Everest Base Camp Trek – Facing The Challenge and Being on Top of The World

The 6am wake-up call marked the start of our eighth day of trekking, where the swift knock on the door and resounding tones of “mooooorning” signalled the start of another long and arduous day. By this point each day began to feel like a relentless and monotonous struggle. Except this was the day where, despite extreme exhaustion, weakness from loss of appetite and braving bitterly cold conditions, we all hoped to find enough energy to pull ourselves through the last leg of our ascent to get to Everest Base Camp.

I didn’t feel giddy with excitement that morning. Instead, swathed in five layers of clothing and still suffering from a severe cough and altitude headaches, I felt relieved that what I had set out to achieve was just a few hours away. I just wanted the pain to go away. Even the strongest of people were flagging. Over the course of six hours, broken up half way by a short break at our accommodation tea house, we pulled ourselves slowly and sluggishly through the thin and icy air. I remember one of the Sherpas (porters) grabbing my arm to hold me up, pulling me over rocks as my legs were about to give way and pushing me to the end because I refused to be defeated. Not now I had got this far. When we reached the top of the final climb, stumbling over loose rocks and onto a canvas of white, all I could do was sit and cry at what had become one of my greatest achievements – the top of the world was standing right before me.

Just because you are not stepping foot on Mount Everest, do not think that the trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) is an easy undertaking. It’s so tough that at times you question your sanity and why you ever decided to do it. At other times you look at the scenery that’s so breathtakingly stunning and unlike any mountainous terrain that you have ever seen before – changing from lush green farmland, dense forest and glistening blue fast flowing rivers to barren land and glacial pools the higher you climb – that you realise it was a good decision. It’s one of the hardest physical and mental challenges I have ever faced in my life but one that, upon reaching Base Camp, became one of my proudest moments.

Facing My Demons

 

I remember seeing the Everest Base Camp trek a few years ago – a random find that immediately made it on my travel ‘to do’ list. Not only was Nepal high on my list of places to visit but completing this would be a pretty fantastic achievement. I’d been that typical asthma kid at school – that one who was told I didn’t have to partake in the really difficult athletic endeavours because it was obvious I was never going to make it and any attempt would just result in some hideous outcome or extreme embarrassment. So I went through life not taking much interest in sport, or thinking I couldn’t do much in the way of extreme physical exertion. It’s taken many years to realise that this is not the case, and Everest Base Camp was one of those things I had to do to prove that to myself.

Group Or Solo?

 

In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect from this epic trek. I knew it was going to be hard, but I never realised how hard. The most I had managed before this was a three day jungle hike in Northern Thailand which now feels like a walk in the park in comparison. In fact previous daydreams about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro are currently on the backburner until I fully recover.

I booked the 12 day trek with g Adventures over six months before I was due to start it, ensuring that I would be with a group. I toyed with the idea of hiring a guide when I was there but figured being on my own might be lonely when you need the camaraderie of others to spur you on. I also was close to using websites such as Trek Booking to meet others to form a group and hire guides and porters but worried that I would be thrown into the midst of diehard trekkers, where I would be a burden or unable to keep up.

And so I began my trek with a group of 14 people, alongside two guides and four porters. Looking back, I needed a lot of those people. I relied on them when times got tough, because this isn’t just a test of physical strength but one that pushes you to the limit mentally too. And so a simple hug made everything better, when you cried they understood and the laugher and nights in huddled round the fire gossiping overshadowed any negative thoughts that were always lurking. I doubt I would have completed it without the collective morale that existed between us.

The Trek

 

Typically, most treks to Everest Base Camp will take around 12 days to complete – eight days to get to Base Camp and four days to get back down, tough in parts, especially on the knees! Leaving from Kathmandu, you’ll brave an early morning flight to Lukla – a small aircraft where the engine roars for the full 40 minutes (muffled in vain by the complimentary cotton wool from the flight attendant that you’re urged to stuff into your ears) while the wind lightly wobbles you in the air, until you touch down on the famous short, steep and precarious mountain-side runway.

Cheering at the successful landing and that we were still alive after this nail-biting experience we went to breakfast full of excitement about the trek ahead –  a three hour, mainly uphill climb which wasn’t too taxing. Little did we know how much harder it would be and how much colder it would get.

Savour that first night. It’s one of the most comfortable.

