Everest Base Camp Trek is one of Nepal’s biggest claims for mountain lovers, and one of the most magical and overwhelming places in the entire country. The fact that thousands of people do it every year does not mean that the experience is not unique. Step on the Himalayas, tour the Sagarmatha National Park, the Khumbu Valley and cover every stage that the great climbers of history have passed before starting their expedition to the top of Everest (or Chomolungma, as the Nepalese call it) It reinforces the feeling of being witness to a unique experience and within the reach of few.
However, preparing to trek to the Base Camp, located at 5,365 meters high, requires taking into account several issues.
Best time to go for Everest Base Camp Trek?
The high season is the months from March to May, which coincides with the time of expeditions and therefore there are more people coming and going, and October to November. Although by mid-September with a little luck the weather can be similar to October and the influx of people is lower.
Can anyone go Everest Base Camp without preparation?
Definitely not. During the trekking people of all types and of all ages are seen, but it is necessary to be minimally fit and have some capacity for suffering. The stages do not have excessive unevenness, they are around 400-600 positive meters per day, which translates into about 5-6 hours of daily walking. But you have to keep in mind that completing the trekking involves walking about 140 kilometers, so the accumulation of days and, above all, the height and lack of oxygen make the road more demanding. That is, in addition to the physical level, it is important to be mentally prepared and to assume calmly that the symptoms that appear are within normality.
Is it mandatory to take a guide?
No. You can do the trekking on your own, carrying your backpack; hire only the service of a carrier, or opt for the complete package of hiring guide and carrier. It is a very personal decision. In our case, we went on our own with our own luggage, but the decision is made, it is advisable to contact an agency that is our reference point in case of any problem. In Thamel, there are hundreds of them, who are happy to arrange Base Camp Trekking.
Travel with margin days
The trekking starts from Lukla, a town with no road connection that is accessed by taking an internal flight from Kathmandu. The problem is that the airport in this small town is considered one of the most dangerous in the world. Its track barely reaches 500 meters and is cut suddenly giving way to emptiness. This means that if the clouds settle there can be cancellations for days. That is why it is important, as far as possible, to travel to Nepal with several days of margin to avoid having to return home without having completed the route due to lack of time.
Altitude sickness in Everest Base Camp Trek
Headache is the most common symptom as we gain height. Tingling in feet and hands, lack of appetite, somewhat agitated breathing and agitated pulse. It is unpleasant but you have to learn to relativize it, as long as serious symptoms such as vomiting, effortless breathing difficulty, confusion, blood expectoration, etc. do not begin to manifest. In fact, mild symptomatology affects even the porters, guides or Nepalese who run the lodges but who live in Kathmandu in the off-season. So above all, it is important not to get nervous.
Thus, once having passed through the Ministry of Tourism to obtain the TIMS (Trekkers Information Management Systems), the permission to be able to carry out the trekking and bought the tickets that are around 300 dollars round trip … The adventure begins!
1. Lukla (2,840 meters) – Phakding (2,610 m.). Three hours. 10 kilometers away
In thirty minutes of clock, the heat and dust of Kathmandu disappear and as soon as you land on the small track of Lukla, the pure air that you breathe attracts attention. The first day of trekking consists of going down 200 meters of unevenness, so it is a good way to prepare the body for the following days. You start to meet other trekkers who are about to finish their journey and a brief crossing of words (“Very hard, but impressive”) makes you want to face the challenge you have ahead with more enthusiasm if possible.
In about three hours we arrive at Phakding, a small town full of lodges (shelters), where we will take the opportunity to start adapting to the Sherpa schedule. At 4:00 pm you will have to choose the dinner menu every day, which is recommended not to be very heavy, and they serve it no later than 7:30 p.m. Oh, and by 8.30 pm, everyone goes to sleep.
2. Phakding (2,610 m.) – Namche Bazaar (3,440 m.). 6 hours. 11 kilometers
In the second stage, the trekking officially begins with a day in which you have to make the greatest positive slope of the entire route, although not the most demanding at least for us. After presenting the TIMS in the town of Monjo and acquiring the permits to enter the Sagarmatha National Park, we follow the path until we see the highest Tibetan bridge we will cross (not too pleasant for the enemies of vertigo, whatever happened ). This is the indicator that we have about two hours of constant rise ahead.
When you exceed three thousand meters a slight headache may appear, so as the Sherpas say, ‘bistare, bistare’ (slowly, slowly). That is, although physically one feels able to climb faster, it is necessary to take into account that the body must get used, so walk slowly, drink about three liters of water a day and take into account the maximum of ‘climb high, sleep low’, (that is, sleep lower than the maximum point at that we have arrived) is essential. Today’s goal is Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpas, located 3,440 meters high, from where we can see Everest for the first time if time permits. The coincidence caused us to stay at the lodge of which Reynhold Mesner was the guide, the first man to make the summit of Everest without oxygen in 1978, although our Sherpa friend had to turn around in Field 3. sleep lower than the maximum point we have reached) is essential.
