Nepal is the ideal place to immerse oneself into iconic trekking routes and magical sceneries. Of all the treks out there, Everest Base Camp trek, an elite trek to the base camp of the highest peak of the world, has got to be the most renowned one. It is not feasible for everyone to attempt to climb the Everest (8848m), however, the trek to Everest Base Camp can take you closer to the summit, making you feel somewhat similar to how one feels after reaching the peak.
The trip will impart new vigor to the minds of the trekkers. You are bound to make loads of memories when you finally reach the crest of the giant. Lying at an altitude of 5364 meters, the trek to Everest Base Camp requires high level of fitness, as it involves plenty of risks. If you are looking to climb the mammoth, this is the place where you camp. The base camp also serves as a rest point to help climbers deal with acclimatization. Acclimatizing is crucial as it reduces the risks of severity of altitude sickness.
Difficulties you will find when conquering the Everest:
1. Altitude and Elevation
3. Time/ Weather
4. Trekking Gears
1. Altitude and Elevation
Located in the northern terrains, Everest Base Camp is situated at an altitude of 5354 meters (17598 feet) above sea level. Most of the landscape comprises of high altitude hills and mountains. The ascent to the summit begins from the Everest Base Camp at an astonishing 5,364 meters. The Everest Base trek covers few of the highest altitude places in the world. Spending time at such an elevation brings about chances of altitude sickness.
The entire Everest base camp trek spans between two places, Lukla Airport (2,600 m) and Kala Patthar (5,500 m). Both of these places are located at quite a high elevation. The change in altitude during the trek might affect the health conditions of the travelers.
The amount of oxygen keeps on decreasing with the ascent into the Himalayas. Many first-time trekkers to EBC may not have experienced such extreme elevation in their life. Therefore, they are advised to go slow during the treks so that the body gets good acclimatization.
Altitude sickness is caused due to the lack of oxygen. In high altitude regions, the air molecules are less compared to a lower elevation, due to atmospheric pressure. Your body will experience many challenges including rapid and deep breathing. The symptoms can be cured by allowing your body to acclimate for 1-2 days after your arrival in the region. Oximeters can be helpful to detect the effects of altitude sickness.
Enough time should be spent by the body to cope with the diminishing oxygen levels. All you need to do is take your time. Breathe-ease and continue on your trail nice and easy. Create a slow pace with proper rests and breathe normally.
There is nothing you can’t take care of with some healthy preparation. The same is true for trekking in Everest. If you have never hiked before, and are planning for EBC trek, then give your plans a little rest for a while. Trek to EBC is as easy as a normal trek if your body is physically trained and mentally strong.
You don’t need to be a super athlete to complete the Everest Base Camp trek. But you need to take a common-sense approach to your training for Everest base camp hike and give your body adequate time to prepare for what is ahead. Here are some of the basic training approaches you can apply to yourself before trek:
a) Cardiovascular Training
Cardiovascular fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to working muscles during sustained physical activity. So you need to be sure that your cardiovascular fitness is at the best. This will also ensure that you can trek for long periods each day. Cycling, jogging and swimming practices stimulate the heart rate and keep it constant for a longer period of time.
b) Strength Endurance
It is very important that you are physically strong during this long period trek. You are bound to walk 6-7 hours a day with a backpack on your back in the extreme snowy environment with not enough oxygen. Therefore, you need to focus on building strength in your legs, upper body, and lower body. To strengthen your lower body you can try some lunges, squats, and step aerobics. To strengthen your core muscles like stomach, you can do sit-ups, shoulder press, back and shoulder flies, and so on.
c) Altitude Training
Altitude sickness is not a disease to feel shame about; it can happen to anyone. If you feel unwell during the trek, notify your guides and monitor your symptoms carefully. Acute mountain sickness can progress to pulmonary edema (fluid in your lungs) or cerebral edema (swelling of your brain). If it is not treated on time, the consequences can be fatal. So, it is highly recommended that you should spend 1-2 days in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche. On the acclimatization day, you should go for light hiking. This will accelerate the acclimatizing process. Train tough but trek at a slow pace.