On day two, we made our way to the well-known Namche Bazaar - one of the biggest rest areas and full of markets, restaurants and Wi-Fi cafes – but reaching this haven at 3,440 metres requires extreme effort. I found this day one of the hardest, alongside the day of getting to Everest Base Camp itself. It involved six hours of high climbing and steep steps through stunning forest, crossing rivers via vertiginous, swaying suspension bridges and relentless physical exertion in dusty, dry heat which sent my adrenalin levels pumping so high that all I could do when I reached the lodge was sit and cry.

You might feel the need to cry. More than once.

‘Rest’ Days Are Not Rest Days

 

What follows is five more trek days, two of which are ‘rest days’ – the second day in Namche Bazaar and day six in Dingboche at 4,260 metres. Yet, this is not an opportunity for a lie-in or to put your feet up and rest since a ‘rest day’ is just a term for an acclimatisation day but rolled in trekking terminology glitter.

Acclimatisation means climbing. Steep climbing.

It’s around days four and five that you start to feel the changes in the air. Just when you thought you had got your breath back you are off again to reach a higher altitude, a dry-run, ready to make the ascent properly the next day. You climb high and sleep lower, so while you are not trekking for three to six hours, you will spend approximately two hours hauling yourself up a steep hill in order for your body to get used to the next stage of high altitude – a painful but necessary evil which makes the proceeding trekking days a little easier.

Reaching Everest Base Camp & The Lukla Party

 

Reaching Base Camp and standing at an altitude of 5,364 meters is euphoric, even with depleted energy levels. It’s like standing in a snow globe, where the magnificent snow-peaked mountains, the Khumbu icefall and the imposing presence of Everest loom before you. It’s something I will never forget, from the first glimpse of the magnificent view to the congratulatory atmosphere all around me.

Since we were outside of the April/May climbing season we didn’t encounter a ‘camp’. It’s not a land filled with people ready to go further, or where a huge sign signals your end goal. Instead you are greeted by a huge rock covered in prayer flags to pose with. Just look up, because that’s the most special thing.

The thought of four days trekking back down is not the greatest, but remember one thing: a party awaits you in Lukla – a land full of happy people, happy hour, decent food, strong cocktails and a rave with your new-found friends.

The Everest Base Camp trek is like rehab – no sex, alcohol or meat allowed for 12 days. Lukla is the release and you deserve it.

Top Five Tips

 

1. Stay Positive

Despite feeling exhausted most of the time, look around you. Trekking with the magnificent High Himalaya around you including Ama Dablam, Mount Pumori, Lhotse and Nuptse and the snow-capped misty peak of Mount Everest, you will feel as though you have been thrown into the most beautiful mountainous valley, with a 360 view of the best scenery on the planet.

Approach each climb knowing that there’s a viewpoint so spectacular at the end that every excruciating last step is worth it. It really is.

Try and accept the uncomfortable nights in the tea houses, where your room will be a made from walls of ply wood, and the water will be ice-cold. It’s hard and there isn’t one night where it feels like luxury. I hired a -20 sleeping bag from Kathmandu, used a silk sleeping liner and wore as many layers as necessary, and when I came across the opportunity for a hot shower, I took it, despite the cost of £2-£5. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better and try not to project too much negativity as this can also be detrimental to the moral of the group. I found it easier to walk away from people who felt a constant need to moan. Your own mental stability is an extremely important factor in getting you to the end goal!

2. Avoid Altitude Sickness

Altitude kills, but in the majority of cases it just makes you feel extremely shitty. I chose not to take Diamox tablets as I am a migraine sufferer and I wanted to know if my body was on shut down during the trek. I listened to all the advice our guide gave each day regarding how much water to drink – and I drank more to ensure I stayed on top of the altitude symptoms. But just two days before reaching base camp I succumbed to altitude sickness. I woke up in the morning with throbbing headaches, which I carried with me while trekking. I felt nauseous and weak, and mentally I struggled and so took the tablets for a couple of days.

3. Go Slow

Taking slow, measured steps is as important as staying hydrated to prevent altitude sickness. This is not a race or an opportunity to show off your sporting prowess – even the most athletic can be beaten by altitude. Go at your own pace and don’t be intimidated by the strength of others or feel the need to ‘keep up’. It’s better to be an hour behind and reach your goal than falter at your own ruthless determination.

4. Take Plenty of Snacks and Money

In short, the food is pretty dire, especially the higher you climb. You tire of the same foods and the bland tastes and your loss of appetite only aids the pain. Take plenty of snacks with you such as protein bars and chocolate – a little bit of sugar helps pull you through, as does your favourite comfort foods.

