The 101 on Trekking in the Everest Base Camp Region

Above Pheriche, Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
So much more than Base Camp

A Basic Overview To Everest Base Camp Trekking 

Maybe you’ve just returned from hiking to spectacular Machu Picchu and are keen to try the Everest Base Camp trek. Or you’ve been thinking about it for years but you know next to nothing about it, this post is for you.

Decide when and where you will trek twelve months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, research and train whether you are trekking with or without a tour operator. Being prepared for what the trek is like this is critical. Mental preparation is everything. Everything.

Basic Points About the EBC Region when you know absolutely nothing

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The EBC Trek in 20 Photos From Slate Paths to Slippery Scree Shows the Degrees of Difficulty

How Difficult is the EBC Trek ?The trail in 20 photos

It’s about what you are walking on…

EBC Trek almost to Base Camp

The last few kilometres to Base Camp on slippery scree. But let’s start at the beginning

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Beautiful One Day Breathtaking the Next

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Superlatives

Above Pheriche, EBC Trek, Nepal

From the moment you walk out of Lukla to trek to Everest Base Camp the views are beautiful. The higher you go the more amazing the views, higher again the views become breathtaking panoramas. Continue reading

Things You Should Know about Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp
Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

If someone says that they are trekking to EBC it doesn’t mean they have to sleep in a tent or are intending to climb Mount Everest.

It is not normal walking and Diamox is the key to managing altitude. Make sure you have it an I would tend to follow the trekking guides’ recommendation, as in experienced guides who lead treks on a regular basis. A slow trek is key to getting there without be sick. Altitude headaches can be really horrible. I’ve heard and read. We didn’t have any.

about Kathmandu, trekking to EBC and Nepal in general.

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Step Training? Affirmative

Three Months Until Your EBC Trek? Get Training

Do I need to include steps in my training ? You bet. By the end of your training you should be able to do 1 hour of steps with a ten minute break in the middle.

Main Everest Base Camp Trail between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche treacherous steps but a great view.

There’s the man with the vision and the all the plans. Trek to Everest Base Camp, Nepal. He had been to trek the Annapurna circuit in the 80s and he knew there is a lot of uneven ground so he insisted on finding uneven hills to train on and lots of stairs too.

And stairs were in abundance …..

Between Lukla and Phakding
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Todd Samson and How Not to Trek in the Himalayas

Todd Samson’s Salute to Sherpas and Climbing Lobuche

todd-samson

What Todd Samson has been getting up to lately is far from tame. Todd Samson is an Australian Canadian television celebrity is currently in a show called Body Hack.

Each episode looks at a different group of people who are involved in extreme activity and how the body copes with it. Taking it one step further Todd Samson walks in their shoes for some time. The Nepalese episode looked at the life of the Sherpa people who work as porters along the Everest Base Camp Trail.

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At the Top of Kala Patthar

Video

I made it. I climbed to Kala Patthar the highlight of the Everest Base Camp trek. The video of me reaching the top, breathless and exhausted.

Reminiscing the Trip of My Life

IMG_1809
The Best Travel Adventure

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

I had travelled through the Sahara and had explored Timbuktu, had marvelled at Iguazu Falls and the Perito Moreno Glacier. I had lived and experienced life in Milan and Buenos Aires. I was about to set out on a trek that would be the travel adventure of my life, but I didn’t know it.

I sat crying on our couch. My husband and trekking partner wanted to go out on a final training session. I was exhausted from training five times a week and I wanted to cry even at the thought of it. So I cried. He’d pushed it too far. He designed the training plan so we would make it to Everest Base Camp without feeling pain all the way. I had named him The Trainer he had trained us so well.

He had also researched, planned and organised the trek. Now he was weighing my pack and contents and being tough like the The Trainer could be. I could take 5.5 kilos in my back pack and my little pot of lip moisturiser had not made the cut I cut. I would be carrying it up the hills. So I sat on the couch crying with exhaustion and at not being able to take my only luxury item on a trek I didn’t want to go on in the first place.

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Bucket Lists and Difficult Journeys

Trekking to Everest Base Camp – Are You Ready?

You don’t need to be an athlete nor a mountain climber.

You don’t have to be seasoned hiker either. For many people who trek to Base Camp it is their first experience of anything like this. I know because I was one of these people.

With Training Everest Base Camp is achievable for the average person

Training before you go is highly recommended. Your training is part of the bigger journey. It certainly was part of mine. The Trainer kept reminding me, you know the quote, the journey is not just about the destination. Oh and the question of age. I’m in my fifties and there were plenty of people older than me on the trail.

