The world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, has captivated travelers for many generations. Once a lethal adventure, getting of glimpse of this magnificent mountain has now become an achievable goal. Mt. Everest Base Camp is now accessible to most visitors and apart from the breathtaking serenity, tourists will also get to experience and understand the unique Sherpa culture. However, there are certain things that you must keep in mind before planning to get a glimpse of this highest peak. The Week spoke to Mukti Pandey, owner of Himalayas on Foot Pvt. Ltd., to help you plan a safe and memorable trip to the base camp of Mt. Everest.
Weather at the base camp
You will be surprised to know that this region has an extremely irregular weather. “Although the weather can be predicted slightly based on the season, you have no idea what this Everest area will bring to you,” says Pandey. March to May is the best time to visit this base camp. The temperature at this time fluctuates between 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
July to mid-September is the period of constant and heavy rain, making it unsuitable for trekking.
Just like the spring season, end of September to November is a good time to visit the base camp. Days are generally warm and humidity is low. The winter season may fail to display those beautiful spring flowers but clear blue skies will surely make up for that.
Getting in shape
The Mt. Everest base camp trek is one of the most difficult treks in Nepal. As Pandey states, “This is a two-week long trek that will require special training and preparation for its successful completion. All the exercises can be done at home.” Many people irrespective of their age and physical disabilities have been able to complete this trek. “It is not about how fit you are but how well you prepare for it,” says Pandey. Those who have never been to the mountains must prepare at least six months prior to this trip. The height of 5634 meters for some may be extremely challenging, but prior training can make it adventurous and exciting.
Strengthen training is extremely important before planning this trek. You will probably be walking uphill for more than six hours a day, that too carrying a heavy luggage. You must be sure to strengthen your legs to get the optimum experience of the trip. Practicing squats, lunges, step aerobics, leg curls everyday can help you build strength. The upper body needs to be strengthened as well, which can be developed through shoulder presses, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, swings, and lifts.
Higher altitudes usually have less oxygen. Hence, cardio vascular training is required to help your body deal with oxygen deprivation for a long period of time. Physical exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and running for at least six months is recommended. This will make your body fit and the trek more enjoyable.
Going for short hikes before you start your trek to Mt. Everest base camp is recommended. Try different hiking routes every time and also carry weight bags to get accustomed to trekking. If there are no hiking trails around the place you live, try climbing the staircases. “Mixing exercise with trekking is the best way to go about it,” says Pandey.
“Even though it is not possible to prepare for what one faces at the base camp, ample exercises and an encouraging guide or partner can help you attain your goal,” says Pandey adding that embarking on this trek of a limetime also requires a positive mindset and a can-do attitude as well.
Gears & clothing
As gears and clothing are an essential part of the trek, here Lakhifuti Sherpa, sales associate at Sherpa Adventure Gear in Thamel, Kathmandu, will help you plan a warm and comfortable trip.
“You should wear at least four layers on your upper body and three layers on your lower body,” says Sherpa. The inner most layers should be thermal tops and bottoms. They are extremely comfortable and have the ability to absorb sweat. The next layer must comprise of fleece tops that will keep you warm even in extremely cold temperatures. Lightweight down jacket is a must for trekking as they are extremely warm and comfortable. These even occupy very less space in your luggage. For your legs, light weight trekking pants are essential. And the outermost layer must be a waterproof pant and a water proof jacket.
“If you are low on budget, invest in shoes,” says Sherpa. Your shoes will be your best friend in this long trip, hence you must buy good waterproof boots. People mostly wear multiple layers of socks in this trip. Sherpa advises you to wear thin socks inside that can absorb sweat and woollen socks on the outside. Remember to carry four pairs of thin socks and two pairs of the woollen ones. Also remember to take plastic slippers and sandals along. You will require them when you shower or at times when you want your foot to breathe.
Caps and sunglasses
Remember to take woollen caps and sunglasses. At higher altitudes, the UV rays are more harmful for your eyes.
You must carry a sleeping bag as the temperature at night reaches falls ten degrees. Your sleeping bag must be suitable for your body shape and must contain an insulated hood for extra warmth. Your backpack must not be extremely heavy. Make sure you have a bag that distributes the weight evenly between your shoulders and waist. A waterproof cover for your bag is essential. Also carry plastic bags to keep your dirty clothes and other waste materials.
Medicals & essentials
Amidst all the excitement about the trip we often leave out essential items. Rishi Bhandari of Satori Adventures Pvt. Ltd. helped us in compiling a perfect trekking packing list for an unforgettable adventure.
Water bottles and water purification tablets
Mineral water may get extremely expensive as you go higher. Hence, water bottles and water purification tablets are recommended.
Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
Rays of the sun at higher altitude can be extremely harmful. Make sure you protect yourself from the UV rays and use a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 to 30. Also remember to carry a moisturiser as the trekking trails may be windy and dry.
You will require basic toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste and toilet paper. A pack of wet wipes can be really handy as there will be scarcity of water in the mountains. Also carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you and pack a light weight towel as well.
First aid kit
Due to the change in environment, almost all trekkers suffer from headaches. Hence, a pain reliever is a must. Apart from that, you must carry basic first aid kit and other personal medicines that you may have been prescribed. According to Bhandari, having antibiotics at higher altitudes is not advisable so just stick to packing painkillers.
Take torches with you as there may be no electricity supply. Torches will be very useful at night and during early mornings. You will surely take a camera with you but also consider packing a pair of binoculars to get a closer view of those beautiful mountains.