In all I took 35,000 rupees (approx. £275) with me for the entire trek and spent it all. Showers, Wi-Fi and battery recharging will set you back anywhere between 350-500 rupees. Food and drink becomes more expensive the higher you go (due to the effort require to transport it up there) with bottled water in particular gaining a hefty price tag. Consider using the water purification tablets or a water purification filter bottle to save money.

5. Pack Well

Braving minus temperatures can be gruelling, especially at night. You can hire a four seasons sleeping bag (or simply ask for a -20) and a down jacket from a whole host of trekking shops in Kathmandu – these two items were my lifeline to a good night’s sleep. The rest is down to the art of layering – thermal longs and a top, comfortable trekking trousers, t-shirts, fleece, Gore-Tex jacket and/or windproof jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves. Really good gloves. Remember it’s better to be too warm than suffer the cold through lack of proper clothing. I bought my trekking shoes at home in order to wear them in before the adventure started and purchased walking poles in Kathmandu, which came in extra handy on the steeper parts of the climb.

Reaching Everest Base Camp isn’t just a light-hearted trek. It’s a mini expedition that will test you in more ways than one. But for the short time you are there all the pain completely disappears, leaving you to revel in what will become one of the greatest achievements of your life. Between the pats on the back, the hugs and the handshakes of congratulations, you’ll lose yourself in complete silence as you marvel at the spectre before you – the top of the world. Not many people can say they stood over half way towards that. And if you don’t make it that far, you will still have traversed one of the most beautiful trekking routes on the planet.

Things To Note:

  • I booked on the 15 day g Adventures Everest Adventure trip – a 15 day, small group tour, which includes the 12 day trek and time to explore Kathmandu either side. This cost includes the flight to Lukla, all accommodations and sherpas. Travel to and from Kathmandu at the start and end of the trip, and all food and drink costs during, are not included.
  • Trekking route: Way up: Kathmandu – Lukla – Phakding – Namche Bazaar – Tengboche – Dingboche – Lobuche – Gorak Shep. Way down: Pheriche – Kengjuma – Monjo – Lukla – Kathmandu

  

Comments

  1. Steve Biggs says

    Of course meeting “slightly smug” me on the way down from Namche Bazaar on day two must have been a highlight for you too! ;) Our group all made it to Base Camp & I second all your advice! Hire a -20 sleeping bag for sure! Stock up on Snickers/Mars bars on the way up for a sugar boost/motivation, and happily use water purification tablets as you need to stay well hydrated and not be tempted to drink less simply to save money (I carried 2 x 750ml bottles every day and the water tasted fine). The food is certainly bland and the nights very cold (only the communal room is heated) but neither of these two things are ever mentioned in the brochures! lol The pace was also very slow with multiple stops so people shouldn’t worry that it’s going to be some sort of SAS style assault to the top – far from it! :)

  2. says

    Congratulations Becki! Way to overcome being the asthma kid and I feel truly inspired by you to get back into shape and put this on our bucket list. I already know it’s on hubby’s. He’d be blown over if I did it with him.

  3. says

    Well done. I am currently training for EVB next year (I am the world’s most unfittest person), but I am glad I read your tips about snacks and altitude sickness. I also suffer from migranes, so think I might take Diamox with me too. Can’t wait!

    • says

      You don’t have to really ‘train’ just be generally fit. Its more the altitude that gets you! Take Diamox just as a back up, try not to take it if you dont have to. Good luck and have fun!!!

    • says

      You don’t have to undertake full-on training, just have a good general fitness level. I was semi-fit before leaving for travelling and did a few mini hikes in China. The one thing that affects people is altitude… you never know what that’s going to do to you. Take Diamox as a back-up for sure. Good luck and have fun! You will never forget it!

  4. says

    Awesome story and equally good advice. I’m thinking of doing this in the next couple years, so it’s good to read someone’s detailed experience with it;. It seems like an amazing experience!

  5. says

    Congrats on making it up the the base camp — this is also on our traveling bucket list (hopefully set for next fall). We already experienced some of the difficulty hiking at high altitudes in China and it really is crazy how quickly you get out of breathe and how tried climbing is at higher altitudes. Each time we high now it just further reminds us how insanely difficult the EBC trek must be!