Today’s goal is Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpas, located 3,440 meters high, from where we can see Everest for the first time if time permits. The coincidence caused us to stay at the lodge of which Reynhold Mesner was the guide, the first man to make the summit of Everest without oxygen in 1978, although our Sherpa friend had to turn around in Field 3. sleep lower than the maximum point we have reached) is essential. Today’s goal is Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpas, located 3,440 meters high, from where we can see Everest for the first time if time permits. The chance caused us to stay at the lodge of which Reynhold Mesner was the guide, the first man to make the summit of Everest without oxygen in 1978, although our Sherpa friend had to turn around in Field 3.
3. Acclimatization in Namche Bazaar.
To make good acclimatization, the morning of the third stage is destined to visit the airfield and the towns of Khumde and Khumjung, where one of the school projects developed by the Edmund Hillary Foundation is located. A very rural area with very friendly people where we stayed for about an hour giving time to our body to get used to being at 3,800 meters, that is, the altitude of the town where we slept the next day. In the afternoon, back in Namche Bazaar, it was a good time to visit one of the most beautiful villages of the entire trekking. It is full of shops, some bars that show films at three in the afternoon, and a lot of life. Any plan will be better than taking a nap that will ruin us being able to sleep and rest at night.
4. Namche Bazaar (3,444 m.) – Tengboche (3,867). 5-6 hours 9 kilometers
The fourth day of hiking will mark a before and after during the trekking. This day starts with several hours down a road with ascending and descending slopes, and after passing through small stupas with some of the most majestic peaks in the background and crossing with several yaks coming and going, the terrain became a somewhat awkward descent from a duration time After crossing a small bridge, we present the TIMS again, to end the day with two hours of continuous and demanding climb, which for us was the hardest of the route for the ten kilos we had on our backs. However, the peace that was breathed upon reaching Tengboche, with its Buddhist temple welcoming you, makes the effort worthwhile. Definitely, one gets used quickly to the Sherpa schedule and by half-past eight the dream begins to enter. The heat from the dining room stove does not reach the rooms, but the blankets that are provided to put them above the sleeping bag help to get warm.
5. Tengboche (3,867 m.) – Dingboche (4,410 m.). 5 hours. 10 kilometers
In the morning a panoramic view dazzles us that the evening clouds of the previous day did not allow us to appreciate. Having breakfast with the summit of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam surrounding us is not something that happens every day and it is difficult to assimilate that you are being a direct witness of those views and especially of that experience. As you observe the highest peak in the world, time progresses and becomes late. It was almost 8.00 and Dingboche, the tallest town in Nepal, had to be set (since from 4,400 onwards they are shelters built exclusively to accommodate mountaineers).
It is a rural village that, in addition to agriculture, lives on trekkings, and which can also boost the curiosity of having one of the largest living rooms in the world. However, After spending the first night over four thousand meters, in addition to the headache, other symptoms may begin to manifest as tingling in the feet and hands, occasional loss of appetite, in addition to what is known as the ‘accordion effect’, that is, waking up Sudden at night with the feeling of not having oxygen. Something unpleasant, but not to worry. What might bother you in the middle of the night is having to go to the WC. It is the direct consequence of having to drink three liters of water a day, but the fact that the bathrooms are normally located in the semi-weather, with the cold weather at that time, makes it a challenge. accordion effect ‘, that is, waking up suddenly during the night with the feeling of not having oxygen.
Something unpleasant, but not to worry. What might bother you in the middle of the night is having to go to the WC. It is the direct consequence of having to drink three liters of water a day, but the fact that the bathrooms are normally located in the semi-weather, with the cold weather at that time, makes it a challenge. accordion effect ‘, that is, waking up suddenly during the night with the feeling of not having oxygen. Something unpleasant, but not to worry. What might bother you in the middle of the night is having to go to the WC. It is the direct consequence of having to drink three liters of water a day, but the fact that the bathrooms are normally located in the semi-weather, with the cold weather at that time, makes it a challenge.
6. Acclimatization in Dingboche
As we did in Namche Bazaar, this time we also climbed a hill that is above the town of Dingboche and that mountaineers usually take advantage of to overcome the 5,000-meter barrier, although bad weather caused us to have to stay at 4,800. In this rural village, there is not much to do in leisure time, beyond walking around the town or reading a book with a ginger tea in the heat of the dining room stove for which dry yak feces are used as fuel.
