The Mount Everest Base camp is at 5364 meters above sea level. It is an 8 to 16 days hike to get there, and in total, the journey takes about 12 to 22 days, depending on the way how you depart from Kathmandu and which way you go. I’m about to go on this big journey, and the big question is: How do I prepare for that?
It’s not a short trip to Thailand, or just a week in Spain, this is an adventure, and it can’t be done just like that. There are many things you have to pay attention to; otherwise, it can get quite dangerous. And you should start planning this trip some months in advance.
The first question you have to ask yourself is if you are fit enough? The way isn’t the most difficult one, but the altitude is making every step a lot harder. Is your body fit enough? Are you in good physical condition with no significant illnesses? If you can answer these questions with a clear yes, that’s an excellent first step. If you are not sure, then you must ask yourself if you will be able to get to that point in between the planning and the actual hike. If not, better wait one more year and train in the meanwhile.
Even if you are fit enough, you still have to ask yourself if you get the needed motivation to trek for up to 22 days every day, sleep in tea houses, and don’t take a shower most of the time. Do you like hiking and the challenge enough to take this on you?
If you feel ready, fit, and motivated, then the real planning can begin.
When should I go?
You must choose the right time to do the trek. Weather is an essential factor in managing the trek. If you want the wrong time of the year, it might rain, which can get quite dangerous, or it is merely to cold. I choose November to do the trek as this is the high season, and most people do it around that time. The weather isn’t too cold, and there isn’t any rain, usually. Other good months are October, December, April, and May.
Which road do I take?
Flying or bus? Cheap or expensive? Short or longer? One of the most critical questions is to decide if you take a plane to Lukla or take a bus to Jiri and hike an extra five days. I was thinking a lot about that question, and I finally decided on the bus and the additional days of hiking. First of all, I save a lot of money as the flights are quite expensive. Besides are the flights dangerous because the airport in Lukla is one of the most dangerous airports in the world, and flights get canceled regularly because of bad weather.
The most important reason, however, is the better acclimatization you get on the way to Namche Bazar. In the first days from Jiri to Namche Bazar, the trek goes up and down, your body gets used to the height a lot better, and the risk of getting AMS is a lot smaller. Besides, your legs and body are used to hiking. Once you arrive in Namche Bazar, your body is applied to the height, acclimatized, and used to hiking – your chances to succeed are a lot higher.
Inform yourself about AMS
AMS or altitude mountain sickness is a serious and widespread condition while trekking in high altitudes. Over 3000 meters above sea level, the risk is way higher, and the base camp is at 5364 meters, so it’s important to know what it is and how to prevent it or how to react in case you get it. I’m not a doctor, and you can find an excellent article about it on the web, but in short: When you get higher in altitude, the level of oxygen in the air is decreasing, and your body gets less oxygen. This can lead to headaches, sickness, and in the worse case, even to death. And you wouldn’t be the first one dying from that on the base camp trek. There are not many methods to prevent it; the most important rule is to not accent to fast after 3000 meters. Only 300 meters per day is the key, and on some points, you have to do acclimatization days. Also, you can take some preventive medicine like Diamox, but there is nothing that 100% prevents it. More important is to know how you have to react once you feel symptoms. Therefore you have to know the symptoms first. The most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, and problems to sleep. In an advanced stadium, you might throw up and get unconscious. The only thing that helps is to descend to a lower altitude. Best is that you do this as long as you are still able to walk down yourself. If you feel too weak, the only thing is to call a helicopter and go down that way. As soon as you descend, you should contact the better. But please read some professional blogs and articles about this topic as it is essential.
Get the right insurance
As I said, there is a possibility that you have to get down by helicopter and this will be expensive. As far as I know, around 5000 USD. So you better have proper travel insurance which covers this case as well. My insurance from Nomads covers a rescue up until 6000 meters.
Buy the right equipment
Obviously, you need the right equipment and the right clothes to do this trek. What exactly and where to get it can you read in my next blog entry
Go to the Gym
Even if you are fit and feel you can do it, you can always improve your abilities in the gym. Get some inspiration on what exercises are suitable for a better trekking endurance and do some of them in the weeks or months before the trek.
These are the significant points of preparation I followed. The most important ones are to inform you about AMS and about the right time to do it. I’ll start my trek in a few days, and I can’t wait to tell you if I made it or failed and about my experiences.
- Total countries I visited until now: 42
- Planes: 31
- Busses: 49
- Trains: 23
- Boats: 25
- Km driving: 8000
- KM driving with my Tuktuk: 2000
- Km running: 3585