  6. says

    Wow that is such an achievement! I also love trekking but I don’t know if I could ever have that courage to climb the highest peak of the world, hopefully someday. The highest mountain I’ve reached is Mount Elbert in Colorado, that I’m so proud of, but Everest as you said is a very serious matter. Hopefully someday though. Happy holiday! :)

  7. says

    Mount Everest base camp trek is a lifetime achievement in the human life as there are only few percentages may able to visit there and see the top of World. The great God gifted place in Himalayas!

  8. trudi says

    Thank you so much for info re: EBC – i go in April and actually you have put my mind at rest, i know it is going to be hard and gruelling but your feedback to people has been really useful so thanks for that. What did you do training wise before?
    Thanks, Trudi

  9. Byron says

    Congratulations, Becki. You did have an experience of a lifetime. After reading Krakauer’s book, Up In the Air, I could never ever imagine myself undergoing such an expedition, even if it was just to hike it up to base camp. To endure such pain all for the sake of hiking somehow doesn’t inspire me to want to do it. I hiked the Inca trail and was very proud of accomplishing that feat. Descending down the many steps was extremely painful on the knees but I did it. And overall, I did enjoy the hike and didn’t suffer much. In other words, the hike itself was enjoyable without too much suffering or pain. Somehow, based on your descriptions, I actually have the reverse reaction and don’t feel inspired to want to hike to Base camp. But I’m glad you accomplished it and I enjoyed reading about your experience. If you never read Up In the Air, I’m sure you’d find it an entertaining read, especially since you hiked to base camp and got a real good taste for what climbing Everest is like.

  10. says

    We haven’t made this trek yet but are looking forward to doing it in the next couple of years. This post is very informative and helpful. The pics really enhance it too! :) Thanks.

  11. says

    Wow Becki congratulations on this massive achievement! I am looking to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next year but am a little worried about the altitude; this article definitely inspired me to want to do it even more!

  12. Jayne says

    Well done for doing the trek :-) I’m planning it for November, I was wondering what time of year you went and what trekking company you used?

  13. KT says

    This sounds incredible, I’m still in two minds of whether my knees will cope but guess that plenty of ibuprofen and tape should do the trick. I thought the London Marathon this year would be my proudest achievement – looks like I’ve got another one to aim for now!

    • says

      Not great for the knees on the way down, but ibuprofen, walking sticks and taking it SLOW will help. If you can run the London Marathon you can do this!!! Go, go, go!!

  14. nastassia says

    Hi there,
    Just have a question. If you are doing all this backpacking and this hike. where did you keep all your things while you were travelling to other places? I am backpacking India and Nepal and just dont want to fill my backpack with trekking stuff.. any hints or tips?
    thanks!

    • says

      I’ve always carried my hiking stuff with me…most of it in a compression sack. I’ve, annoyingly, had to pack and travel with clothes for two seasons. When it comes to the trek, you only take what you need and leave your big bag behind to pick up later.

  15. Jazmin says

    Hi Becki!!!! Great trip!!
    Im going there at the end of july, but im not sure about dates…. i have my return ticket from Delhi to Dublin on August 4 at 9:30 pm. How many days do i have to calculatte for the trekking? you said 8 for going up and 4 for going down, but is that always like that? And in the 8 days you also count the day you fly from Kathmandu to Luckla? and in the fourth day you are coming down, you are counting the flight from Luckla to Kathmandu??

    • says

      In the eight days up, day one includes the flight to Lukla as you also start trekking that morning following the flight. It’s four days down and we flew back in the morning of what became the 5th day. Give yourself 14 days to include a day either side in Kathmandu. If not arranging a trek prior to arrival, you may want to give yourself an extra day or two in Kathmandu to organise the trek / research / price check / look around / book. Hope that helps!

  16. Tim Nicholson says

    My friend planned everything. We did not use a guide or porter. I felt a little guilty b/c it does help the local economy. There was times I thought I would starve trying to eat the bland food, but I am glad I went and experienced the culture and beautiful scenery. Be sure and take a lot of snacks… I found myself buying pringles a lot in villages.

    • says

      It’s not wise to go alone without a guide (porters are a different decision). However, it depends on how much of an experienced trekker you are, but personally, I would never advise it, what with the amount of people going missing or getting ill. But good for you on completing the challenge that way! There will always be other times trekking in Nepal when you can contribute :) And agree with the snacks – take PLENTY!

