Tips and Advice for Trekking to the Base of Mount Everest
Over the years The Mountain Company has arranged walking holidays for more than 500 people trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. We are a specialist operator organising Himalayan treks in Nepal, Bhutan, India and Pakistan. In 2018 we won AITO Tour Operator of the Year based on our client’s feedback. Our Managing Director, Roland Hunter, has climbed to the summits of Mount Everest and Mount Makalu.
We have organised several high profile events in the Everest region. In 2019 we worked with Peter Hillary and Robert Anderson on Everest Base Camp in Hillary’s Footsteps (you can watch the video at bottom of this page). In 2010 and 2007 we helped Love Hope Strength Foundation with their Everest Rocks events.
Everest Base Camp is a lodge based trek where you stay in a Nepalese teahouse for every night of the trek. There is also an option to upgrade to luxury lodges. We have fixed date departures for both Everest Base Camp and Luxury Everest Base Camp treks. By following our advice virtually all of our Everest trekkers have succeeded with their objective of walking to Everest Base Camp. You can read our client's feedback on AITO Traveller's Review for Everest Base Camp and AITO Traveller's Review for Luxury Everest Base Camp. From our first hand experience we have listed our Seven Tips to increase your chances of reaching Everest Base Camp below....
1. Join a longer Everest Base Camp trek itinerary.
You must have enough trekking days in your itinerary for the necessary acclimatisation to high altitude. Remember you are ascending to the summit of Kalapatar at 5,545m where there is only about half of the partial pressure of oxygen compared to sea level. Almost everyone can acclimatise to high altitude although you need to ascend slowly. This allows time for your body to adapt to the lower amount of oxygen available.Following an itinerary that is too short is the main reason for trekkers turning back before getting to Everest Base Camp. Be careful as there are trekking operators out there with short treks for purely commercial reasons to sell more holidays. Our Everest Base Camp itinerary has fourteen trekking days and in total nineteen days from arrival in Kathmandu. If you trek with fewer days then this may put you at risk of getting severe altitude sickness.
2. Walk at a slow pace.
You will hear your Sherpa guides telling the group to walk “bistari", in Nepalese this means slowly. You must slow your walking pace right down compared to your normal speed back home. If you are out of breath you are hiking too fast. You need to walk at a steady pace throughout the entire duration of the trek. You should arrive at the lodge each afternoon not feeling too tired. It is best to keep your energy and reserves for the longer, more challenging days at higher altitude.
3. Build your fitness level before departure.
You will not regret getting in shape before starting your Himalayan hiking holiday. This will increase your chances of reaching Everest Base Camp and enjoying the trek too. You do not need to be super fit for an Everest trek and this is an achievable goal for most people as long as you follow our advice.
After booking a walking holiday with us we will send our Training and Fitness Guide. Our guidance is to do aerobic exercise at least three times per week. This could be visiting the gym, running or swimming or working out at home. If your schedule does not allow for this then try to add more walking to your daily routine. You will notice that small amounts of exercise on a regular basis is the best way of increasing your fitness level.
The best training for Himalayan trekking is to go hill walking at home before departure. We recommend that you make an effort to get away for walking weekends before flying to Kathmandu. You will find that hiking for two days in a row is a good way of simulating the trekking experience.
4. Keep well hydrated.
You must drink fluids throughout the day and night to stay hydrated. Being well hydrated aids the acclimatisation process. Lower down it can be quite warm where you are likely to sweat walking up the hills. At higher elevations you will have a higher breathing rate even when at rest so you lose more moisture especially as the air is cold and dry. Our advice is to drink at least one litre of water during the night from going to bed to before breakfast. When you go for a pee your urine should be clear and copious, if not then drink more fluids!
We recommend you carry two Nalgene bottles (each with one litre capacity) in your day pack. You should also make sure to drink more fluids at meal times. It is a good idea to add electrolytes to your water. We like the tablets from Science In Sport as these are zero calorie so do not have a sugary taste.
5. Be careful what you eat and drink in Kathmandu.
Travelling in Nepal carries a risk of picking up a bug that could lead to travellers' diarrhoea. You can reduce this risk by eating at good quality tourist standard restaurants in Kathmandu. You should only drink bottled water. Do not drink water direct from the tap and remember this even for brushing your teeth. It is also a good idea to bring hand sanitiser with you.
If you end up getting travellers' diarrhoea then you should take medicine as early as possible. This is especially important if you are at a high altitude as your body’s resistance level is lower due to the lack of oxygen. Oral rehydration salts (eg diarolyte) are also worth taking as these replace electrolytes lost.
It is important to eat enough food while trekking for nutritional reasons. When on a high altitude trek you will be burning a lot of calories throughout the day and night. Have a good look at the menu at the teahouse lodge as the food options are standard throughout the trek. Find some dishes that you enjoy eating and do your best to finish your plate. You can supplement the main meals by bringing snacks in your day pack. This helps to maintain your level of energy throughout the day and give you a boost when needed.
6. Choose the best months for a trek to Everest Base Camp.
The best months for trekking to Everest Base Camp are April, May, October, November and December. It is possible to trek in September although there is a risk of cloudy weather and precipitation if there is a late withdrawal of the monsoon. March can also be a good time yet it will be colder and some years there will be winter snows still on the ground higher up. For a detailed discussion on weather and conditions read our Blog article: When is the Best Time to go Trekking in Nepal? It would also worth reading our Blog article: How Busy is the Trek to Everest Base Camp?
7. Having the right personal equipment for a high altitude trek.
It is very important for your safety to have the right gear to keep you warm and dry for a high altitude trek. You need to carry this equipment with you in a day pack as the weather can change fast in the mountains. You should also pack items for use in the teahouse lodge to keep you warm in the afternoons and evenings such as a down jacket and a sleeping bag.
The weather varies season to season and day to day as you ascend to higher elevations. At the start of the trek you will experience warm conditions with temperatures up to 20 Celsius. You experience the coldest temperatures in Gorak Shep at an altitude of 5,200m. Overnight lows here will be down to around -15 Celsius. We have tailored kit lists for each of our treks. You can view under the Practical Information tab on our Everest Base Camp web page.
Good luck with your Himalayan trek and do enjoy the impressive mountain views along the way. By following our Seven Tips you have a very good chance of a fun and successful trek to Everest Base Camp. Hiking to the Base of the highest mountain in the world should be an incredible experience. Our advice applies for any high altitude trek such as Annapurna Base Camp and Half Annapurna Circuit. Always remember to walk slowly (bistari)....
Please get in touch with us if you would like further information about our walking holidays in the Himalaya and Karakoram. Trek on!