What You Need to Know Before Going to Everest Base Camp

Posted on 25 March 2019

Trekking on Mount Everest

To see the top of the world,  is an amazing experience (Photo: Pixabay)

The ultimate expedition, literally the highest goal - Mount Everest, requires, nay, demands some serious prepping.

Even if you are not having literally the highest goal in the world, conquering the summit of Everest, you should really get informed. Going to the highs of Everest Base Camp (EBC) is not yet another hiking trip.

You are going to the roof of the world on the other side of the planet. And it’s gonna be a wonderful hike.

There are two Everest Base Camps 

Did you know that there are two Everest Base Camps?

  • The South Base Camp at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,598 ft) is located in Nepal
  • The North Base Camp (16,900 ft) at a height of 5,150 meters is situated in Tibet 

The primary purpose for both camps, as their name suggests, is acclimatisation for serious climbers, those alpinists who are on their life adventure to conquer the world.

But base camps, especially the Nepalese one, became popular destinations for Himalayan trekking. They can become the highest point of your journey. And you can go there even if you are not a world class alpinist, you just have to be in good shape and train a little.

Map of Mount Everest

It is easier to visit the South Base Camp in Nepal 

We recommend visiting the South Everest Base Camp, not because it’ s more beautiful but because it’s easier to get there. For Tibet, you have to have permission from the Chinese government.

You can save yourself some nerves by choosing Nepal, you’ll be joining thousands of trekkers that go there every year.

Now, when you know where exactly to go, plan wisely when to go.

When to go to Everest Base Camp?

When you are going to a place much higher than the clouds, time of departure is really important. 

The best time to travel to the Everest base camp is in April and May, while mid-June is still acceptable.

This is when the weather is the mildest it can be at 17,060 feet and onwards, hence the impressive views of the Himalayas will always be visible. Much needed motivation on the journey up.

The second season for hiking in the Himalayas is in autumn after the monsoon seasons passes. September, October, and November temperatures are not that far off spring weather, but winter is a different animal.

How Well Prepared do you Have to be to go to the Everest Base Camp?

To conquer the highest peak in the world, you have to be a top alpinist with an iron will. Even if you are one of them, there’s a risk you will never return from Sagarmatha. 

Five people died trying to ascent Everest in 2018, bringing the number of 21st-century deaths to 129.

But if you’re a trekker going to more than 11,000 feet lower Everest Base Camp you are much safer. Of course, you have to be prepared for the effects of high altitudes.

High altitude means less oxygen

When you’re up above the clouds air becomes poor in oxygen which can cause altitude sickness. It’s a negative health effect that occurs above 2,500 metres with symptoms that include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, dizziness and tiredness.

Human bodies are made for living at sea level so the higher you go, there’s much more chance you will weaken.

Of course, you have to listen to your body once you’re up there and get yourself in great shape before the trip.

Hiking, running, cycling or swimming every day

That means a lot of hiking, “run to the hills” exercises and any other kind of aerobic activity that will improve the cardiovascular system of the body, resulting in a better coping mechanism for the lack of oxygen.

Trail running preparation for Himalaya trekkingPrepare yourself for the Himalayas with trail running (Photo: Pixabay)

Jogging, swimming, walking and cycling should be part of the weekly, if not daily, routine for at least three months before touching down in Everest Base Camp.

A visit to the doctor, a cardiologist to be exact, is recommended especially for older adventurers.

Not that we want to scare you, but the Himalayas are tricky. We Brits are not used to that. Our highest peak is only 1,345 metres high. 

Maybe you heard about a 49-year old woman from the United Kingdom, Debra Wilding, who lost her life coming down from EBC from the effects of altitude and exertion.

Along with preparing yourself for the lack of oxygen, prepare yourself for the cold.

The number of lost limbs and fingers isn't calculated but would probably give all sawmills in the UK a run for their money.

While looking at the map and the itinerary is beneficial for the piece of mind it will bring, climbing Everest is the tourist attraction of that rugged part of the planet and there is a helpful industry around it.

Climbing without sherpas is reserved just for the most experienced.

What is the Necessary Equipment?

Backpacks of all sizes are needed when trekking to Everest Base Camp

All you have is the things you carry (Photo: Pixabay

Weight is always an issue at extremely high altitudes, so the only the bare necessities are advised to be carried. 

Yet bare means so much more at 17,598 feet. At this altitude, not only is it cold, which everyone expects, it's also scorchingly sunny, so a combination of ski and sea trip accessories are needed.

Layering for clothing is key as single garments will need to be removed often based on the weather’s mood. 