  17. says

    Congratulation! Becky. You have made it base camp of Mount Everest but even didn’t have chance to meet you here in Kathmandu. If you come to Next time don’t forget to meet us as we are keen to meet you and want to share your experience here in Himalayas. :)

  18. Mike says

    Hi Becki, congratulations on completing it. I am booked on the trip with G Adventures for this November and can’t wait to get started after reading your story. On the joining instructions it says that Sherpas can carry upto 10kg of your kit, is this the case or do people carry the majority of there own kit??? Also you said you spent all of the 35,000 rupees you took with you, would you advise taking more or was that about the right amount? Any further advice would be greatly received.
    Cheers Mike

    • says

      Thank you and how exciting for you that you have it all booked!? At the welcome meeting, g will give you a bag which will be the one the sherpas will carry. They will advise who to bring and leave behind – your big bag gets left at the hotel. You just carry your day bag, walking sticks etc. I would take more than 35,000 rupees just in case considering we are all different in what we consume, and the things we buy to ship home! Plus you have a day either side in Kathmandu too. Plenty of cash machines there though.

  19. Cherilea Lomas says

    Hi

    This was such an interesting read. I did KIlimanjaro a few years back and am looking to do everest base camp next year and youre advice was so good thank you.

    From another one of those asthma kids :)

      • Cherilea Lomas says

        I found it the greatest achievement of my life to date. I did it a slightly different way as i did it with a bunch of people for charity so we did the marangu route which i believe is the busiest and most touristy route.
        The landscape changed everyday and its really not too bad until base camp and then its really cold and you are so tired. You attempt summit once only and set of around midnight with headtorches and all shuffling together we call it the “kili shuffle” and you have saved the last bit of battery in youre ipod because there is no talking or exerting energy cos you need it all. !
        Last bit is a bit of a scramble and i was dragging my boots up there but when you get to the top and you are at the roof of Africa its overwhelming and its a scene i will never forget and was a great opportunity to say to all those who didnt think i would make it “look i did it”
        As for the Asthma i have heard you can actually handle it better because youre lungs are used to struggling for air. I never had a problem i was so lucky. There really isnt any air at summit and beyond but you just learn to manage it
        I would highly recommend it

  20. Mario says

    Hi Becki,
    What a great achievement !! I’m actually going in less than two months to Nepal with some friends, but I am in a dilemma if we should attempt to do it. I wanted to ask you: You mentioned that a general fitness level should be enough to complete the hike (ignoring the fact of the altitude sickness), but what do you mean by this? Would it be possible if you tell me what kind of trainings you did before going to EBC, just to have an idea of the “general fitness? For example: if you ran… how many km/mi and how many times per week; or you said you did some hikes in China … how many, how steep or how many hours hiking, etc.”
    Thanks a lot!

    • says

      Hi Mario! Firstly – great choice on heading to Nepal because it’s incredible and I guarantee you will love it! Now to EBC… By general fitness levels I mean in respect to regularly keeping in shape – whether you do the odd jog, walk, run, or go to the gym a couple of times a week. Before I left for long term travels (roughly four months before EBC hike) I used to do short 20 minute runs 2-3 a week. I used to also go to Zumba one or twice a week, so whilst I was not a hardcore gym bunny, I did something regularly. In China, I had the opportunity to do short hikes for 2-3 hours, some were strenuous with hundreds of stairs, and others were more leisurely.

      At EBC there was a girl in my group who went through altitude training before hand and was VERY fit, but even she faltered at times because she pushed herself too hard and went to fast. I also have friends who failed to complete it, even though they trained at the gym for a few months beforehand. So you never really know. The key really is to take it slow, pace yourself and if you feel ill in anyway, highlight the issue to your guide and get down if you need. It’s an amazing experience and if you are in anyway tempted, then seriously look into it!

  21. says

    Hi Becki,

    Congratulations on your great achievement. I myself am preparing for a base camp trek and I have to say, this experience of yours is definitely a worth reading and will help me a lot. I appreciate the time you took to write this to let everyone know about your experience, and I cannot imagine the experience your are having, enjoying freedom and being a citizen of the world. I so envy you :)

    Keep it up, and hope our path crosses someday :)

    Manzur

  22. Jonnie5 says

    Well done to you, I’m very jealous
    I’m from Manchester so should be used to the cold, lol
    I’m going 8th Nov on an 18 day trek to Everest base camp, we have a few more rest days
    Can I ask about boots
    Did you just take the 1 pair and what would you recommend,
    I’m a bit go a northface fan and have severals pairs for all conditions, but I not sure if I should go for a light weight pair or heavier which will provide more heat
    Also did anyone in your team suffer from swollen feet, I been told my feet may swell by a half size ?

    Thanks fir your advise
    Jonnie5

    • says

      I only took one pair. I have Northface Hedgehogs but many had hiking boots with ankle support. I don’t suffer from ankle problems so my hedgehogs were fine and I wore up to three pairs of socks as it got colder. I didn’t hear of anyone who suffered with swollen feet.

  23. Agatha says

    Hi Becki,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey.
    I am Agatha. I am disabled (left leg amputated above knee). I will begin my expedition to hike the 8km route from Rongbuk Monastery to the Everest Base Camp on my crutches on 26/20/2013. I have done my research and read through a lot of blogs from trekkers / climbers who have been to EBC and the summit. I am doing this for a good cause. I will publish a book about this expedition to raise funds for charity. Please keep me in your prayers. You are welcome to follow the updates of my expedition at http://www.facebook.com/ExpeditionToChina
    Thanks.

  24. Elisha says

    I am thinking of doing this trek next fall with Gadventures. I did the Inca Trail with them and loved it. I am curious about others in your group. Were they mostly die hard trekkers? Any beginners? I completed the Inca Trail with no training and did quite well to my surprise. I would train for the EBC trek but being slow and holding the group back is a concern in the back of my mind. My other option is the Annapurna foothills, a MUCH shorter trek. However, I fear deep down I would be longing to do the EBC if I went that route.

    • says

      My group was a complete mix – die hard trekkers, first timers, sporty people and two really old guys (only one managed to get to Base Camp). I wouldn’t say there were any complete beginners… we had all done some form of trekking before, whether it was day treks or climbing Kili! There’s no holding anyone back – there’s a guide at the front who leads and one at the back who waits. It’s REALLY important to go at your own pace on this (it’s super tough) – we even had some in the group rock up two hours after the first people arrived at the tea house. No need to worry about that :)

    • says

      Hi Elisha,

      I am also planning my EBC trip for next year. So far I have asked some people who have already done it, and it seems hiring local porter and guide is better and less expensive. If you are going with friends then this is a good option I guess. I have always found that the thought of holding the group back stresses me more than the trek itself. Annapurna Trail is a easier trail, but as you said, your heart will be at the EBC.

      Good luck on your trip :)

      • says

        You can never ‘hold a group back’. Everyone is encouraged to go at their own pace. And with a guide at the back at the group who will always stay with you, you can take as long as you need. This is not a trek to be taken lightly, and rushing will only result in something more serious. Do NOT let the thought of holding a group up stress you out. You will be surprised at the incredible support you receive from your fellow trekkers, and what you give back.

  25. Mike says

    Hi Becki, I arrived in Kathmandu yesterday and setting off on Monday, so can not wait to get up there. Just one quick question, you said you didn’t take Diamox but you had one on one of the last days. Did your guide have some for you, as I don’t know whether to buy some here or risk it and nit take any. What would you advise? Thanks Mike.

  26. says

    Hi Becki,

    Im going to EBC on the 8th december.Is the trek to EBC suitable for a beginner? As i have a 9-5 job i barely have any training nor i do much exercise.Also im still that Asthmatic kid.

    • says

      Do you walk and exercise regularly? If not, I suggest you do, in order to get your body ready for it. While you do not have to be an athlete to do EBC, a decent level of fitness is required. You will be walking long distances and hiking strenuous trekking routes for up to six hours per day, which get harder with altitude.

    • Grant Heinrich says

      You’re going to suffer mightily, Hafiz. Being one who doesn’t exercise regularly, you’re going to have a very difficult time.

  27. says

    You have well and truly put this on my bucket list. I climbed Kili at the start of the year and as you said it’s more about how you deal with the altitude. Obviously you need to have some sort of fitness to be able to trek for 6-8 hours a day but I found dealing with the altitude the harder part.

  28. says

    Wow – now I knew you did this, but for whatever reason missed this post when it went live. You truly captured what it was like.. and to be honest – I’d love to one day do it… although I likely won’t ever be able to (thanks asthma).

    Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you!

  29. Eirik says

    Hey Becki!
    Really nice sum up! I was thinking of doing this trek in march, but one thing concerns me.
    At this moment I am not very fit. But do you recon I can get in the required shape in 3 months?

