Trekking in Nepal

Everest Base Camp

It's hard to resist the temptation to stand in the footsteps of Hillary and Norgay and the dozens of other famed mountaineers who have followed Mallory's call, "Because it's there." At just under 17,000 feet, Everest's base camp is higher than anything in the coterminous United States. You can even climb a baby Himalayan peak of your own while you're at it: Kala Pattar, at "only" 18,450 feet, is a short side-trip from Everest base camp, and offers fine views of the surrounding high peaks.

Most trekkers start their trek at Jiri, where the road ends. The first few days of the trek aren't the most scenic, and they feature some rough going. The Everest trek cuts across the lay of the land, which means that instead of following long river valleys (which is what the Annapurna Circuit does), you hit the ridges and valleys cross-wise. So expect to climb and descend, sometimes very steeply.

Another alternative is to fly into the STOL (or "Short take off and landing" there is a canyon on one side of the "runway" and a mountain on the other) airstrip at Lukla, which cuts a week off the walk. But Lukla has its own problems. Flights are frequently canceled due to weather ("We don't fly in clouds because here, the clouds have mountains inside them," one pilot said). The extra few days of trekking also give hikers the chance to acclimate, which is extremely important given the elevations ahead.

Namche Bazaar, two days from Lukla, is the center of the Solu Khumbu region, home of the Sherpa people. With lots of facilities including even a bank it's a good place to take a rest day to acclimatize and gather your strength for the five day push to Everest itself. On the return, most people fly back from Lukla. Of course, the planes have to be running. Give yourself an extra couple of days just in case bad weather wreaks havoc with the plane schedules.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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