My hiking trip from Jiri to Mount Everest Base Camp was amazing, in general. Still, there were also many unpleasant moments, many things which weren’t luxurious, and many moments I wanted to give up. It’s an adventure, not a 5-star all-inclusive vacation. I knew that, and it’s totally fine with me. However, it was even harder in the end, then I could imagine. This is not a blog entry to keep you away from the whole thing; you should just know what you are getting into and be prepared. In the end, it was terrific, as you can read in my other entries.
Knee problems after only three days
The first six days were by far the hardest, and I had to go up for 6300 meters and down 5450 meters in only six days, 1000 meters up and 1000 meters down – every day. With my bag, which was also a way to heavy at the beginning, I destroyed my knees like this. After two days, I started feeling a slight pain in my right knee. On the third day, it was hurting so much that I had to do one rest day. On that day I went to the doctor, which only said I should keep going, it will get better. I got some painkillers and cream, that’s it. Well, she was right after a few days it got better and only hurt when I went down. The problem was that my muscles were not strong enough to support my knee, and so too much pressure went to the knee. After a while, my muscles got stronger, and so the knees stopped hurting. However, the pain never went away entirely, and as soon as I had to go down, it started hurting again.
The lesson I learned from that: Never skip leg day! I was not fit enough in my legs. I usually don’t train legs in the gym, and I had no significant hiking experience before, so it was just too much. I planned an 8-day hiking trip in India, but because of the conflict in Kashmir, I couldn’t go. So I had absolutely no training, and my knees couldn’t keep up.
Food poisoning in Gorak Shep
Gorak Shep is the nearest place to the Basecamp to sleep. It is located at 5160 meters and only has 3 or 4 tea houses to accommodate the masses of tourists. It is so cold up there that there is no running water, and some Sherpas need to carry the water from lower places up. Resulting in filthy water and poor hygienic conditions. Adding the fact that the tea houses are too full and stuff is overstrained with their task to accommodate and cook for everyone, this results in food poisoning for many tourists, including me. After sleeping there for one night, I felt nausea in the morning and had no appetite at all.
At first, I feared it would be AMS, so I started to descent. But the more I descended, the worse it got. For lunch, I ate a garlic soup as this should help against AMS, but I had to throw it up only a few minutes after eating. Because I got scared that I would have severe AMS (Throwing up is one of the symptoms), I forced myself to go down below 4000 meters. When I arrived, I was completely exhausted and had to throw up again. After one rest day in the tea house, I felt good again except that my stomach was still upset, especially after food or while smelling some food. That’s how I knew it was food poisoning, not AMS.
My tip for Gorak Shep is only to eat dry food or packaged food as everything that’s in contact with water is a treat. Even the tea could have been the cause of the water wasn’t boiling enough. So only drink bottled water, coke, or and bottled drinks and try to avoid any food which is in contact with water.
Even though I wasn’t enough prepared for such a long hike, I’m generally very fit and do a lot of sport. However, this journey was extremely exhausting for me. Especially the first six days robbed me of all my energy, and I couldn’t fully recover until the end. I fall into bed every evening around 7.30 or 8 PM and slept until 5 or 6 AM. And that sleep was also much needed. My muscles were sore on many days, and my back was hurting. But I also got a lot stronger at that time, and once my knees are ok, I’m sure I can run a lot faster than before. It was a sportive challenge with all the ups and downs.
Yeah, we all knew it would get cold. It’s 5000 meters high in the mountains; of course, it is cold. But the fact that there is only one room heated, the standard room, and also only in the evening between 5 and 8 PM makes it even colder. As long as you don’t hike, sit in the sun, or when the standard room is heated, it’s always cold. Especially the nights are getting super chilled and the mornings before hiking I hated. So, pack excellent and warm clothes.
This sounds all very negative; it’s not. It’s part of the experience, just that nobody talks and writes about it. But it’s important to know also the negative sides to prepare yourself in the right way. I would have trained a lot more if I knew my knees would hurt that much, for example. So don’t underestimate everything and prepare yourself right then you’ll have the most amazing time.
- Total countries I visited until now: 42
- Planes: 32
- Busses: 51
- Trains: 23
- Boats: 25
- Km driving: 8000
- KM driving with my Tuktuk: 2000
- Km running: 3998