  30. Andy says

    Hi Becki

    I’m planning on doing the EBC trek in October of 2014 and to be honest my biggest concern is FOOD, I am for from adventurous when it comes to food.

    Any further advise / info you can provide would be greatly appreciated

  31. Jacq. says

    Thanks for this informative and detailed account! I am hoping/planning to trek in October of this year and have been scouring for ‘honest’ and ‘real’ accounts of the trip. Yours helped put my mind at ease (well, maybe not at ease) and made me feel like I could actually do this!

  32. Chloe says

    Hi Becki,
    This is such a great insight into the trek, so thank you for that.
    I just have a few concerns as i am booked to climb to base camp in April/May this year and i have recently been told that i have asthma. It scares me that i wont be able to make the climb.
    I have inhalers and i am active. I have been training and trying to get fitter just to make it easier on my body and lungs. But it still concerns me as i would hate to not make it.
    Can you please give me some tips on how you handled the amount of exertion, exercise, altitude, dust and the cold with your asthma.
    Thank you in advance :)

    • says

      I’ve had asthma since I was 18 months old, so if I can do it… so can you!! I’ve always been active which has helped keep my asthma under control significantly.

      I informed my guide so that if anything happened, people were aware, and I also just took things at my own pace. This is really important – to not try and keep up with others. I stopped when I needed to, rested when I felt I had to get my breath back and sometimes needed help.

      I suffered more from the dust, which resulted in a terrible cough and me losing my voice, and headaches from the altitude, more so than I suffered with my asthma. In fact, that was the least of my worries when things got tough.

      Take it slow, find a pace both with your walking and your breathing, take your inhalers regularly, and ensure you have all the right clothing to keep warm.

      Us asthma sufferers can still achieve great things and I wish you lots of luck and happy adventuring to this incredible part of the world :)

      • Chloe says

        Hi Becki,
        Thank you so much for reply.
        It’s a nice little boost in confidence that i can do it too!
        I think it’s just a bit daunting at the moment, but if do what you say and just listen to my body and be prepared then i’m sure i’ll make it too.
        Thanks again,
        Chloe :)

        • Tim Nicholson says

          The walking distance is short each day on the way in. The hard part is the elevation. Also we had alot of downtime and the tea houses are cold. Even in the dining area, but we were there about 2 weeks before peak season…. so maybe then they keep a fire. … with us it was lit one time at 5 and that was it…. no more fuel added.

  33. says

    Your post makes me soooo excited, but also scared, as it looks like I’ll be doing this in just over a month – completely unplanned, but I am a regular hiker, so hoping that helps. I’m sure I’ll be contacting you with questions, but a very helpful/inspiring post. Thank you!

  34. Amber-Jane says

    Hi Becki!
    I am looking at booking with gecko adventures for this nov and just had some questions about backpacks and sleeping bags.
    What size day pack (in litres) seemed suitable? And would you suggest hiring a good sleeping bag is the way to go rather than purchasing and taking over?
    Thank you!! :)

    • says

      I normally carry a 10-15 litre daypack. Don’t take anything too large or overpack it, as you will be carrying this with you for the entire time! I hired a sleeping bag as its bulky and not something I wanted to carry with me before and after. Hiring is also more cost effective since a -20 is not something you are always going to use :)

  35. Eirik says

    I just came back from basecamp and I must say that it was surprisingly easy. I did not in any way physically prepare myself , and I can honestly say that pretty much anyone can do it. I’d suggest you go with g-adventures if you want a good and professional agency. :-)

  36. Gerda Kollmann says

    Hi Becki
    I was so excited to find your fabulous information. My daughter and I will be doing EBC in 3 weeks time. You have put my mind at rest about so many things. I was stressing that we hadn’t trained enough. I have climbed Kili twice, and didn’t have time to train for either climb. I managed fine. But my knees really took strain on the way down. This time I have been walking with strap on weights on my ankles and 10kg in a backpack 4 x a week. We are also fortunate that we live in Johannesburg, SouthAfrica which is 1600m above sea level. It looks like we will survive after all. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Ian Bayne says

      Hello Gerda,

      I am thinking of taking my family in two years time. I would love to hear about your experience when you return. I also stay in Johannesburg.

      Good luck!

