Trekkers who have already walked the mountains of Nepal agrees that the Everest Base Camp trek is the most challenging trek of all time. Around 30,000 people have made the trek through the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp to catch a glimpse of the tallest mountain in the world, while only a few brave men and women will summit Everest each year.
With a little bit of preparation and determination, you will find that almost anyone can conquer the trek and tick it off their bucket list as people of all ages have completed the trek over the years.
Generally, the trek duration is the most off-putting aspect of Everest Base Camp trekking. The trek would be much harder if you tried to complete it in a short period because most of the trekking is at a slow pace and acclimatization have to be factored in.
There are still some considerations that need to be taken into account before you start the trek, despite being non-technical and entirely achievable by anyone.
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What Makes Everest Base Camp Trek Difficult?
Length of the Trek
On a typically guided trek, you will only be walking for 9 out of the 12 days as the trek seems quite long at 130km(round trip). If you consider that, you’ll see that you will be covering about 15km per day.
The average walking pace is about 5km/hour, and the 15km per day will not be on a flat, paved path. You will be trekking on quite rocky and sometimes snowy terrain that is sure to slow down your pace.
You can see how the trek becomes a bit tougher when you combine the terrain with the fact that you are generally hiking upwards, gaining altitude.
Luckily, you just have to focus on getting yourself up the trail as most tour operators will use porters or mules to carry your bags.
Therefore, you should prepare for the number of days you will be walking on the trails to reach Everest Base Camp.
Altitude and Elevation
The Everest Base Camp is undeniably at a high altitude, and it is one of the most underestimated things causing difficulty throughout the trek. The airport at Lukla is situated at double the elevation than Kathmandu, i.e. 2804 m and Kathmandu airport being at 1400 m. To induce a person with mild altitude sickness, this is a high enough altitude.
The elevation increases 600-800 meters per day, and the level of oxygen depletes if you talk about the trekking routes. Having an acclimatization day in between some trekking days is essential due to this reason. Acute Mountain Sickness caused by the increasing altitude absolutely cannot be ignored and one shouldn’t take the symptoms for granted.
It is necessary to walk slowly, use as many days as possible to reach the base camp to prevent altitude sickness. You should also have at least two rest days to adjust to the elevation and drink plenty of water to overcome dehydration. This instruction can help you prevent yourself from getting altitude sickness.
It could be challenging to reach specific heights in just a couple of days if you have not experienced any high altitude trek in your life. So the best way to prevent yourself from altitude sickness is to take more days off for acclimatization.
Make sure to learn more about altitude sickness and proper acclimatization techniques before going on the trek. We suggest seeking the doctor’s advice in case of high altitude sickness as sometimes it can bring underlying disease to the fore.
Another factor causing difficulty during Everest Base Camp trek is the temperature. Due to its unpredictable and challenging weather. Travelling to EBC in every other season of the year is not possible.
First-time trekkers are surprised to know more about the incredible temperature range that may occur in the daytime. However, compared to daytime hours, nights are much cooler in the Everest region.
The temperature at the Base Camp can drop to -12°C. However, the warmth of the Basecamp has measured a maximum of 15°C and minimum -12°C and the wind speed around 5 to 6 mph. However, the temperature was a minimum of 8°C to Maximum 20 °C during the same time of the year at Lukla.
The spring and the autumn season considers being the best time to travel to the Everest region. On the contrary, monsoon season and the winter season is not favourable to visit.
Lack of Training
The trek to Everest Base camp shouldn’t be underestimated, despite being one of the most accessible treks to everyone. However, you don’t need to quit your job or hire a personal trainer, some longer hikes and some time spent in a gym will help you prepare for the trek.
Hiking to Everest Base camp is a severe challenge that demands proper preparation. One has the best possible chance to successfully reach base camp and experience one of the most extravagant hikes in the world with proper planning and proper training.
For those individuals who are physically fit, it is sensible to start training as early as possible before your scheduled trek. Performing a usual exercise routine will help yo u build fitness, strength, and stamina. Doing exercises such as aerobics including jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. will also help you prepare for the trek. If your fitness level is less than desirable, light weight-training can be beneficial.
Hiking up and down the hill or walking at least 1 to 2 hours a day can help to increase lung capacity and focus at higher elevations and also build the stamina. Walking up and down the stairs of a tall building can help train you for the Everest Base Camp Trek if there are no hills available to hike every day.