  • Wool base layer
  • Wool underwear
  • Wool socks
  • Long wool underwear
  • Balaclava 
  • Mummy liner 
  • Microfiber towels 
  • Gloves liner 
  • Waterproof pants 
  • Outer waterproof mitten
  • Duffel bag 
  • Backpack
  • Daypack (smaller backpack)
  • Trekking pants
  • Cold weather jacket
  • Cold weather pants
  • Gaiters
  • Chapstick 
  • Iodine tablets for water purification 
  • Blister kit
  • Book (it will get boring at times)
  • Headlamp
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder
  • Duct tape 
  • Trekking towel
  • Pee bottle or funnel
  • Waterproof ziplock bags 
  • Sunglasses (two pairs)
  • Optics
  • Nose guard 
  • Lots of wet wipes

How do you get to Everest base camp?

All paths to Everest base camp start from the nearest town with an airport, and that is Lukla. Prepare mentally for a bumpy ride in the smallest aeroplane you'll be in unless you skydived, and more importantly, be prepared for the strongest turbulence you'll ever feel caused by the mighty mountains.

Lukla airport

The starting point is Lukla airport, the highest airport in the world (Photo: Pixabay)

The aeroplanes which fly to Lukla don't have radars, resulting in them being able to fly only when cleared for weather and hence delays are often. Arm yourself with patience from the start, after all, climbing the Himalayas isn't a sprint, it's an ultra-marathon. With a gorgeous view.

The starting point of the trek, Lukla, sits tall at 9,383 ft. Which means 8,215 feet of height is in front of the travellers to be conquered in the next 10 days, as are 40 miles of steps.

The initial trek goes along the loud Dudh Kosi, the highest river in the world in terms of elevation.

A three-hour hike leads to a common resting spot of Phakding, a settlement lower than Lukla by a couple of hundred feet, which offers plenty of accommodation and all the fruits of modern civilization.

The next day's voyage continues with the company of Dudh Kosi while waiving off several villages in between the final day's destination of Namche Bazaar. This marks the entrance to the Sagarmatha national park, which requires a fee and filling up some paperwork.

The most exciting parts of the trek to the Everest Base Camp are the often crossings of the Dudh Kosi via hanging bridges, which evoke the memories of Indiana Jones movies.

Hanging bridge Nepal trekking

Crossing the highest river in the world feeling like Indiana Jones (Photo: Pixabay)

Only visually, as they are made of steel and the "prayer flags" on them are just a sign of tradition continuing on. The final push to Namche will be challenging as it is all uphill and will end with a police check-point where the tickets for Sagarmatha must be shown.

The entire trek to Everest Base Camp is planned with the idea of conquering a height during the day, then sleeping at a lower altitude in order to adjust.

Tengboche Monastery, the largest Buddhist temple in the region is the most notable, or only, sightseeing attraction in the traditional sense. And while beautiful and buzzing, the EBC trek is all about the natural wonders.

Dingboche is the next step and usually, a rest day used for acclimatization from where will the expedition go on to Gorak Shep, the last step before EBC. The climb to the base camp will be about three hours long, but this will mark just the half of the trip, as the journey back remains.

What Documents do I Have to Arrange for visiting Mount Everest Base Camp?

You can’t visit EBC if you don’t have a passport, and it needs to be valid for 6 months after the trip. So are two copies of the first page of the passport. They must be sent in advance digitally.

Aeroplane tickets to Nepal's Kathmandu, and from there to Lukla are the next step. Nepal Visa form is needed as well and may be obtained at Kathmandu Airport.

You’ll need four passport photos for this purpose. Nepalese require travel insurance policy documents which must include helicopter rescue, and this affects the next point of the introduction.

This is all still much simpler than trying to ascend from the Chinese side, which would make the ascent shorter up to 10 days, but will cause more bureaucratic headaches.

How Much Does it Cost to Trek to Everest Base Camp?

If a person already owns the equipment listed, the trekking experience of a lifetime can be arranged by some agencies for just £815. Although, prices are usually somewhat higher, which shouldn't be surprising for a 15-day trip across the world and on top of it.

These packages include English-speaking local guides, assistants, porters for the trek, all the flights, and transports, hotels (in Kathmandu) and teahouse lodges along the trek path.

Meals are usually left to the trekkers, but won't cause a massive expenditure, around £230 pounds for 15 days can be achieved, depending on the person.

The addition of travel insurance, vaccinations, visas, tickets, and other miscellaneous costs can bring the cost to +£2,000. Depending on luck in finding the right offers, as for any tourist trip.

Is it worth it?

Nepal Everest trekkingA place like no other in the world (Photo: Pixabay)

... you be the judge of that.

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