How hard is Everest Base Camp
1.What to expect?
Summiting the highest mountain world is probably in every travel enthusiast's bucket list. And when the trek is viable, it is bound to see a lot of trekkers all year round. Everest Base Camp sees more than thirty thousand tourists every year which makes this trek the most popular in Nepal.
It’s not that every person submits the Everest successfully but the view from the Base Camp is equally serene and standing so close to the tallest snow-flaked mountain is beyond words to describe. So people who love some adrenaline rush and mighty mountains a lot of care to visit the base camp.
There are no roads en route Base Camp so the only way to reach the Base Camp is trekking through the Khumbu Valley from Lukla. The other option is via helicopter which is a rather expensive approach.
If you are a trekking person, it is better to walk as the mountains on the backdrop will accompany you throughout. The trek usually takes 12-14 days but hugely depends upon your trekking caliber. Ascending the higher altitudes, one might be prone to altitude sickness so every viable thing should be done to evade this problem while trekking.
The trek is relatively easy till the base camp as it requires no climbing gears. The paths are mildly strenuous and the Everest Base Camp is very achievable. When you cross paths will old and young, men and women en route, overweight and underweight, you will know all it takes is the determination to complete the journey. But it’s always good to be prepared for the worst and carry the medication and trekking gears with you.
The highest you will reach during the journey is the viewpoint at Kala Patthar which is at the altitude of 5554 meters. Altitude is the most concerning factor and all the other things come second to it. Higher the altitude, the harder the trek is very well justified by this trek.
Trekkers are prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and thus the symptoms if seen should not be taken lightly. After arriving at the Lukla airport, the journey is embarked from 3000 meters altitude. This altitude is already high enough for altitude sickness to incur. Acclimatization at the proper time is a must. Leaving the Lukla village, the trek climbs up steadily up to the base camp. You can’t rush while trekking at higher altitudes.
For a normal person, two acclimatization days should be included in the itinerary. But the acclimatization places if chosen wisely can be worth as the trek offers a lot of mesmerizing places throughout. It is obvious that the upward journey takes more time than descending and as descending does not need acclimatization either, it shall take no more than 3-4 days to return to Lukla starting from Everest Base Camp.
As altitude sickness can ruin the beautiful trek, it better to seek medical advice before commencing the journey. Taking medications and knowing the symptoms can surely help, big time. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is no proven relation between altitude sickness and physique, everyone is potentially at risk.
Starting from Lukla, the Everest Base Camp is a 65km trek. One must know if the 130km journey is achievable or not as per their caliber. For an experienced trekker, walking 65 km should not be a big deal knowing that the average human walking speed is 5km/hr. If you are with your guide and potters, carrying travel gears should not be a problem.
Even when you are trekking without the support, the gears would slow your pace a bit only. The support shall increase the expense, but it would be a bonus if you are equipped with heavy gear.
As per the standard itinerary, the journey is 14 days long and among which you’ll be walking for 12 days only. Doing the math, you will have to walk almost 12-15 km each day which does not seem much.
Even though 15km does not look much for a day to conquer, the trails are not on fleek but are rocky and steep along the moraines instead and sometimes even covered with snow depending upon the time of travel. The route does not have paved trails everywhere and takes us into the wilderness where the boulders shall test your fortitudes at times. The path sees undulations and might need greater exertion. It is better to rest than to rush to prevent lethargy.
The requirement of super level fitness for the trek is a hoax. You will see a lot of people from old to young and overweight to underweight complete the trek on the way. A good level of fitness certainly helps but it’s not that others can not complete the journey. As the trails are hilly, the trek to Base Camp shall not exhaust to a much higher level.
However, basic training should certainly help any novice-trekker to complete the journey. While walking, the walking could be easier one day and the opposite the next day. One must be prepared for the tough days rather than the easy ones. For someone with minimal fitness, walking 6 hours a day should be apt to tackle the trek although it might increase the trekking days to some extent.
A proper plan a month before the trek is suggested for building your strength. Stamina should determine the duration of the trek as well so anything that exponentially drains your stamina is not suggested for a month before the trek.
The training plan might include the following:
- Long hikes/ walks every two times a week for at least 5 hours. This shall build up your speed and will certainly help you cover more distance in the trek.
- Training at the gym. Strength training in the gym should heavily be focused on your legs. If you don’t skip leg days in the gym, there shall be no problem but if you do, you should focus on increasing the strength of the legs for these four weeks. Squats can be done at home which is a great option if you don’t go to the gym.
- Swimming, jogging, rowing, and other aerobic exercises should help you with the stamina.
i) Network and Charging
If you are commencing the journey thinking there will be all the facilities en route, we suggest you not to stand on that opinion. The lush mountains will surely entice you but the facilities will disappoint you if you are walking with higher expectations. These two weeks, you will be mostly without the wifi and charging.
Two weeks without social media is dipping totally into the wilderness for today’s world. So if you have important mails coming within these two weeks, you have trekked yourself in some trouble. You’ll have little knowledge of what is happening outside of the place you are staying. There are places where you might get the wifi service.
Namche has well-facilitated hotels and there you can relish the social media. Not only the wifi but the mobile signals don’t work either in most of the places. You’ll find a glimmer of the signal at Gorak Shep. So communication is a major deal these two weeks. And with the Wi-Fi, they are not included in the lodging rent but have to pay separately.
And even so, the quality is very poor that you can hardly back up photos. Another major issue is charging. Most of the villages are powered by solar and solar are not quite as effective. So it is hard to charge mobile phones as it takes too much time.
One suggestion is to leave the phones charging while going to bed. The charge drains quickly due to the cold weather. So a power bank with good battery capacity is recommended. The hotels might charge you money even for charging your phones.
ii) Food and sanitation
It is cold in there and water is freezing at ambient temperature. At this extremity, one can hardly think of taking a bath with cold water. If there is the hot water facility in the hotel you’re staying, that would be a boon. It’s not a better idea to pack your luggage with a lot of clothes because you hardly change them. But should always carry an extra pair of socks.
If you are not accustomed to the food in the mountain region, this might be a problem as well. Most of the trekkers find the food tasty but they differ to the ones we normally eat at our home. Most of the dishes are made of potato in the mountain region.
Even when freshening up in the morning, the water is too cold so all you can think of is how fast you can wash your face and brush your teeth.
Despite some difficulties, the trek shall be the best you had in your life. And with the lust mountains surrounding you 360 degrees, Everest Base Camp shall be the best journey you will ever commence.