Jess Buchan

Congratulations! You’ve decided to hike to the base of the highest mountain in the world. Now what, you may be asking? Below are a few tips that will hopefully help you get to Base Camp!

Go slow and listen to your body

If there's only one piece of advice that you absorb from this blog, let it be this one. Hiking to Base Camp isn't just about being physically fit. You need to be mentally fit as well. Hiking in high altitudes isn't easy and it doesn't matter how fit you are, altitude sickness can affect anybody. Go steady, drink lots of water (1 gallon per day) and listen to your body. Climbing Everest isn't a race and altitude will tell you that pretty quickly. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

BYO snacks - Lots of them

It goes without saying that supplies are difficult to get on the trail. If you buy a Snickers Bar in Gorak Shep, the last village before Base Camp, you can guarantee it’s had almost the same journey as you to get there. Hence, everything is a little more expensive on the Base Camp trail. A large bottle of water can cost up to 350 rupees (about USD$3.50) which is astronomical compared to 25 rupees back in Kathmandu! Fit as many muesli bars (or Snickers bar because lets be honest, you deserve it) as your 22 lbs luggage will allow you and opt for water purifying tablets over buying bottles. Environmentally and economically friendly!

snickers on mt everest

Bring only what you need

In light of the above point, pack only the essentials. To fly to Lukla – the starting point of the trek, you’re only allowed 22 lbs in hold luggage and 10 lbs as carry on. It might seem like a lot but once you add up clothes, toiletries, cameras and snacks your 22 lbs disappears quickly. Plus, the more you bring, the more you have to carry. Have a test pack before going to the airport so you don't have to leave things behind. One essential I recommend is a power bank to charge your camera/phone – the high altitude sucks up the battery very quickly!

Donkeys carrying goods between villages

Prepare to smell

Showers are a rare and not always hot commodity along the trail. Tea houses and lodges will offer them but they come at a price and aren't always reliable. Instead embrace the smelliness and pack a serious amount of baby wipes and hand sanitiser. Chances are, everyone else is going to smell so you may as well get used to it. The same goes for toilet paper, always bring your own!

Take all the photos you can, but respect the mountains

As the saying goes ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’. With Mt Everest once being described as the world’s highest rubbish dump, there has been an overhaul by the Nepalese government to clean her up. At the start of every climbing season, a huge clean up is held which is so intensive it requires helicopters. Sherpas bring down rubbish and are paid by the pound. Locals believe that Mt Everest is the Mother Goddess of the world so do your part, respect the mountain and dispose responsibly.

Sherpa’s on bridge

Get quality equipment that has been used before

This might seem like an obvious piece of advice but it was surprising how many people don't swear by it. Good quality hiking boots are essential but useless if you haven't broken them in. There's nothing worse than blisters if you’re hiking for 5-6 hours per day. Do some of your training in your hiking shoes and your feet will love you. It goes the same for other equipment. Use a backpack that you feel comfy carrying and wear clothes you’re happy to spend a week in – because that's what you’ll be doing!

Don’t be afraid of going in low season

I booked my Base Camp trek before consulting the weather map. It wasn’t until I checked after that I realised I had booked to go in monsoon season. Worried that my trip was going to be swept away in a torrential downpour, I didn’t make any further plans in case of disruptions. What I hadn't considered was that going in monsoon season meant that there were hardly any other hikers on the trail which made it feel like we were discovering it for the first time. It rained one night on my trek and the rest of the time was beautiful, clear skies. In peak season the trail jams up with people and tea houses can be completely booked up. Don’t be afraid to book out of season and enjoy the trail for yourself!

icefall on everest

Disconnect from technology and reconnect to nature

There was a surprising amount of WiFi available along the trail. Even at Gorak Shep, you could access the Internet however it came at a rather large cost. For 600MB you would pay up to USD$6.50. Though who’s hiking to 17,000+ ft above sea level to check their Facebook? If there’s ever a time to disconnect from the world, hiking to Base Camp is it. With up to 10 days high in the Himalayans, surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in the world, why would you want to be staring at a tiny screen? In saying this, pack other forms of entertainment such as playing cards or books. There can be quite a lot of downtime in the afternoon if you reach your nightly accomodation early. We had UNO tournaments most nights which was not only entertaining but a great way to get to know members of your group better.

Mt Everest

Above all, have fun! Most people will never get the opportunity to hike so high in the Himalayas so take every day as it comes and enjoy the view – it’s worth it!

 

Jess Buchan is an Aussie travel blogger who has lived in Europe and loves to share her travel stories on her blog, Instagram @ablondeandherpassport and Twitter @ablondeandher.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.