Above the yak pastures on the trail to Dingboche.
One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.

If you are healthy, have trained and mentally prepared Everest Base Camp is possible. Continue reading

The Altitude Rule and Our Diamox Experience

The Altitude Rule – the Key Factor

The golden rule is not to sleep more than 300 metres higher each day. Sticking to the rule the Trainer planned a sixteen days trek which meant staying in Dughlia. Not the most beautiful place and with only two lodges. Most treks stop for lunch here and then continue on to Lobuche.

We  experienced no headaches. Our itinerary was a slow trek. The night we factored in Khumjung gave us an extra day to acclimatise at a slightly higher altitude after our two nights in Namche Bazaar.

Bistari, bistari – slowly, slowly our porter used to say. And we did go slowly and rested regularly. It is not a race. We took time to savour the amazing views. We kept hydrated and didn’t drink alcohol on the trek, not counting my Mohito in Namche on the way back.

Acclimatisation days are important for day walks to a higher altitude. Then you sleep at the same altitude a second night.

Don’t Leave Home For Everest Base Camp Without Diamox

Everyone has different advice about Diamox. This post is how we managed the altitude and the Diamox.

Advice – Diamox is your Friend

People following our trek to Everest Base Camp know the Trainer was also the researcher extraordinaire. I found printed information he had and have linked the sites at the end. Trekking companies often have information too.

Advice from your Doctor

Visit your doctor for advice. A doctor at the clinic we visit had been to Base Camp three times. His advised us to not take the Diamox too early and only if we needed it. He reasoned taking it too early didn’t allow any reserve to fall back on. He suggested if we had problems to take the Diamox, descend, sleep lower and come back up. Time permitting this is a good plan.

Advice before Leaving Kathmandu

The company who organised our porter, Lukla flights and TIMS cards brought our tickets to our hotel. We had met Doma who manages the business in Kathmandu in 2013. This time her husband accompanied her. Lhakpa is usually out  with a group trekking somewhere. His advice was to definitely start taking half a Diamox twice daily at Dingboche (4,000 metres) if we weren’t already taking it.

So what did we do?

The Trainer smokes but he is very fit. He started taking half a Diamox twice a day in Namche Bazaar. I had decided to take our doctor’s advice but changed my mind to take Lhakpa’s advice with his experience of many treks. So what did I do? Altitude can affect your sleep. You momentarily stop breathing and then your body wakes you. A bit scary and annoying. The trainer with his husband hat on suggested taking the Diamox purely to sleep better. I started taking half a tablet twice daily in Phortse (I think) two nights before Dingboche and slept much better. The trade off is Diamox makes you wee more . So read all the info, get medical advice, guide’s advice then do what feels right at the time, all things considered.

Useful Links

Indiana University Health Center – Diamox 

The Travel Doctor – Altitude or Mountain Sickness

Interested in reading my packing list?

Read about our acclimatisation day in Namche Bazaar or
our acclimatisation day in Dingboche which was a big walk.

Day Twelve Gorak Shep (5170m) – Everest Base Camp (5300m) – Lobuche

Slip Sliding Away at Everest Base Camp

The Walk You Have To Do

The walk into Everest Base Camp took me by surprise as I hadn’t read the section in the guide book. The track isn’t much of a track, making the walk a little crazy. At the end you just clamber over boulders and slip everywhere. But that’s getting a little ahead.

Almost at Everest Base Camp
Insane trail to Everest Base Camp

The photo shows the middle section of the trail which had lots of boulders and scree. A defined path becomes non-existent, so we headed in a general direction picking our way as best we could. And following our trusty Porter Guide, of course. Because of clambering over boulders, I developed blisters on my toes. Applying band aids before setting out is probably a good idea.

EBC has the reputation of looking very dull. Most trekkers visit it in the afternoon when the mountains can shade the area. We took the advice to visit in the morning and with the light it was quite lovely.

Exploring Everest Base Camp
Large boulder perched on ice above a small stream
Exploring the Everest Base Camp Area
Exploring the Everest Base Camp area
Everest Base Camp Area
Our Porter Guide Basanta exploring
Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp
Tents for the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

I plan to write a post about the runners and the marathon as they were a feature of our trek. We bumped into them several times along the trail much to the Trainer’s delight.

