After completing my Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal, I have been asked a few questions by friends and through email sometimes. So I decided to make a post of FAQs. That way I can refer to this page for some questions at least.
Q1. How should I prepare for the trek?
This is my personal take but I feel it is better to be fit than just turn up. Having said that I didn’t had much time myself but I just walked for 45 minutes every day for two months. But I have trekked previously and used to be pretty active in sports up to a point in my life.
Q2. I am 30, 40, 50, 60 whatever, am I too old to do this trek?
I don’t think so. I saw people well into their 60s doing it and walking much better than me! And remember the oldest lady to climb Everest was 73 when she did it.
Q3. Should I do this as a first trek?
This was not my first trek. However I met people who did this successfully as a first trek. I personally feel do an easier one first and see if you enjoy it.
Q4. Did you use Diamox?
Personally no, I have never used Diamox on any of my treks. So I can’t really comment on this one.
Q5. Will I get Acute Mountain Sickness?
I have been lucky, I never got it. I have been thoroughly uncomfortable but I never had AMS. If I get it I will surely head down and not risk my health. At Gorek Shep I had head ache and I would wake up every 15 minutes at night because I would get breathless. But nothing worse than that.
By going slowly and taking plenty of fluids you increase your chances of not getting it. But then seek a doctor. I am not a professional to say anything beyond what is common wisdom.
Q6. Can I trek as a solo women?
When I say solo I mean me with a guide. I did and I never faced any problems. Only my fellow Indian trekkers would be a little surprised. But I went with an agency rather than picking up a guide randomly at Lukla. Recently Nepal government has been thinking of making it compulsory to trek with a guide or porter.
Q7. Can I drink the water locals drink?
I used chlorine tablets and used the same water as locals do. However bottled water is available throughout but the prices keep going up as we go higher.
Q8. Can I charge my gadgets?
Yes you can after paying extra to the lodge owner. The price goes up as we keep going higher.
Q9. What are the tea houses like?
The ones that I stayed at were basic but clean. Up to Namche Bazaar I had attached bathrooms. After that I used shared bathrooms. The food was good and people friendly.
Q 10. What about hot water?
You get it if you pay extra and you know by now, the prices increase as you go up!
Q11. Will my flight take off from Lukla?
No one wants to get stranded after getting back from the trek but Lukla flights are weather prone. They will not take off if the weather is bad. I was lucky I was not stuck but I know someone who was for 4 days.
Q12. What if I do not want to fly in to Lukla.
The nearest road head is Jiri which is roughly 8 days of trek from Lukla one way.
Q13. Will I see Everest from Base Camp?
No the base camp is too near to give you a view. However you can see the top of the Everest from Namche and when you are walking to the base camp. The best views are from Kala Patthar. The sun rises over the Everest so the best light over the peak is in the evening. But in the evenings many a times clouds will rule.
Q14. Is the view from Gokiyo Ri better?
I have not been to Gokiyo Ri but my guide has trekked to both the places and he says the views are very similar.
Q15. Can I buy a Sim Card in Nepal and will it work on the trek?
I used a Ncell sim which I could buy after showing my passport and giving a passport size photograph. It worked at most places except for Dingboche and Lobuje. It worked from the Base Camp itself. I didn’t try calling anyone from Kala Patthar as I was there at 5.00 am and anyone I would have called would have cursed me for waking them up!
Q16. What type of medical insurance should I take?
Take a better one than I had. Mine didn’t had air rescue. Make sure your’s covers helicopter evacuation.
Q17. How cold will it be?
I trekked in May 2012 and it was quite bearable. I would trek in a T-shirt most of the time. One day it was cold and I used fleece while walking too. I used a down jacket at night. But I get cold easily.
Q18. Do I carry a sleeping bag even though it is a tea house trek?
I did and I was happy for it. Only on one occasion I didn’t find the linen clean and I was happy to use by sleeping bag. After that at every stop I would use it. But I had a guide cum porter so weight was not that big a concern. That doesn’t mean my bag was heavy. My guide said my rucksack was lighter than his own!
Q19. Which trekking agency I go with?
I went with Above the Himalayas and they were recommended to me by an online travel forum called Indiamike. The cost of the trek will vary by the level of comforts you want. For example I stayed in a guest house instead of a 3 star hotel at Kathmandu. But there are many trekking agencies in Kathmandu.
Q20. Will you do it again?
I will certainly go back to Nepal but there are other treks to do. But I hope one day I will go back with my daughter if she wants to do it!
If I have missed out on something you would like to know, do drop me a line and I will try to answer that as well.
Please use these guidelines with caution. These are my personal experiences and I am no expert. More so if you need any medical advice please seek it from a qualified doctor.
And this time my excuse is the account of the Everest Base Camp Trek that has appeared at Gonomad. It is ideal for those who thought my day to day accounts were just a bit too long to read.
Here is a short quote from the article-
Gradually after the rest I stumbled across Tengboche and to my lodge. It took me six and a half hours to cover the distance while Diana took three and a half! I hardly take any notes on the road but on this day I wrote on a paper, “If I had an internet connection I would tweet- beat me up with a stick if I talk about trekking ever again.”
And if you want more on EBC here is an account of the trek done in 1978 complete with pictures.
