering. Layering works by allowing moisture to pass from one layer to the next which is called as wicking. Weather changes drastically with the ascents and descents across varied altitudes and layering has proven to help in keeping the body warm.

 

Other clothing to be included: Short sleeve hiking shirt, long sleeve hiking

shirt or a sweater, one down jacket for when it gets really cold, a hooded one to keep the head and ears warm, a lightweight wind jacket which will be required as one goes higher up the mountain. A pair of hiking pants, 2 to 3 pairs of hiking socks to keep the feet warm, 2-3 pairs of warm thermal socks to withstand the cold near the base camp. Thermal socks provides great cushioning for the foot, are super warm and have flat seams. A buff or a woollen hat is a must to keep the ears warm, a pair of thick gloves and pair of thin gloves, thermal underwear, a rain poncho and a backpack rain cover in the case of rain, sunglasses to protect from the bright light reflecting the snow, and a digital watch.

 

Since you will be staying in lodges, you would need a different set of

clothes to wear, such as: Thermal underwear, two fleece sweaters, one light and another heavier to help one beat the freezing temperatures, a pair of pants which  can be used to layer along with the thermal underwear, a pair of warm socks, and a pair of warm slippers to wear to the toilet.



The following is required for sleeping:

 

A sleeping bag: This is an absolute requirement as it gets extremely cold at night. Make sure that it is a four season bag and has a rating of at least -10 degree C. A sleeping bag should ideally have a mummy-shape with an insulated hood and drawcord so that it fits the contours of your body, a two-way zipper for better insulation works just fine. You will also need a pillow case, travel sheet, get this if you are very particular or have rented a sleeping bag, ear plugs, and an eye mask for a peaceful slumber after a tiresome day of hiking.



Snacks:

Oatmeal, honey and raisins, just in case you need to make your own food, salted peanuts, snickers bars, granola bars, protein bars, cookies, instant coffee and tea bags, instant noodles and chocolate.

TIP : It is much more pocket friendly to buy all of the above beforehand as it is expensive to buy all of that in Kathmandu.



Toiletries

Baby wipes, baby powder, hand sanitizer which will safely be the replacement of water as it freezes with increase in the height.

Shampoo, travel towel, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, deodorant, contacts and glasses, hair brush, floss, face wash, pocket mirror, toothpaste and toothbrush.






Medicines

 

  • Diamox
  • Athletic tape
  • Laxatives and Loperamide
  • Paracetamol
  • Antibiotics
  • Lots of bandages (for blisters)
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Iodine
  • Throat Lozenges
  • ORS or any other Electrolyte powder
  • Vitamin C



Get lots of vitamin C pills as the availability of vegetables or fruits is quite limited

around the trail area. The electrolyte powder is the knight in shining armour that rescues one from dehydration during the hike.



Electronics

 

  • Local NCell SIM Card
  • Camera with a charger
  • Phone with a charger
  • Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel and the Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Pack.



This really helps when you are camping at EBC trail as the costs for charging increases higher up the trail.

  • A laptop(not mandatory)








Essential documents

  • TIMS Card. This is absolutely essential, one can buy a TIMS Card at the Nepal Tourism Board office in Kathmandu for 2000 rupees.
  • Sagarmatha National park permit can be bought at the Nepal Tourism Board office or one can also buy at the Sagarmatha permit.
  • Passport
  • Cash

 

Other essential items

  • Lifestraw Water Filter Bottle: which helps in making water potable by

filtering 99% of the bacteria.

Even chloride pills can be used but if there are problems with the taste, then

one could use the Steripen with enough Lithium batteries.

  • Trekking poles. These make hiking easier, by reducing the impact on your knees while both going up and climbing down.
  • Pocket knife
  • Duct tape
  • Safety whistle
  • Head lamp: You will need this at times when you are trekking in the early hours when it is still very dark and to go to toilet at night.
  • Lots of toilet paper
  • Detailed map: The map published by Himalayan Map House widely available in Thamel.

 

Despite numerous checks and adherence to the checklist, fret not if something was forgotten as most of the things are available in Kathmandu.

10.What are the health risks while on the climb and how to prevent them?

 

To put it simply, your health defines your trek. Your experience, the negative consequences, the risk margin- it all boils down to the scope of your body and how well you can adapt to the harshness that's in store for you. Most novice trekkers have reported the base camp trek to be the most physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting experience of their lifetime. But if you cannot even out the rough edges, you can always tiptoe around them. Here's a little heads up on the various health threats you might come across and how you can sidestep them.

The altitude might put you on top of the world, but it can also send your health and fitness rolling downhill. Altitude sickness makes you susceptible to several health concerns and also wages a tough emotional battle against you. It can be categorized as either AMS (acute mountain sickness), HACE ( high altitude cerebral edema) or HAPE ( High altitude pulmonary edema). AMS is the most commonly observed form of altitude sickness. HACE is a condition where the brain stops its normal functionality and occurs when the body is persistently exposed to acute mountain sickness. HAPE occurs if excessive fluid accumulates in your lungs. HACE and HAPE puts the essentials of your system at risk and can even be fatal if not attended to immediately and effectively. Look out for the symptoms that characterise this sickness, such as extreme drowsiness, uneasiness, confusion, breathlessness, coughing fits, vomiting, headache and severe weakness. However, do not be afraid of a little headache which is quite common considering the terrain and altitude.

So how can you battle this largely inevitable sickness? Firstly, a slow and gradual ascent will give your body enough time to acclimatize or adapt to the unwelcoming environment.  Smoking and consumption of alcohol can aggravate it by compromising your respiratory and circulatory systems as well as causing your body to dehydrate . Also, binge on your food and sleep in order to stay sane and fight the pain. Always carry Diamox to wave off the uneasiness.

The Everest base camp trek is a hot favourite amongst trekkers, beginners, climbers and enthusiasts from across the globe. The trail is thus well defined and quite friendly (at most times). But the chances of bruises, injuries, minor gashes and sprains are ineradicable when it comes to treks. However, loss of life and limb to such circumstances are very rare. Considering that the trail involves shrubbery, forests, glacial lakes etc, it serves your best interests to stay equipped and precautious at all times. If you've hired a licensed trekking guide, they would have undergone training in first aid procedures and would also carry on them a first aid kit that can serve several primary medical concerns. They are trained to rise to the situation and take the right decisions. In case of an extremely ill-fated incident, you will be airlifted to Kathamandu for complete medical attention. If you're trekking alone( which is not recommended unless you are very confident and familiar with the trail), your first aid kit is indispensable and a basic knowledge of first aid procedures is crucial.

Another major concern is hygiene. Health and hygiene work hand in hand. Limited resources will sometimes force you to compromise on hygiene and comfort. The Everest base camp can be crowded, especially in the glorified seasons of the year. A shower can be really expensive and is not a very welcoming thought at such low temperatures. Most people go without taking a shower or doing their laundry. Waste isn't disposed in the most appropriate manner either. To sum it up, personal hygiene takes an unfortunate backseat. Moreover, there are chances of catching a disease that another trekker brings in, especially because of deteriorating body immunities at such altitudes.

Hydration is a significant factor while trekking, because your body dehydrates at a much faster pace at higher altitudes. You would need to drink approximately five litres of water on a daily basis. But you will be taking a gamble with your health if you chose to rely on running taps or water stored in buckets. But bottled water isn't really a feasible option either, as it is an expensive source and leads to further pollution. Remember that the price tag on your resources will vary exponentially as you ascend higher up. Your options get thinner and your best shot is to purify your water for yourself. The first thought that strikes is boiling. Although it isn't friendly to the environment, you could boil your water by burning wood in the lodges. You could also use chlorine purification tablets that are available in Kathmandu. Pop one pill in one litre of water and wait for an hour. The tablets might leave your water with a hint of the disconcerting taste of chlorine, but they offer the safest and most efficient solution to water management on your trek. PS: The water in the tea served at the tea houses isn't likely to be purified.

The trek doesn't have it easy on your tummy. Trekkers commonly face gastrointestinal issues that can be very unsettling. So, exercise caution on your food and always stay equipped with medicines for stomach related illnesses. Catching a cold is another common health issue with trekkers, owing to the blowing winds, dusty landscape, awfully low temperatures and low immunities at higher altitudes.

These innumerable risk factors and health issues might make you question whether or not you are cut out for the trek in the first place. But there's nothing a good training schedule cannot do to enhance your fitness. Despite the struggle, we can ensure you that regret will never be amongst the multitude of things you will be taking back home with you.

Unlike an exotic trip to maybe Europe, the Everest trek is not an experience you buy, but an experience you earn.

Also the mountains might call everyone, but only those with the zest to reach the zenith can conquer it. Here's hoping that you add this life transforming chapter to your story.