There are cases where trekkers have returned to Kathmandu due to improper diet before reaching even halfway or due to food poisoning. The question is, what is the proper nutrition to be taken during the trek?
Well, the slaughtering of animals is strictly prohibited since the Everest Region is a Buddhist area. The meat is flown over to Lukla and carried by porters or yaks to the upper regions. Since there is a threat of food poisoning, eating food items containing meat is not recommended at all.
The local Nepali cuisine, including rice, lentils, and curry (dal, bhat, tarkari) is best to eat as local teahouses cook these regularly. To keep your body healthy regular food will be good enough. One can also carry the purification tablets and can buy drinking water easily at the local guesthouses along the trekking route.
Be sure to pack snacks and vitamin supplements. You can also pack protein bars, fruit/veggie bars, and other snacks. These will help you in case you are a picky eater.
The price of every good increase with an increase in altitude. And the prices are remarkably high as this point is at the highest elevation in the world. The cost of food and accommodation gets tripled or even more.
It is always a great idea to carry extra money in case if you want to buy other stuff as sometimes ATM at Lukla also might not work.
It is essential that multi-days trekking should not be compromised as every sport is played with the right gear.
EBC trek is like climbing a high mountain. The following items could help you to make your trek comfortable.
- Sleeping Bag
- Down Jacket
- Hiking Boots
- A pair of a thermal sweater to keep you warm
- Hiking Bag
- Hiking socks
- Comfortable dry hiking pants
- Trekking Pole
- First aid kit
Also, you could take warm hats, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, water bottle, headlamp, scarf, etc.
Things that are not required:
- Ice axe
- Climbing shoes
- Climbing ropes
Guides and Porters
You might also lose track of the trekking trails if you don’t have a guide with you. The part of the trek that is tricky to complete can be completed by the excellent ideas given by the guide. Guiding you through these trails are easy for them.
You might also suffer from accidental slips while trekking without a guide. Guides will provide you with plenty of needed medical attention in case you get altitude sickness. Other factors that contribute to altitude sickness are exhaustion and dehydration. In this case, a porter will come in extremely handy.
Trekking with your backpack for close to two weeks might leave you exhausted and might cause difficulties during the Everest Base Camp trek.
So having a guide and a porter will help to make your trek to Everest Base Camp quite easy.
Landing and taking off from Lukla is quite tricky as it is situated and surrounded by high mountains. The weather in that area is likely to change every few hours and can be very unpredictable, which is the primary reason for flight delays or cancellation. During the monsoon, the weather may not allow for the take-off since visibility may not be as good. However, in other seasons the flight delay cannot be guaranteed.
Therefore, one of the most unpredictable and challenging things in the Everest region is the flight delays to and from Lukla.
In previous records, flights have been cancelled, and travellers have been stranded in the airports waiting to fly over Lukla or head back to Kathmandu from Lukla.
Going too Fast
The difficulty of Everest Base Camp trek is increased if you make it into a race. Going too fast can get you altitude sickness and can trouble you during the rest of your trek. Some guides also suggest that people who are in the best shape also face altitude sickness because of walking too fast.
You are going too soon if you are out of breath while walking. Taking baby steps and having small goals will help you reach your destination even more conveniently. You need to be calm and slow down if you wish to enjoy the trip without facing any difficulties.
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Tips to make your Everest Base Camp Trek easy
- Make proper reservations for accommodation
- Plan your trip early so that you can have plenty of time to prepare
- Always check the weather forecast before and during your trek to adjust according to it
- Consult a right trekking agency to get rid of the hassle of managing permits, guides, and porters.
- Drink plenty of water
- Get travel insurance in case of the worst situation
- Have appropriate food while trekking
- Don’t consume alcoholic beverages during the trek as it causes dehydration and exhaustion
- Don’t skip acclimatization days
- Preserve your energy by trekking slowly
- Are you physically and mentally fit?
- Did you plan the right itinerary?
- Did you choose the best season for the trek?
- Is your trek in accordance to your fitness?
- Did you choose an excellent rated travel agency?
- Did you do your insurance and emergency medical expresses?
These are the list of the reasons people do not make it to Everest Base Camp. However, the EBC trek is one of the well-established trekking trails in the world. There are checkpoints along the way for your safety. At designated places, all the logistics and communication facilities are available. The guest house and base camps are provided with wifi facilities to communicate with your family and friends.
The keys to a successful trek are proper planning and suitable preparations. If one comes prepared for it, the trek to Everest Base camp can be enjoyable, and you will be set for the trek of your lifetime.