I decided to put all the links to my day by day account of the Everest Base Camp Trek in one post. It is easy to access them from here and easy to point it out to anyone who is interested in reading it all!
Many thanks to all of you who read my accounts and a little more to those who shared their thoughts in the comment section or in person. This has been a journey of a life time! I had so many doubts in the beginning but in the end I was able to haul myself all the way up their and get down too! They say in the mountains, it is the mountain that decides whether you can complete a trek or not. I am glad they decided in my favor this time. So here are the links to the detailed day by day account of the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal.
At breakfast at Lobuje we were comparing notes and it looked like I was the only person who could sleep decently, my head ache was gone by now and I was really thankful for that. Today after all was the day when we were headed to Gorek Shep (5164 meters, 16942 feet) and the Everest Base Camp (5364 meters, 17598 feet)! Deepak was showing me the places on a map the previous night and Groek Shep didn’t look far away! Even though Base Camp did look far away at least the height gain was not much, that meant it would be flatter to walk. But at these elevations anything felt tough.
We started off from Lobuje at 7.00 am so that we could reach Gorek Shep early, dump our luggage, have lunch and set off for the base camp! On the way to Grek Shep I was this big fat mountain mouse, not too far away from me.
The journey to Gorek Shep was not too tough and soon I had a room again. This was one time when I did not flop on the bed after arriving but I went down to have a very early lunch and then head off to the base camp. I went to eat the soupy noodles once again with tea.
And soon it was time to go and try to reach the base camp. On some bends and curves Deepak pointed out the Base Camp in the far distance. The ice immediately ahead of it (part of Khumbu Icefall) didn’t look inviting at all. But it was still quite far away and just like dots in a distance.
On the way I met this one brave Alpine Accentor bird that was not camera shy, this has been taken by 18-55mm lens and then cropped. You can imagine how close it allowed me to come. I could see much more ice and snow around me but thankfully there was almost none on the trekking path.
And then there was the trinity of Lhotse (left) with just a hint of Everest (center and looks lower than Lhoste and Nuptse here) and Nuptse (right). You know, before doing this trek when I would look at the pictures I used to think Nuptse was Everest because it looked the biggest. But as Nuptse is the closest to us on this route, hence it looks the tallest. And this is true from Kala Pathar too. I have not done it but I am told you get a similar view from Gokiyo Ri as well.
It is not that I was not tired while walking on this day, it was probably the excitement that made it bearable. Still, I remember I would count how many steps I could take before I would stop panting. It was usually 30 small steps before I would come to a grinding halt gasping for breath! There was a point where small stones were falling from above, Deepak and I rushed through that area. I met a group of men who looked Indian and we chatted a bit in Hindi too, they also found the going a bit slow. Then they told me they were from South Africa, surely they were of Indian origin.
Thus taking small steps and gasping for breath I finally reached there, I was at the Everest Base Camp. I cannot describe the feeling in words and I will not even try. I think my tears got mixed in my sweat but thankfully no one saw me making a fool of myself, I recovered quite soon though. And then there were celebrations from every quarter.
I saw a young man getting his picture clicked with a sign which said, “With a little help from my friends.” I met Diana and Gokarna there and here is our picture.
I was there, after all the doubts and tiredness and what not, I did manage to haul myself all the way up there! Sometimes I have been asked it I felt accomplished or did I feel like conquering it. I will be honest, I never did, I felt I just managed to stumble across the last stone and stand there stunned for a while. Also, in the mountains they say it is the mountain that decides whether you can complete a trek or not, I was glad they decided in my favor.
Below me was the base camp and how I wished I could go down but we were told not to go beyond the milestone and I didn’t wish to interfere.
There were shouts of joy all around but Deepak and I decided to descend after a while, it was quite cold and wind was very strong and also we had to walk all of that way once again to reach back to Gorek Shep. I think I did the walk in a daze, I don’t remember much of it. Finally, I could see Gorek Shep once again.
At the lodge, over tea, Deepak and I were discussing Kala Pathar. Deepak said the sunrise was around 5.00 am so we should start at 2.45 am for Kala Pathar. It felt so early, gradually we negotiated 3.15 as our start time. I asked him, “What if I cannot climb up all the way?” He assured me there were views to be seen from the mid way too and we would stop whenever I wanted. With that assurance I ordered Potato Wedges (more like thick French fries) for dinner. I could finish four wedges before I decided I could eat no more. The only comfort was that others around me were also chasing their food across the plate. By the time I was heading for bed, I caught a glimpse of this from my bedroom window, it was a beautiful end to a very tiring but memorable day.
It was the night that was another matter! While twisting and turning and waiting for sleep to come, I realized how thin the walls separating the rooms were. If the person twisting and turning on the other side would hit their elbow on the wall, the reverberation would go through my head. I would fall asleep in fits and starts and then wake with with a gasp completely disoriented in a dark room on the verge of panic. After 4 or 5 times I decided to switch on the room light so that I would at least know where I was when I woke up. I would not even like to talk about my head ache but I knew this was the last night at such a height and from tomorrow I would always be sleeping at a lower height. I think I fell asleep for 2-3 hours and I am thankful for that. I was quite awake by 2.00 am and by 2.30 I decided to get out of the bed too. I was out at 3.14 waiting for Deepak with my torch to start the climb to Kala Pathar.
You can read the account of the other days of the Everest Base Camp Trek too-