  37. Ceri Williams says

    Hi Becki,

    I really enjoyed reading your account of your ascent to base-camp. This is something that I am thinking about undertaking in the next year or so, I was wondering if you could tell me what organization/company you used to book the expedition. There are quite a few and I’d like to ensure I pick one that is reputable. I’d be grateful if you could help.

    Many thanks and good luck with the rest of your travels.

    Ceri

  38. Paddy Kirby says

    Hi Becki,
    My wife and I are doing EBC in November, your article was very informative I loved it, we are going to the gym three mornings a week and going for a 10-15 km hike on weekends so I hope we will be ok, I CANT WAIT to go.

    Cheers Paddy

  39. alka nand says

    Hi Becki,

    Thanks for the informative and realistic account of yr trip to EBC. I am so impressed with your travels and hiking and so envious! We will be doing the trek this Sept/Oct with Unique Path Trekking. I had 2 concerns and would be eternally grateful if you could help me on them.
    I am 53 years old and have been hiking for several years but of course nothing as crazy as this.

    1. I feel realllyyy reallyy cold and we live in Dallas so don’t really have to face harsh winters. I was wondering what kind of jacket you used? I was planning on taking a 750-800 fill down jacket but they seems so light! I am not sure they will keep me warm even if I layer it with fleece and thermals underneath. Shd I go for a heavy ski jacket or will it be a hindrance while climbing?

    2. We recently climbed a fourteener in Colorado and it was really tough but we did it without diamox. I have herad that Diamox is only effective if u take it a couple of days before the hike. You have mentioned that u took diamox at the higher altitudes. Was it still as effective? I would also rather try to do it without the diamox and take it only when necessary if that is as effective.

    I am sure I will have more questions for you if you dont mind ;-)

    Thaaaanks!
    alka

    • says

      Hi Alka,

      I get really cold too. I had thermals, a t-shirt to layer, a fleece, down jacket and a wind-breaker/waterproof jacket. It’s best to layer up so you can layer down when you get too hot! Most of us used this system, and some had thicker wind-breaker jackets than others (which are kind of like ski-jackets). If you are really concerned, bring a down jacket AND a ski jacket. You can never be too sorry and on the last few days getting to EBC it is really cold! My ski jacket packs down pretty well.

      Although remember you are warming up through trekking!

      I never wanted to take Diamox. I think it is dangerous to mask what your body is trying to tell you. However, around three days before heading to EBC my migraines really kicked in and my guide told me that Diamox would be the best thing for me – just for those two days leading to EBC and for a couple of days after coming down. I was absolutely fine and it helped a lot. Plus the guides are VERY well trained to look out for you. Take it as pre-caution, just don’t fall foul to being addicted to it from the start like some people are.

      Good luck and you know where I am if you have any other questions!

  40. Joanne says

    Hi there, thanks so much for the interesting read. My hubby and I are currently considering this trek and have no previous experience. I have no doubt the feeling of accomplishment is immense and it would be breathtaking to see Everest in person. My question is about the experience in the days leading up to base camp – what is it like – is it interesting scenery, is there lots to see or do? I know that sounds a bit daft, but my worry is that we will just be walking through bleak terraine to get to our goal and then coming back again. Did you find the whole experience to be a positive on?

  41. Nadia says

    What a very interesting read that was. Congratulations. I wish it was something we’d done when we were younger. We are going to Nepal in a couple of months to celebrate my 60th birthday and have booked some short treks from Nagarok, where we will at least see Everest :)

  42. Krystinalovestotravel says

    Great info! My husband and I just got back from Italy but I always need a travel adventure to look forward to! I love nature and would love to do this within the next couple of years. This has been very informative. :)

  43. Stuart says

    …sounds amazing (and damn hard work!) Its high on the list of things to do – but before I get too excited about the possibility of setting off with my trusty boots I do have a question. I have a weak knee (ligament damage back in the 1990) – its never let me down yet on a hike – but will not take significant twisting. My main concern (not withstanding attitude!) is the terrain – lots of loose rubble surfaces or leaping over obstacles would be something I would be worried about. Any info on the terrain would be useful (I am aware you have no idea how much my knee will take and so cannot judge if the terrain is going to cause a problem – I am just trying to make a more informed decision – so any general comments would be useful). I will be ringing Gadventures for their view. All the best with all your travels…

    • says

      There is some loose rubble but not all the time. It’s more a mixture of up and down and steep climbs on grass, solid gravel and pathways. It’s very tough in parts for sure.

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