For trekkers and adventure seekers, it’s the ultimate. The pinnacle of hiking experiences. The highest place on the planet Earth. Mount Everest.
There are several ways to experience the power that is Mount Everest, and you don’t have to pay tens of thousands of dollars and risk your life to try hiking to the summit of the world’s highest peak. At a ridiculous 29,029 feet (8848 meters) and rising, summitting it is literally putting your life at risk.
If you are into hiking, trekking, and adventures, and you love taking in some of the best vistas the world has to offer, there are other ways to do it that don’t put your life on the line or cost you your life savings. Here at BootsnAll, we have teamed with Global Basecamps to offer a few trips to experience Everest, including hiking to Everest Basecamp (17,500 feet – 5400 meters).
- Everest Basecamp Trek – This 15 day trip takes trekkers through some amazing landscapes, including views of some of the world’s tallest and most famous peaks, on the way to Everest Basecamp. Good for pretty serious hikers looking to hike the world’s most famous mountain.
- Everest View and Lukla Trek – This 5 day trip allows a little more flexibility that gives travelers the chance to explore certain areas at their own leisure. You will also trek through the Nepal countryside and stay in lodges along the way. Better for those who like some action but don’t want to push it too much.
When to Go/Weather
Trekking in the mountains is never going to provide perfect weather, but there are times to visit Everest that are better than others. The most ideal times to hike in and around Everest in Nepal is the beginning of March to mid-May and the beginning of September to mid-November, though keep in mind that each time still provides its pros and cons.
The winters are obviously really cold, and though hiking is possible, many of the lodges are closed above a certain altitude due to snow. Summers aren’t much better as this is the rainy season and the peaks you came to see are often obscured by the clouds. April and May are better for seeing trees and bushes in full bloom and adding color to this rough looking landscape, but because of the dust from nearby India, mountains may be obscured. The fall is better for mountain views as the monsoons have passed, but the days are shorter and the cold is starting to come.
How to Prepare
If you’re going to take the plunge and do a serious 7-10 day trek to a place like Everest Basecamp, you better come prepared. Trekking in the Himalayas is not to be taken lightly, and coming unprepared will most likely mean a rough time on the trail. I’m certainly not trying to scare you, and you definitely don’t need to be a hard core hiker or climber to reach Everest Basecamp. There are plenty of people each year who complete this hike and don’t live in the mountains year-round.
It is important to be fit and in shape, though. Simply hiking is always the best way to prepare. Even if you don’t live near mountains, chances are you can find a few trails somewhere near your area that at the very least offer you some hills. Will this prepare you for the altitude and mountainous terrain? Of course not, but nothing will unless you already live in a mountainous region, which most of us don’t. Get out and run, lift weights, eat well, and just get yourself as fit as you possibly can. Go ahead and pack your backpack full of weight and take that on any hike or walk you do. Sure, you may look like a dork, but you won’t care once you’re in the Himalayas and used to walking around with an extra 30+ pounds on your back.
What to Pack
Speaking of packing, it’s also important to be prepared when it comes to what you bring. One of the best things about hiking to Everest Basecamp, or hiking in Nepal in general, is that there is often no need to lug a tent with you. There are villages all the way up to Gorak Shep, your base for visiting Everest Basecamp, and in each village there are lodges for hikers to stay. This means that it’s often unnecessary to bring a tent or food and water for a 10 day trek like in other parts of the world. You can re-up on food and water in each village, and most have restaurants. Some even have internet cafes!
Most hikes to Everest Basecamp are at least 9-10 days, but that doesn’t mean you need 9 or 10 different outfits for each day. When it comes to clothing, it’s really only necessary to bring a couple outfits with plenty of layers. Lightweight, moisture wicking clothing is best rather than bringing cotton. It’s also important to make sure you don’t go cheap on your socks and hiking boots/shoes. Blisters while on a week+ long trek can be miserable and completely ruin your hike. Make sure you bring a separate outfit for nighttime when you aren’t hiking, with comfy shoes to change into as well.
Hiking in the mountains is an odd thing as the weather can change at any moment. You’ll be shedding and adding layers by the hour most days on the trail. Make sure to bring some rain gear as it will most likely rain at some point, no matter what time of year you decide to come. A good rain jacket and even a poncho are nice. Gloves, a scarf, a warm hat, and a sun hat are also great to have in the mountains.
Because of the amount of villages along the way, a tent is all but unnecessary if you don’t want to lug one around. You may want to bring a light sleeping bag to make sure you’re warm enough at night, but lodges usually provide blankets (the cleanliness and smell of said blankets is questionable, though). In addition to a sleeping bag, it’s also necessary to bring a first aid kit (with the basics like band-aids, gauze, something like moleskin to prevent and treat blisters, a small knife, an ace bandage, medical tape, etc.). Some sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, and a head lamp are also great to have with you on the trail.