Walls of stone soar into the sky, capped with hanging glaciers that calve sky-scraper-size ice-blocks into the 12,000 ft. deep valley where you stand. Yaks, red ribbons in their ears, waddle down-valley carrying loads lashed-down with hemp rope. In the distance, the sun catches the summit of Ama Dablam, appearing as a massive thumb of granite knifing into the purple sky as darkness settles over camp. And the tallest mountain of them all, it’s Southwest face awash in golden rays, maintains such a bold presence at the head of the valley that you lose all sense of time as you stare, awestruck. Your skin tingles, not because you are cold, but because you are excited. You have arrived. Welcome to Everest Base Camp.
The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most desired hiking experiences on Earth, with good reason. Not only is the route historic, since this was the approach Norgay and Hillary used for their successful ascent of Everest in 1953, but it is also visually stunning and culturally rich. Although Everest is the most famous mountain to be viewed on this trek, visitors are often astonished by the size and grandeur of other peaks. Mount Thamserku, Kangtega, Cholatse, Lhotse, Nuptse, Pumori, and AmaDablam are only a few of the incredible monuments of rock, snow, and ice that trekkers will come to know through the lenses of their cameras and the mountains’ connections to local beliefs.
Everest Region, or Solukhumbu as it is called in Nepal, is the home of Sherpas. Sherpa people originally came from Tibet, and their cultural heritage is celebrated during the Tibetan New Year (called “Losar”), and other festivals. Sherpas are Buddhist, and evidence of their heritage and religion can be seen in the architecture, monasteries, and carved mani stones that we pass along the trail. Sherpa people are remarkably friendly, and we are happy to have Karma Geljen Sherpa, an 8,000 meter peak guide for expeditions such as Everest, as our local trip leader.
In the evenings, we will stay in small lodges, called “tea-houses”, where we will eat hot meals prepared for us while we gather around a wood-stove. We will sleep in rooms with beds and mattresses. It is even possible to have a hot shower at most teahouses for an extra charge.
Because we will be traveling up to elevations greater than 17,000 ft., the trekking will be difficult. In order to save our bodies, we will carry small backpacks containing only the equipment we need for the day, plus our sleeping bag. These packs weigh 25 to 30 pounds. It is also possible to employ a porter to help carry the load, which helps the local people immensely. We have a long-standing relationship with the village of Chebuche in the Everest Region, and we are happy to employ villagers for an excellent wage and we always pay for their insurance. Because we treat the local people with respect and pay them appropriately, we have made many friends in Nepal who express an interest in working with us year-after-year.
Most days, we will leave on our hike at 8am, and walk around four hours per day, with an hour break for hot lunch. A few days we will need to walk for as long as six or seven hours in order to reach our teahouse. The hiking is on maintained trail, though some sections are over moraine (the rocky piles left by glaciers), and can be arduous going at altitude. Most people find hiking at altitude similar in difficulty to light jogging. Our heart-rates and respiratory rates will be higher than usual, but will return to normal levels during rest. We will take frequent brakes, but it is important to arrive for the trek with good fitness in order to maintain our health, safety, and comfort.
Why are we going in September?
Late September is a great season for trekking. This is because the monsoon from June to August has washed the air clean of pollution and the weather is stable. We are starting in late September to avoid the tourism rush that occurs in April/May. Our timing will not only allow us to avoid crowds, it will also put us at Everest Base Camp in early October when weather tends to be optimal.
What to Pack
Here is Glen Young’s full recommended Everest Base Camp Packing List.
A breakdown of our 16 Day Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary.