Why Would Anyone Want to Trek to Everest Base Camp?
A few years ago, someone turned me on to reading Jon Krakauer’s books. It started with Into Thin Air, then to Into the Wild, and finally onto Under the Banner of Heaven. I enjoyed Krakauer’s style of writing – he has a very subtle way of giving his opinion on the story without being too opinionated. But more than that, the story of Into Thin Air led me on a path of interest on climbing mountains in Nepal.
I went on to read other books about Mount Everest, K2, and mountaineering in general. I’m not quite badass enough to think that I could ever do nearly what some of those expeditioners do/did, but I found it completely fascinating what they were/are able to accomplish. I developed a profound interest in and appreciation for not only the climbers, but also the mountains themselves.
Sherpa are generally extremely religious, and they believe that numerous deities and demons inhabit the mountains around them. Prayer flags are often found strung through the mountain towns and peaks in the Himalayas and are used to bless the surrounding areas. When disaster strikes on a mountain, the local community members believe that it is because the mountains are unhappy. With the incident in 2014 that claimed the lives of 16 Nepalese guides, most Sherpas refused to climb and luckily most of the climbing community supported their decision and canceled their expeditions. I have a friend from The Southern Terrain who was en route to Nepal when the avalanche happened, and decided to cancel his trek once he got there. Regardless of the money and training involved, in the end it comes down to a respect for the culture, and for nature.
Booking Our Trek to Everest Base Camp with Apex the Asia Holidays
All that being said, Everest Base Camp has been high on my list of places to visit ever since. A few months ago I saw a deal on TheClymb.com that seemed too good to pass up. I posted it on facebook, sent it off to a few friends and asked “who’s in???!?!” To my surprise, I had 2 friends commit almost immediately. I wasn’t quite convinced yet that they would really come, but happy that they were both interested because this was it…I wanted to go! (Disclaimer – there’s a potential 4th who is interested in joining but has been struggling to commit…no pressure! It’s only a once in a lifetime experience…no big deal.)
I mentioned the deal to someone I know who did the trek about a year ago with his wife and he convinced me to instead approach the guide they had used rather than going with this new company. I always prefer going with personal recommendations, and when he told me that Gyanu made a point to be in the kitchen all along the way as their food was being prepared…I was pretty sold. Gyanu agreed to match the deal we had found, and we had a deal. We decided to go in March – February 26-March 14, to be exact – and wired him our deposit and passport photos.
So, great – it’s on!
A Sprained Ankle Should Not Be Part of Your Training
Then, in true Rachel fashion…I rolled my ankle pretty bad at our Friendsgiving adventure in Yosemite. Before that, I was all ready to start my cardio training so that I hopefully struggle a little less up at altitude, and now I have to stay off my foot. Unfortunately, those who know me know that I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to things like this, but I’m trying to be smart about it. I figure I’ll give myself a week or two to let the swelling go down and let the tendons heal up a bit, and then I need to jump in full swing. I am not a lover of running, but cycling should do the job. Each weekend in January and February I need to do one long ride, and then I’ll need to supplement that with a few stationary bike rides during the week (can’t the sun stay up till 9 all year round?), along with my normal weight training routine (and hopefully some awesome snowboarding, for the altitude training, of course).
The nice part is that we’ll have porters to help carry our things. I had a friend at dinner last night tell me I was “cheating” by having a porter, until I explained how intense climbing at elevation is. We’ll be out on the trek for 12 days – 6 there, 6 back. We start in Lukla at around 9,383 ft (2,860 m) and trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,598 ft (5,364 m), essentially doubling our altitude in just 6 days. I’ve had my share of trekking between 10k-15k feet and every 500 feet you gain makes a huge difference. If we were able to extend our trip (unfortunately we have limited vacation time…jobs always get in the way), we could give ourselves enough time to properly acclimatize so that carrying our own gear would be a more viable option, but with 6 days I believe it will be much more prudent to leave that to the professionals to take some of the strain off those of us not born at elevation.
Check out this video of a plane landing at the Lukla airport – one of the most dangerous airports! (Grandma, close your eyes…)
The weather should be similar to what we just had in Yosemite – mid 50’s during the day, 30’s at night (Fahrenheit). We’ll be staying in tea houses along the way, which are very basic accommodations but provide a shelter and meals. When I told my grandfather about our trip, his reaction was “Rachel, do you realize these places are barely 1 star accommodations??” to which I replied “Do you know how often I sleep on the ground in the woods, by choice?”
I don’t doubt that this will probably be one of the toughest treks I ever do, but I’m pretty mentally prepared for it. We’ll probably move fairly slow, and take lots of breaks (mostly for the pictures, of course). We’ll stink and wear dirty clothing most of the time, and after all the noodles we’ll probably eat, I’ll be very ready for a salad by the time I get home. Between the 3 (4?) of us, I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about, and then lots of quiet time to reflect as we move along. I’m sure I’ll get extremely frustrated at times, and then I’ll feel extremely empowered and thankful at other times. But in the end, I know that this is going to be a once in a lifetime experiences that will probably change a part of me forever.
Less than 3 months to go…Mount Everest, here I come…
“It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary