Everest Region, Nepal
By Charles P. Beauzay
I did the Everest trek in April of 1999. I went with an outfitter from San Fransisco called Himalayan High Treks. I would highly recommend them. It’s cheaper than other outfitters and very experienced in this area. Obviously it’s also possible to do it on your own, although I think it would be wise to have a local guide.
The best times to go are April, May, October and November. April will be a bit warmer, but can be hazy because it’s the end of their dry season. October will be a bit colder, but the atmosphere, and thus the mountain views, will be clearer. If you start by flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, the trek from there to base camp will take about 14 days or 18 days up and back to Lukla if you take the side trip to Gokyo Ri.
There are villages, so you can stay in one every night. The inns are called tea-houses and are very cheap. I would not recommend tents as there are few places to camp but it’s possible. REI does trips, but they set up tents right outside of the tea-houses. It seemed that when I was there, the people tenting had some difficulty finding places to set up. I think it’s best to leave the tents at home and support the local teahouse businesses (they are very inexpensive by our standards).
The amount of time spent hiking each day is limited by altitude and not distance. You only go up about 1000 to 1500 feet per day and spend 2 days in Namche Bazaar (11,200 feet) to acclimatize. We had 50 to 60 degree temps during the days and down to 30 to 40 at night. It got colder as you got higher. The coldest was the night at 16,200 feet – I think it got down to 18 degrees.
You will need a warm pair of pants and a warmer jacket with winter hat and gloves. There were places that sold stuff like that in Kathmandu (back in 1999, so I’m sure there are more now). You will also need a sleeping back even if you’re staying in the tea-houses. You could even Fed Ex a package back home with stuff after the trek, or have someone mail you the stuff to your hotel in KTM. I would recommend either coming back home after the trek or going someplace very comfortable and relaxing as the high altitude hiking will kick your ass.
The Sherpa that we had has also started his own trekking company: Tamanga Expeditions. His name is Amber Tamang. He’s the greatest! He is very friendly, trustworthy, speaks English very well, and is very knowledgeable about trekking and even technical climbing
You can hire local guides in Kathmandu for about $10-20 a day. That’s a ballpark range, it maybe have changed because I was there 6 years ago. I think – it seems I remember our American guide telling us that they pay the Sherpa guides $10 day and the porters get $5 day. It sounds very cheap, but to them that is a lot of money back in 1999. Doing that is a lot more risky. – when I was there, a French guy had his guide just leave on him. Like I said, I was there in 1999 and prices may have gone up.
The guides really aren’t necessary as far as getting lost or anything. The trail is obvious and there are plenty of other trekkers, but they handle the visas and other things like picking you up at the airport, showing you around Kathmandu, and organizing the teahouses.
A couple of other things to remember:
Bring earplugs (either for sleeping or when it is really windy – it was so windy on my hike down from KP that I wore them)
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t make it to either the top of KP or Base Camp. I can’t stress enough that the altitude “kicks your ass”. I was the only one in our group of 4 that made it the year I went. You can get a prescription of Diamox. That will help with the altitude if necessary. But like I said, enjoy the hike, the people, the monasteries, and the views. Don’t put reaching base camp as the ultimate goal. I think surviving the landing at Lukla is lucky enough. Be sure to look out the plane windows as you are landing.