The glossy pages of adventure magazines display picture after picture of it. Each year it is in the news, reporting the trials and triumphs of the brave, the determined, and maybe the unlucky. “It” is the fabled Everest Base Camp Trek, and every year hundreds flock to its base camp to try their hand at submitting the mighty Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Still more every year, enjoy the challenge and wonders that accompany trekking to Everest Base Camp. The classic and iconic trek reveals incredible natural splendour and beautiful cultural treasures and holds surprises around every corner.
If this is the year you have decided it is time to walk in the footsteps of legends, then this Guide to Everest Base Camp will help you go a long way in planning your trek of a lifetime. In this guide, we will cover some fundamentals that will assist the ardent adventurer with understanding all the basics about trekking to this prominent place in the world. We will look at the following information:
Information About Trek
Health and Safety
Best Season for Everest Base Camp Trek
Information about the Everest base camp trek
Do I need a guide for Everest Base Camp Trek? The short answer is yes; you need a guide. However, many find themselves unprepared for the challenges of hiking up to 5/6 hours a day at elevations well over 4,000 meters (FYI, there are 3.3 ft. per meter). To have a knowledgeable local guide who can help navigate the trail and understand the rigours of trekking and the safety aspects of proper acclimatization is undeniable. Not to mention being able to communicate effectively with locals. An appropriate itinerary is essential for managing the gain in elevation and being in the company of a person who is medically trained to know when primary symptoms of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) become more life-threatening. The health and safety section will discuss this issue in more detail. Here are a few regulations for the Sagarmatha National Park, where Mt. Everest and most of the trek lie.
- An entry fee of NRs.3000 (USD 30) per person per entry (foreigners) and NRs. 1500 (USD 15) per person per entry (SAARC national) must be paid at the designated ticket counter.
- Valid entry permits are available from the National Parks ticket counter at the Nepal Tourism Board, Bhrikuti Mandap Kathmandu, or the Park entrance gate at Monjo.
- The entry permit is non-refundable, non-transferable, and only for a single entry.
- Entering the Park without a permit is illegal. Park personnel may ask for the license, so visitors are requested to keep the permit.
There are several other regulations, so check the website for the latest updates about entering the park.
Health and Safety
The first thing when considering trekking to Everest Base Camp is if you are healthy enough. Consulting with your doctor is the first recommendation, and make sure you’re cleared for such activity. Things to take into consideration during this trek are:
- The trek begins at Lukla (9,320 ft.) and continues daily to 18,510 ft. around the EBC area.
- Usually, you will be hiking for around 7 hours daily, give or take a few hours.
- The trek is roughly 15 days; some itineraries are shorter, some longer, depending on the itinerary.
- You will be staying in tea houses (guesthouses) along the way. Still, during the day, you may be exposed to a wide range of weather, including but not limited to the hot sun (remember, UV exposure is more significant at high altitudes), cold rain, high winds, and possibly light snow.
The next consideration concerns AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness). This affects everyone (except those lucky few, like the Sherpa people) in different ways and at different altitudes. You cannot train your way out of experiencing symptoms. A slow progression to higher elevations is the best preventative, and if the symptoms become life-threatening, rapid descent is the first line of treatment. Again, this is a topic that is beyond the scope of this article to go into full detail, but the basics are as follows:
- AMS is the adverse effects of exposure to a lower amount of oxygen in the body due to rapid progress in elevation, precisely above 8,000 ft. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, headache, vomiting, tiredness, sleeplessness, and dizziness.
- AMS can progress to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or High Altitude Cerebral Edema, both of which can be fatal
As we mentioned, the weather, altitude, how long the trek is, and how many hours per day you will be trekking. So let’s look at clothing and gear. Your company will also provide a checklist, but here are the basics.
- Base Layer Tops and Bottoms (synthetic or wool)
- Day Pack (21L-35L)
- Day Pack Rain Cover
- Duffel Bag (No Wheels or Rigid Frames)
- Fleece Pants
- Fleece/Wool Gloves
- Fleece/Wool Hat
- Jacket or Sweater (non-cotton)
- Headlamp with Fresh Batteries
- Hiking Boots
- Hiking Pants (Convertible, Quick-Dry, Lightweight)
- Hiking Socks (Synthetic or Wool)
- Insulated Jacket
- Rain Jacket (Hooded, Lightweight, Waterproof, Breathable)
- Rain Pants (Lightweight, Waterproof, Breathable)
- Sleeping Bag (1°-14°, Lightweight, Compressible) Sunglasses (appropriate for high UV exposure)
- Sun Block and Lip Balm
- Sun Hat
- Water Bottles (Two 1-Quart) or Hydration System Plus
- Camp Towel
- Gaiters (Tall)
- Liner Socks (Synthetic)
- Personal Bathroom Kit: Toilet Paper, Ziploc Bags, Personal Wipes, Hand Cleaner
- Personal First Aid Kit/Medications (Lightweight)
- Stuff Sacks
- Tee Shirts (Synthetic)
- Trekking Poles
- Down Booties (Colder Weather Travel Periods)
- Ear Plugs
- Electrical Adapter Plug and Converter
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- Solar Charger
- Water Purification Drops/Tablets
Not all of these items are necessary but have been compiled by those who have had experience and are also helpful and you would probably be remiss if you didn’t have them. Other of these items are required.
Best season for an Everest base camp trek
The best months for trekking to Everest Base Camp are before the monsoon (March-May) and post-monsoon (September-November). December and February have almost prohibitively cold nights and some days, and summer is rain, mud, obscured views, and a higher-than-average possibility of flight cancellations.
There are many more factors to consider with this genuinely incredible trek, but these are all good beginnings to help you decide if you are ready for all the splendour, challenges, and delights of this classic trek!