It is the dream of every adventure seeker to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. However, it is not a feat achievable by all trekkers in the world. While many have tried, only a few have been successful in conquering the majestic summit of Everest. There are some super-humans who have made history by climbing the formidable peak many times and keep doing so every year, and for the rest of us, the next best adventure is- Everest Base camp Trek.
Even though Base camp trek doesn’t receive as much admiration, it is one of the most exciting, challenging and fun treks in Khumbu region. Reaching as close as the base of the majestic mountain and being able to admire the beauty and enigma of the peak, Everest base camp trek is a truly enriching experience. For those trying to complete this euphoric trip, the main concern is how difficult the trek really is. Below is a compilation of different difficulties that might arise during the trek.
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Duration of the Everest Base Camp Trek
The itinerary to the base camp differs according to the travel agencies, the route followed and the leisure days were taken by the trekkers. Most of the trips are usually 2 weeks long out of which you will be trekking for 9 days. Every day you will be trekking for 5/6 hours. While it is an average duration, people who are not accustomed to physical activities for an extended period of time might have difficulty performing the assigned hours of trekking. The best way to tackle this is to set a hiking or walking routine a few months prior to the actual trek so the body gets accustomed to the exertion.
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Total Distance for Everest Base Camp Trek
The total distance covered during the trip is 65 km with an average of 15 km per day. The average time might be long or short depending on whether you are a novice or an expert trekker. More than the distance, it is the terrain you should be worried about in this wilderness trek. Some parts of the trek are easy and leveled while others are very slippery, steep, and rocky and during winter icy and snowy. Even during short treks, some days the duration might be longer due to weather conditions.
The difficulty here is walking on steep ascends or rocky trails that all trekkers might not be used to. Even if you are in a good shape, the lack of practice could lengthen the trip or cause physical exertion or even bruises and blisters. It is best if you practice hiking in different terrain with slopes, rocks, and tricky trails. If you are a novice trekker, we recommend you to hire a porter to carry your heavy bags to prevent any kind of mishap in the trails during the total distance of about 115 kilometers.
The trip begins from Kathmandu at 1400 meters while the trekking officially begins from Namche at 3000 meters. From Lukla airport, trek proceeds to the destination, Everest Base camp at 5364 meters. The change in altitude from 1400 m to 5364m within a few days is a huge challenge for the human body. It is essential to start acclimatizing at the beginning so that the body adapts to the rising altitude areas and does not suffer any health problems later. It is advised to hike for a few hours and rest enough in the first few days to allow for proper acclimatization.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a serious condition caused by the rising altitude and the thinning oxygen levels as the trek proceeds. It has symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, loss of appetite and many others and while it can be moderate for some, it can even be fatal for others. Many trekkers have returned after a short distance due to the effects while some even have to be airlifted due to severe conditions.
Altitude is the most important factor in this trek that has a huge impact on the health of trekkers. It is important to know and be wary of the signs and symptoms of AMS as well as the preventive measures. Acclimatization is the best measure to prevent AMS, but there are also some medicines available to carry in the trek.
As people of all ages, physical and health conditions are susceptible to Altitude Sickness, it is very important to take it seriously, seek medical advice in advance and follow proper preventive measures rather than curative actions.
Lack of Training
Everest base camp is considered one of the most challenging treks in Nepal. So, it is not possible for a person to just pick a random date and say they want to reach the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. The trek demands a healthy body and a little bit of experience even if it means just a normal walking routine.
Trekkers usually start training 6 weeks prior to the trek so that they are fit and healthy to tackle the daily exhaustions of the trek. Anyone without prior training might have a problem adapting to 6 hours of trekking every day. Some days are easier when the trail is leveled whereas rocky and steep trails make other days more tiring.
The training program should mainly focus on cardio training, stamina, leg strength and flexibility as these are most demanded by the trek. Once you have mastered these four aspects, even the long ascents and steep trails can be completed easily without any serious hassles. Even simple exercises such as jogging, swimming, stretches and lunges can even be helpful in maintaining fitness. However, in the case of a trek, mental preparedness is equally important to successfully complete the trips. Having clear determination and alertness can be very handy when it comes to actual trekking.
It is also recommended to use weights during exercises or hiking. Gradually increasing the weight to be carried up to 12 kg ensures that you can easily carry your backpacks during the most difficult ascents. You should also try to hike in uneven terrain with uphill and downhill trails. It is very important to maintain a pace so that you do not physically exert yourself. Other considerations are proper hydration, food consumption, proper sleep and spending as less energy as possible. With all the proper training, it is possible to make EBC trek a challenging yet easy trip.
Luggage (Gears, weight, and other requirements)
EBC trek is about two weeks long in average and is one of the most challenging treks in Khumbu region.
Treks during winter are more challenging due to the weather, icy trails and higher risks of health problems. It is important to include all the required gears and other belongings to avoid any hassle while making sure you do not have to carry unnecessary weight. The following are the essentials to be carried to EBC.
Clothing should include a number of garments for layering as you will be sweating during ascents and shivering as soon as you rest or the temperature drops. So, your clothing should range from sweat absorbent underwear and shirts to those that protect you from the wind and cold. Waterproof jackets, raincoats, and umbrellas are also very essential along with the following.
Short sleeved shirts to layer
Woolen blend trekking socks
Trekking pants with zip-off bottoms
Lightweight as well as heavy sweaters
Rainproof pants and jackets
Down jackets and vests
A Pair of Trekking boots
Pair of Gloves
Pair of scandals
Watch with alarm clock
Headlamp (for nights and tricky trails)
Medicines for altitude, Diarrhea, cold, nausea, and any other health conditions you might have.
Toiletries (Shampoo, Soap, Towel, Toilet Paper, Hand sanitizer, other personal requirements)
Important Documents to carry at all times
Ensuring that you have these documents with you at all times is the safest and most secure way to travel in any part of Nepal.
Enough cash (most places do not have ATMs)
While packing, it is important to consider that you do not under or over pack. People usually carry about 20 kg which is ideal whether you carry it yourself or hire a porter. Carrying the above mentioned list ensures you have everything you need while not overburdening yourself. It is a good idea to take well-fitted clothes, break-in the shoes to avoid blisters and bruises during the trek, and check whether lamps, clocks, and electronics are fully functional.
Picking the right seasons for the trek
The best time to tour any part of Nepal is during spring or autumn. These include months from February to April and then September to November. Trekking to EBC is the most ideal during October-November as there is no rain, moderate temperature, and the trails are blooming with rhododendron and other beautiful flora. This minimizes any problems due to the cold temperatures and provides unhindered views of the mountains throughout the trail. December, January, and February are the coldest months with snowfalls and avalanches and also might cause health problems due to falling temperatures. While it is okay to trek any time during spring and autumn, the best months would be Late March to May and Late September to November.
It is possible to complete Everest Base camp trek without any serious problem or health issues if these difficulties are handled properly. It is a naturally blessed, culturally rich and physically and mentally demanding trip that you will remember all your life. With proper physical fitness and mental determination, EBC can be one of the most memorable adventures of your life!