So you’re planning a trip to Everest Base Camp. If you’re anything like me you probably don’t have much idea about what you’re letting yourself in for so I’ve put together this short post with my top tips and advice for your trip to BC.
Walking boots… Hands down your most important bit of kit. A pair of well-worn in walking boots is an absolute must as they can make or break your experience. My boots are the Berghaus Hill walker II and I wore them in for 9 months before my trek. For a full kit list of what I took for my base camp trip, check out my packing list.
To the left, to the left… Always pass the Stupa on the path to the left. You will pass hundreds of stupas and prayer wheels on the EBC trail. When passing you should always spin prayer wheels clockwise and pass stupas on the left as a sign of respect to the local Buddhist culture... If in doubt, think of Beyoncé (to the left, to the left).
Go Veggie. I went vegetarian for my entire trek as there isn’t any refrigeration and it’s hard to be sure of the freshness of foods as nearly all supplies are carried up to the remote villages by porters or Yaks which sometimes, can take days. This goes for dairy too. It worked for me; I had no sickness what so ever while I was in the mountains and most tea houses grow their own veg right on the door step. I can recommend the fried potatoes and veg with an egg or the veg Dhal Bhat is always a safe option.
Water purification. Carry a good supply of water purification tablets. Bottled water is available at all tea houses along the route to base camp but in an attempt to be more environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of litter left by trekkers (disgusting I know, but it happens). I used Chlorine Dioxide Tablets from Life Systems as they worked faster than other brands and they had no nasty after taste, you can buy them here.
Go Solar. You’re going to be in one of the most beautiful, awe inspiring destinations in the world so obviously you’ll be wanting to take tons of photos. Whether you use your phone, go pro or flashy DSLR camera, you can charge devices in the Tea houses along the route but the higher you go the more expensive this will be. To save on charging costs I carried a solar charger hooked on my backpack. I used an Innoo Tech 10000mAh but from my personal experience, the bigger the better. Try a 15000mAh charger which you can find on amazon for around £20-£30.
Yak Attack. Along the trail you will encounter hundreds of heavily loaded Yaks. As fluffy and photogenic as they look, they have bloody huge horns and a bad temper so get out of their way. When you hear the cow bells you know it’s time to get to the side of the trail and let them pass.
No booze on the ascent. I can’t tell you how tempting it was to grab a cold beer after a long days trekking but to help adjust to the altitude its best to leave the celebratory drinks for the descent. I did and it was sooooo worth it.
Diamox Dilemma. This is just my advice from my personal experience but I would recommend carrying and taking Diamox IF you feel you need it. A lot of trekkers I came across felt as though they were somehow cheating if they started taking Diamox to help with the symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). I started feeling the effects of altitude at 3850m, I was lethargic and I had so much pressure on my head it felt like it was going to pop. I took half a Diamox tablet morning and night for the next four days until I started to descend and it stopped all symptoms and let me enjoy my experience. Personally I had no bad side effects from taking Diamox besides tingles in my fingers but it can affect every person differently as can AMS. Obviously it’s totally up to you but AMS can be deadly so know the symptoms, know how to treat it and be prepared.
Money matters. A lot of people have contacted me and asked how much money I took with me for my time in the mountains. Obviously it depends on what’s included on your trek and tipping for the guides and porters will vary between group sizes and times of year. None of my food or drink was included on my trek so breakfast, lunch and dinner plus the occasional Wi-Fi card and phone charge I averaged between 2000Rs and 3000Rs (£15-£20) a day. For tips between a trekking group of 6 we all put in 13000Rs (£98) each at the end which totalled 10000Rs (£75) per porter x3, 15000Rs (£113) per assistant guide x2 and 18000Rs (£135) for our main guide. Another money related tip to consider is that you cannot buy Nepalese Rupees anywhere outside of Nepal. Instead you should travel to Nepal with American Dollars and use the money exchanges which are everywhere in the Thamel in Kathmandu so you won’t have trouble to change money once you are there.
And finally, my personal fave. One thing I have recommended to everyone attempting the base camp trek is to climb Kala Patthar in the evening to see the sunset on Everest. Obviously weather permitting, if you’re in a total white out snow storm you wouldn’t be able to climb but if you get a clear afternoon, go for it. Kala Patthar is a 5545m peak above Gorakshep and it takes around 2 hours to summit, it has the best view of Mt. Everest from the Nepalese side. What I saw that night was a once in a lifetime experience. Seeing “Everest on Fire” was hands down my absolute highlight of the whole trek! It was worth the bloody awful climb, worth the frozen fingers, worth the dancing on the spot like a lunatic to keep warm… Truly amazing and an absolute must see.