At the southern foot of the biggest and most iconic mountain in the world lies a sprinkling of colourful tents and Tibetan prayer flags: Base Camp. Two short, sweet syllables that mean so much to every budding mountaineer. But why?
Here’s the reality. Most of us are never getting right to the top of Everest, no matter how much we love our mountains.
Aside from the fact that it costs a heck of a lot of money to make it to the summit, you need loads of experience climbing all sorts of mountains if you want to do it successfully.
By setting your sights on Everest Base Camp instead, you can still revel in Everest’s awesome heights, just from below, and experience a more accessible, incredible mountain trek. But don’t let that fool you into thinking a Base Camp trek is a walk in the park.
Unless you mean Jurassic Park.
Funnily enough, there aren’t any terrifying T-Rexes still roaming around up there, but global warming hasn’t put paid to the cold, cold nights just yet. But what else will you have to grapple with on a trek to Base Camp?
How tough is the terrain?
Hear “Everest” and you’re probably thinking of a gruelling climb with crampons, ropes and the whole shebang. But that’s the beauty of tacking on those two little syllables and going to Base Camp instead of the summit.
Because – surprise! – there’s no technical climbing required at all to make it to Base Camp. Think of it more like a long hike (like really long) and you’re getting closer to what this trek’s all about.
The trek takes around 12 days at just over 90km. Winding through the Khumbu Valley from Lukla all the way to Base Camp. The terrain? Well-trodden, along defined, rocky paths until you get to the final section of glacial moraine. This is covered in crushed rocks so you won’t need any crampons or other technical equipment.
How fit should I be to Trek Everest Base Camp?
It’s great news on the fitness front for anyone who’s still carrying a little extra lockdown-weight. You don’t need to be that fit to get to Base Camp.
You don’t have to worry about caring your big, heavy bags as they will be carried upwards by the porters; a massive weight off your shoulders from the get-go.
The pace of the trek is pretty slow and the itinerary gives you a chance to acclimatise as you go. With no need to rush and only fairly short distances to cover each day. You shouldn’t find the physical challenge too taxing if you’ve got a decent basic level of fitness.
Really, it’s all about the mind on a Base Camp trek. If you’ve got it together up there, and you’re determined enough to see the trek through, you should be just fine. Take your time over the steep bits and make the most of the regular breaks to avoid burning out.
How high will I go on the trek?
Well I’m glad you asked, because altitude is always going to be your biggest challenge on a trek like this. You’ll set out from Lukla at 2860m above sea level and keep heading upwards all the way to Base Camp, which sits at 5,364m. You’ll go even higher on the way back, at Kala Pathar which sits 5,554m above sea level.
These altitudes can make you really, really sick, and that’s why you need to take acclimatisation seriously. We’ll give you plenty of time to let your body get used to the dizzying heights, with two specific days set aside for acclimatising towards the beginning of the trek.
How hard should I train for Everest Base Camp?
As you’ve probably gathered, you don’t need to be a marathon runner or a champion weightlifterweight lifter to make it all the way to Base Camp. But should you spend the months running up to your trek in front of Netflix or baking banana bread? Not on your nelly; leave those lockdown larks behind and get out into the countryside!
The best preparation you can do for a trek to Everest Base Camp is to start walking regularly in the crisp winter air outside. Whip a heavy rucksack on your back and wrap up and you’ll replicate walking with weight through the cold as best you can.
And if you can be tempted to spend some time in the gym? Do some weights and don’t forget leg day! Jogging and swimming will do wonders for your aerobic fitness too.
With a bit of hill-walking practice and a decent pair of walking boots, you’ll make it to Base Camp for a dreamlike experience of the highest mountain on earth. Where else can you trek among giants along remote, rugged trails without months of training in advance? That’s just the magic of Base Camp.
You could even participate in one of our Training Weekends prior to your trek.