If you’ve never hiked before and want to go to Everest Base Camp, you need to practice hiking. Hiking experience will come in handy. You can try walking/ jogging long distances. A jog for about an hour or two or hiking/ walking in inclined places can be good preparation too. Anything you do, the important thing is that you should be constantly strengthening your leg muscles so that they’ll be able to endure long-distance walking.
e) Mental Training
There will be times during the trek where you might want to give up. After all, walking for 5-6 hours a day takes a lot of strength and courage. So, be mentally prepared and make sure that you must come with a good attitude for EBC before the trip, and maintain it during the trip.
3. Time and Weather
When planning a trek to Everest Base Camp, the most important thing to decide is the best time for the trek. The peak season for Everest Base Camp trek is between September and November. This is largely because of the weather and the availability of other routes in the region. The days are clearer and the views are so stunning and beautiful that you’d have to rely on pure luck to enjoy during other months.
Some people love to venture off the beaten tracks and follow their adventurous soul, even when trekking on a certain route doesn’t seem possible. If you are one of those, you could trek to the Base Camp during the off-peak seasons.
From November to January, the days are considerably shorter, and so it will end up taking you longer to trek to the dizzy heights of 5,300 meters. It’ll be severely cold, particularly at night but if you have the capacity for it, you should be fine.
Many other popular routes are closed during that time of the year, which makes November to January a less crowded time to go for the Everest Base Camp trek.
June through August, however, is also another off-peak season for trekking in Nepal. The warm summer air, heavy rainfall, mud and leeches make the trek lousier and less appealing.
4. Trekking Gears!
It is a little overwhelming to know that we have to trek over suspension bridges, climbing along high ridges and spending several days at 5000 meters.
But the toughest task that lays ahead is putting together the packing list for the Trek.
Some of the gears that we should not forget are listed below:
• Hiking Boots
• Down Jackets
• Camp Shoes
• Thermal Wear
• Sleeping Bag
• Water Bottle and Purifier
• Trekking Pole
• Sanitizing Materials
• Torch Lights
• Medical Kit
• Milk Bars, Chocolates
• Your Passports, Tickets/ passes and most importantly, plenty of money!
Everest Base Camp Trek is the experience of a lifetime. Therefore, it is very important for you to be healthy throughout the journey. In any trek, food plays a vital role, as it helps you learn the culture of the region, as well as nourish you during the journey. EBC trekkers are lucky as they get to experience a variety of food.
There are many teahouses on the way run by the local people, and dining there becomes an amazing way to get the insights of local culture. Meals are usually served three times a day in these teahouses. On the trail, most of the tea houses offer a hot breakfast usually consisting of French toast, eggs, potatoes, and tea or coffee.
The lunch consists of carbohydrate-rich food and whole grains. During the trek, the lunch is served in the afternoon, between 12 noon to 1:00 pm. It consists of traditional Nepali food – Dal (lentil soup), Bhat (boiled rice), Tarkari (vegetables) and Aachar (pickle). Meat is also an option but it is best to not consume it during the trek, as it is heavy for the body to digest, at such an altitude.
Most of the trekkers aren’t able to complete the trek due to indigestion and Altitude Sickness. Eating healthy, hot and fresh food keeps you acclimatized. Also, you should never get dehydrated. Keeping yourself hydrated with warm water can be considered a key for the successful trek.
Coming to the end, despite all the difficulties that you would face during the trek, the journey will turn out to be an extravagant adventure. The view of the mountains would make you forget all the efforts that you’ve put into the trek and all the pain you’ve felt during the trip. In the end, when you’re at the Everest Base Camp, gazing at this great white giant known as Everest, you’ll be at a state of eternal bliss.
If you are willing to explore the landscapes, the routes, the people, and all the other factors of this trek, all you need to do is grab your stuffs, throw off your bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, and come join the trail, where you will discover the beauty of Everest. As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”