Trekking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest

Gorp.com

The route to Mount Everest's Base Camp—a 15-day round-trip trek with a 10,000-foot altitude gain—delivers you to a physical and psychological crossroads: Sure, you've entered the realm of high-altitude climbing, but you'll still feel mighty small staring up at what remains of the world's tallest mountain (29,035 feet). Standing among the discarded supplies of those aiming for the summit, you won't feel too lonely, though. Second only to the Annapurna Circuit in popularity, the journey to Everest Base Camp, on the Nepalese side of the peak, draws adventurers from every corner of the world. The route will reward you with unparalleled views and the chance to retrace, completely or in part, the 1953 ascent of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

If you do care to follow in the footsteps of history towards Everest Base Camp, you'll find a well-marked and well-catered path—outfitted trips get booked up months in advance. Most Everest Base Camp pilgrims fly in to the Lukla airstrip and get acclimated at Namche Bazar—a thriving, trekker-friendly community and the biggest village in Sagarmatha National Park. You'll then head up the Imja Khola and Lobuche Khola valleys, enjoying cheerful, red-roofed Nepali towns and Buddhist temples along the way. After reaching the massive Khumbu Glacier and the Base Camp shelters (17,192 feet), make a final push up the steep trail to the rocky summit of 18,192-foot Kala Pattar. An unobstructed, 360-degree vista of the surrounding area awaits, including the breathtaking trinity of Nuptse (25,790 feet), Lhotse (27,940 feet), and, of course, Everest itself.

Weather in the world's highest mountain range is rather unpredictable. Spring is high season for trekking, but warmer weather can mean view-obscuring clouds; fall and winter trekkers enjoy better photo ops while braving chillier temperatures. When choosing your outfitter, opting for (English-speaking) Nepali guides can add to your experience and understanding of local culture. Most Base Camp-bound itineraries are the same, so look for creature comforts that you rank as important—breakfast ready when you wake, hot water for washing, and tents pitched when it's time to make camp. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and soak up the scenery. Of course, before you take on this high-altitude adventure, be sure you're physically prepared; the last thing you want on your epic journey toward Everest is a trek-ending bout of Acute Mountain Sickness, or worse....

Published: 31 May 2002 | Last Updated: 21 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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