7. Dingboche (4,410 m.) – Lobuche (4,940). 6-7 hours 8 kilometers
Start a new morning. There is less to reach our goal and after a good breakfast, we begin the day with the sound of rescue helicopters that, like every morning, cross the Khumbu Valley. The road starts with a climb that will be followed by several hours of llaneo until we reach the river that we will have to cross to reach Dougla. It is convenient to make a stop on the road in this place because then we will have a fairly steep climb of about an hour, where the height greatly complicates the climb and the wind does not help at all. Once surpassed, on top, an esplanade converted into a memorial reminds all those who died on their ascent to Everest.
At this point, Lobuche is close but not enough. It is advisable not to trust because, Although the road is flat, it is about an hour and a half walk through a landscape that has stopped being green and has given way to the most common gray rock in the high mountains. Upon arriving in Lobuche we discover that it is nothing more than a set of lodges for mountaineers in the middle of nowhere, but although we feel like staying in the heat of the stove, it is convenient to stretch and approach to contemplate the rocky glacier of Khumbu that borders the 5,000 meters high.
8. Lobuche (4,940 m.) -Gorak Shep (5,164 m.) -Campo Base (5,365 m.) – Gorak Shep (5,164 m.). 8 hours. 10 kilometers
The big day has come! It will be a hard day, very hard, and long but it will be worth it. First, we must reach the shelter of Gorak Shep, located at 5,164 meters. Two hours of walking to travel 4.3 kilometers in which you already begin to pass through areas of a rocky glacier and in which there may be landslides in case of a hot day. Surrounded by seven thousand and with the constant presence of Everest (if the weather permits) we arrive at what will be the place where we will sleep at a higher altitude. We take the opportunity to leave the weight of the backpack, eat something, and without wasting much time we head to Base Camp, where we have another three hours of walking. We cross a sand esplanade and enter the rocky area again.
The immensity of the landscape, together with the effects of height, that over five thousand meters are noticed and much, it makes it difficult to calculate the distance that separates us from our goal. Not without effort, we reach the monolith surrounded by Buddhist flags that welcome us to the famous Everest Base Camp. There we were in an esplanade of ice and rock at 5,365 meters high, where the mountaineers’ shops are installed in expedition season. But in September, specifically on the 13th, that was empty. It is not a place that can be described as beautiful, but its meaning and grandeur overwhelm in a unique way. After a few minutes, other trekkers have arrived who also hug, cry and shout for joy.
The immensity of the landscape is overwhelming and envelops you in such a way that it is impossible to contain the emotion and feel that mixture of pride and satisfaction for all the effort made. But suddenly, a rumble silences everyone and in the distance, a block of ice is seen coming off. We spent a little over an hour, although it seems that time has stopped. The place can’t be more magical but it’s time to return. There are another three hours left and these are going to be hard.
9. Gorak Shep (5,164 m.) – Kala Pattar (5,645 m.) -Panboche (3,900 m.). 12 hours. 23 kilometers
The Base Camp is the most exciting place of all the trekking but where we will get the best views of Everest is without a doubt from the Kala Pattar, a 5,645-meter mountain that is two hours walk from Gorak Shep. Affordable and accessible, although sleeping above five thousand is like a filter that in the morning determines who is able to climb and who is not. Normally the sky is clear and cloudy as the day progresses so it is better to get up early than usual. At 4.30 in the morning, with the only light on the front, the climb begins at a very slow and unhurried pace. At that time the cold squeezes but with the dawn one of the most spectacular panoramas in the world that make you forget the rest was discovered.
However, we must return and undo the route made to date. We want to reduce the return to three days and that implies doubling stages so that the days are longer and heavier. We pass again through Lobuche, Dougla, we cross the endless and windy valley in which Pheriche is located to finally reach Panboche. Many hours of walking, but what is most surprising is how comfortable one feels to four thousand meters after having spent several days over five thousand.
10. Panboche (3,900 m.) – Namche Bazaar (3,440 m.). 6 hours. 13 kilometers
Losing height is noticeable in the rhythm of the stages, although care must be taken because in the descents the knees may begin to suffer. From Pamboche we go to Tengboche, and lightening the way in the descents we arrive in good conditions until Namche Bazaar. We had earned the reward: yak steak.
11. Namche Bazaar (3,440 m.) – Lukla (2,840 m.). 9 hours 18 kilometers
Saying goodbye to Namche Bazaar is a sign that the trekking is about to end. Ahead are 18 kilometers that after about 120 accumulated begin to weigh according to which sections. About four o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived in Lukla, satisfied to have fulfilled the objective, although sorry because that meant putting an end to a unique, unrepeatable and highly recommended experience.