The Main Everest Base Camp Trail’s highlight is the view of Mt. Everest and the Himalaya Range from the top of the hill Kala Patthar. Not everyone has heard of Kala Patthar. However, Everest Base Camp is famous, so it’s a must do. Or is it? I felt uneasy at Base Camp, being directly underneath where the 2015 avalanche came off Mt. Pumori into Base Camp (or so I was told). If I go back I would climb Kala Patthar twice, climbing it once in the afternoon and again the next morning at sunrise.

The triumphant team of three, lined up to take the obligatory photo by the sign and flags.

We Three at EBC
The Trainer, Me and the Porter with the Yellow Wig at Everest Base Camp
At Everest Base Camp
Climb Every Mountain – The Open Door Singer’s sign at EBC

The sign for my choir had its big moment here. 130 people sang Climb Every Mountain to me before I left Melbourne. It was very special.

The round trip to EBC from Gorak Shep is 8km and takes 6.5 hours. Back at Gorak Shep (the end of the trail and starting point for Kala Patthar and EBC) we had lunch at the lodge where we had slept the night before and left. We headed back down to Lobuche (a 2.5-hour walk) through the long valley that feels like a moonscape. Back in our lodge in Lobuche we ate and went straight to bed. Exhausted but very happy and very pleased with ourselves.

All the training had prepared us well. The trek to Everest Base Camp is more than the walk to that point. It is about the training before hand, getting all the right gear and training with it, the research and preparation and then the trek itself. It is a long journey in many ways, for which you are rewarded in just as many ways.

Now we just had to get back down to Lukla in one piece.

Day Five Namche Bazaar to Tengboche 2015 Trek

Two Hours to Tengboche

I knew that Day 3 of our itinerary, climbing to Namche Bazaar would be strenuous. We trained well and  though it wasn’t easy we managed the climb well.

When we set out two days later for Tengboche, Sam told me it would be a relatively easy day. That proved far from the case. We had a breather at the top of Namche after a steep climb out of the amphitheatre – shaped town. After a few more challenging hills with spectacular views, the track really leveled out. That bit was the honeymoon period.

The trail then descends 570 metres to the river after crossing this, there is a relentless 750 metres 2-3 hours climb (according to the guide book) to Tengboche. I am sure this section would have taken us much longer.

The funniest bit was the signage. Not far from Namche there was sign “2 hours to Tengboche”. Two hours further along the track there was another sign “2 hours to Tengboche” and then about another two hours further on, you guessed it – “2 hours to Tengboche”. Hence the comment on the video and the post title. At one point we stopped to catch our breath. Another trekker was doing the same with his guide waiting for him. When we asked the guide how much longer to the top, what do you think he replied? I couldn’t believe it.

On that day I learned mental preparation is everything. I had heard it said in relation to physical challenges but didn’t relate to it until then. For our next trek to Everest Base Camp we will be prepared for the two hours to Tengboche. In fact we are changing the itinerary to start the trek from Khunde or Khumjung and not Namche. The other tip is don’t believe the estimated trekking time between the towns and definitely don’t believe the signage.

Day 5 Namche Bazaar to Tengboche 2013 Trek

Video

Two Hours to Tengboche

I knew climbing to Namche Bazaar on Day Three of our itinerary, was going to be a strenuous. We trained well for the trek and though it wasn’t easy we took the climb in our stride.

When we set out two days later for Tengboche, the Trainer told me it would be a relatively easy day. That proved far from the case. We had a breather at the top of Namche after a steep climb out of the amphitheatre-shaped town.

Namche Bazaar Everest Base Camp Trek
Namche Bazaar

After a few more challenging hills with spectacular views, the track really levelled out. That bit was the honeymoon period.

The trail then descends 570 metres to the river, after crossing this, there is a relentless 750 metres two to three hours climb (according to the guide book) to Tengboche. I am sure this section took us much longer.

The biggest problem was the signage. Not long out of Namche there was sign which said “2 hours to Tengboche”. Two hours further along the track there was another sign “2 hours to Tengboche” and then about another two hours further on, you guessed it – “2 hours to Tengboche”. Hence the comment on the video and the post title. At one point after the third sign, we stopped to catch our breath. Another trekker was doing the same with his guide waiting for him. When we asked the guide how much longer to the top, what do you think he replied? I couldn’t believe it.

That day I learnt mental preparation is everything. I had heard it said in relation to physical challenges but had never really experienced it. For our next trek to Everest Base Camp we will be prepared for the “two hours to Tengboche”. In fact we are changing the itinerary to start the trek from Khunde or Khumjung and not Namche. The other tip is don’t believe the estimated trekking time between the towns and definitely don’t believe the signage.