This girl has altitude! – Everest Base Camp Trek

First lets be clear, trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and back is hardcore and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! No it isn’t quite the summit of Everest, but that is saved for the damn right stupid! If you trek to the summit the chances are you might die, but the truth is even trekking to base camp at 5300m you can die. Altitude sickness is a killer!

On day four of our trek we witnessed someone with severe AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) on his way back from EBC, who had to be airlifted down with what was almost definitely liquid in his lungs and possible even liquid in his brain … possibly life threatening. Really helps put the whole thing into perspective… hardcore!

the real snazzy arrivals hall!

Our trek was 13 days there and back, with a couple of rest days (which actually means just as strenuous trekking) and a couple of relaxation/party days on the return to Lukla.

Here are my top tips for those of you considering trekking to Everest Base Camp.

Scariest runway ever.

  • You will get altitude sickness! Whether it is mild or major be prepared, know what to look out for, headaches, sickness, tiredness and difficulty sleeping and breathing. Drink plenty of water, ascend slowly and make sure someone else is keeping an eye on your symptoms. The cure is moving quickly to lower altitude.
  • Go Slow – DON’T RUSH! We saw people rushing up to base camp and back in just a few days, proud of their achievements, some people make it ok, others were throwing up as they walked the final few hundred yards to base camp! Take it slow not ascending more than 500m in a day and take rest days.
  • Rest days should involve walking up to higher altitude (one of the hardest days was a supposed ‘rest’ day) and back down again allowing your body to get acclimatised. Basically you don’t have rest days, until perhaps on the way down.

  • Don’t eat meat! As a hardcore meat lover this was very difficult but I was warned by several people to just grin and bear it and eat the vegetable noodles, vegetable soup, vegetable burgers and just vegetables! The food gets boring but it’s better than getting food poisoning on top of being tired and grumpy.
  • Things are expensive up high! Considering everything has to be carried on the back of human’s or yaks it isn’t surprising that you pay £3 for a coke or bottle of water. Cope without or splash the cash!

  • You will be dirty! Showers are few and far between and as for hot showers you will be lucky to get one or two. The toilets are pretty grim too. You get used to it and remember everyone is equally smelly and gross.
  • Try and go with people at the same speed and fitness level as you. This isn’t easy to know in advance, especially if you are going in a group with people you don’t know.

  • Take medication – paracetamol, blister plasters, knee and ankle supports and altitude sickness medicine such as Diamox.
  • You will pass many Tibetan prayer stones and prayer wheels. As respect for their religion you walk round by the left and can turn the prayer wheels clockwise to clear your soul.

A few Nepali words that could come in useful

Namaste              hello, goodbye, good afternoon etc. Basically all greetings said while putting your hands in the prayer position and bowing your head a little.

Swagatum           You’re welcome

Jam Jam               Let’s go

Teek Cha             Are you well?

Thank you           Dhanyabaad

Charlie’s Angels?! Armed Security guard

My trek was with an organisation called ‘Nepal Uncovered’ we had two bloody brilliant guides! One who was very knowledgeable on everything about the trek, the mountains, Nepal and the other who was just a true joker and entertained us the whole way up with nicknames, singing and dancing. I was lucky with the group on the trek too, a mixture of old friends and new friends, there was lots of laughing as we trekked. Together it was a perfect group to trek with and definitely helped make it a brilliant experience. Next stop the summit of Everest…?

For other Exciting holidays in the snow check out my post on dog sledding or skiing in Austria or for a new challenge… how to spend a night sleeping in the snow!

Comments

  1. says

    Highly informative post. Keep on posting such a informative post. I would really like to do Everest Base Camp Trekking In Nepal before I die.

    • jlowthrop says

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope to have more similar adventures in the future so keep an eye out.

      Jen

  2. says

    Hi, I was searching on “Everest Base Camp Trekking in Nepal” and came across your blog. I read it and found it to be very useful as even I want to try “Everest Base Camp Trekking in Nepal”. Apart from the various sites I was visiting I came across http://www.gloriousnepal.com and would like to know whether these services are good or not. And I also wanted to know; which is the most scenic route to take while doing “Everest Base Camp Trekking in Nepal”. I am asking you for advice as I found your article in detailed. Waiting for reply……..

    • jlowthrop says

      Hi Carter,

      The link you put in leads to a website without any information. I am glad you enjoyed the post and found it useful. I do recommend doing the trek, it was a lot of hard work but a lot of fun too and such a massive sense of achievement when you back to the base!

      I did my trek with Nepal Uncovered http://www.nepal-uncovered.com/ They were brilliant and my guide Ram was amazing, so full of information and enthusiasm and very experienced.

      With regards to the most scenic route… every way is scenic! the views are like nothing you have seen before, the largest mountains in the world every way you turn… spectacular.

      Good luck and let me know if I can answer any more questions.

      Jen :)

  3. mansur says

    hi,
    thanks for the info…short and to the point…i was taking the altitude sickness bit lightly but after reading your thread ill be more careful…ill be doing the everst base camp trek next month(arnd mid-may)..i am 28 yrs old and im a fitness trainer so the trek shldnt be so tough physically but yeah besides the altitude im having trouble figuring out which group to take…a bit confusing with all the travel companies on the internet…ive never done a trek before or been to nepal…really looking forward to it…still looking for some like minded and fun loving ppl for the trek and hopefully ill find them in kathmandu…cheers…

  4. jlowthrop says

    Hi Mansur,

    Glad you found the post informative. Do be aware of what your body is telling you as you do the trek as altitude can affect everyone differently, regardless of fitness levels.

    I am sure you will find some fun loving trekkers to join with in Kathmandu, I got really lucky with a brilliant group to trek with and hope you do too.

    Good luck

    Jen

  5. Trekking annapurna mountains says

    I would love to do the Mount Everest base camp trek but altitude sickness really is terrifying. When it hits you do you know right away that you have altitude sickness as opposed to just being tried/cranky/exhausted? So unfortunate your boots were falling apart at the same time as well!

    • jlowthrop says

      It effects everyone in different ways. Often if you have it really bad you don’t know as you can be delirious. That is why it is important to go as a group and keep an eye on each other. You should know when something is not right, vs just being tired and cranky. If you feel you are not well, just go down the mountain and you should feel better… the only cure is moving down. Don’t let the altitude put you off, the worst that happens is you don’t make it to the top (base) but you will still have an amazing experience.

  6. shashank says

    I have a question. So many foreign tourists come to trek. What is the general attitude of trekkers in throwing garbage around while trekking or in between camps.

    • jlowthrop says

      It is actually not as bad as people say it is. There was little to no litter on my route up to basecamp. it is further up the mountain where there are apparently lots of discarded oxygen bottles and rubbish that ‘proper’ climbers dump to lighten to the load on the route up. This has apparently also been cleaned up a lot recently.

      I certainly didn’t see much rubbish at all so don’t let it put you off.

      Jen

  7. Betsy Bowen Hampton says

    Loved your blog, very informative. I have a friend who will be going to Base Camp, I have included her story I have written about her.

    Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

    Evvie Dunkel Heilbrunn created a “Bucket List,” many years ago, at the top of her list was to visit Base Camp at Mt. Everest. Evvie is a two-time Breast Cancer survivor and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2009. Evvie is the mother of four; before being diagnosed with PD she was a successful litigation attorney in DC.

    As Evvie put it, “I’m 57 years old, have had breast cancer twice and live with Parkinson’s, not your poster child of health. Frankly, after I was diagnosed with breast cancer (the second time) I scratched Base Camp off my list and reconciled myself to the fact that it would never happen.”

    Some might call her journey a miracle; others would simply call it fate. In early 2012 Evvie reconnected with a friend from Upper Arlington High School (suburb of Columbus, Ohio), he too was going through chemotherapy. They quickly became “chemo buddies. “When you are going through chemo it can be a lonely journey. Unless you’ve “been there-done that”, you just don’t get it. Chemo was no walk in the park, having someone to share my thoughts with was my saving grace. My friend Greg became my sounding board and in the end he became my inspiration.” Sadly Greg passed away in August 2012. “The greatest gift I was given by Greg was a love of life. Even through the worst of times he had a smile on his face and a kind word to share.”

    As fate would have it, after Greg died Evvie met his brother and mentioned her bucket list, he told her about a group out of La Jolla that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011, and among them were three Parkinson’s patients. He went on to say, “The group is called Summit4StemCell, they are planning a trip to Base Camp in 2013.” Evvie was speechless, is it possible that she could accomplish what she thought was now impossible. The next day Evvie contacted Summit4StemCell, they invited her to join them in climbing for a cause. Evvie will take the trek of a lifetime in October 2013, in doing so; she will check Base Camp off her bucket list.

    In October of 2012 Evvie visited Scripps Center for Regenerative Medicine and had a chance to tour the Loring Lab and to meet some of the other folks who are going to Everest with her. The research focuses on non-embryonic stem cell research. She could hardly contain her excitement, “I saw up close the work that Drs. Loring and Houser are doing and it truly is amazing. I was filled with hope after visiting the lab. I honestly feel that someday there will be a treatment that can help me and others with Parkinson’s.”

    Summit4StemCell is led by Sherrie Gould, a nurse practitioner at the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center. As a member of the Summit4StemCell team Evvie is climbing for a cause, the goal is to inspire people with PD to move beyond their physical limitations.

    Evvie is in the process of training for her trek, sometimes this can be overwhelming. She will be documenting her journey to share with others.

    This is a story of survival and perseverance.

    • jlowthrop says

      Amazing Story! I am wishing you the best of luck and look forward to hearing your amazing story when you have reached Everest Base Camp. I have every faith you will!

  8. says

    Jen,
    Your blog is brilliant. I’m going to EBC next October! I have Parkinson’s Disease and I’ll be going with a group of others with PD. I’m training like mad, and from what you say it looks like I’ll need every bit of it before I go.
    Thanks so much for the information. I’ll add it to my list of “things to enjoy” (I’m pretty optimistic) on my way to EBC!
    Evvie
    Virginia, USA

    • jlowthrop says

      Thanks Evvie, I am so glad you enjoyed the blog and found it useful. I wish you loads of luck for your trip to EBC next October. It will be tough but I am sure you will have an incredible time. That first view of the peak of Everest makes you want to run the rest of the way up (I don’t recommend doing that though ;))

      Have fun and stop by and let me know how it went next year.

  9. says

    I visited Nepal in 1996 and fell in love with the country and the people.I vowed to return one day and that dream came true as I trekked alongside the Xtreme Everest Expedition 2 in 2013.Doing the Everest Base Camp Trek is one of life’s must – do journeys.Everyday I think of the fantastic experience I had and being able to sleep in a tent at EBC was one of the highlights alongside summiting Kala Pattar.
    The scenery is out of this world,the vistas are mind blowing and the air so crisp and clean lends itself to fabulous photographic memories.The flight in to the world’s most dangerous airport is not that bad.One word of advice,sit on the left of the plane for some spectacular views of the Himalayas bathed in sunlight.

    Truly a once in a lifetime experience that is hard to put into words.

  10. says

    wow your blog is brilliant because i wanna got to Mount everest. And i got more information about altitude and others. I am Angji Sherpa form Nepal i am preparing to climb everest.

  11. says

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful information particularly the ultimate section :) I maintain such info a lot. I used to be seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and best of luck.

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