Mt. Everest is the world's tallest mountain, straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet. More than 10,000 feet below the summit lies Everest Base Camp, the site of expedition drama, triumph and tragedy. Trekkers who make the long hike to Everest Base Camp are rewarded with the overwhelming sense of greatness and grandeur of expeditions past and present.
Things You'll Need
- Expedition backpack
- Hiking boots
- Warm clothing
- Warm sleeping bag
Bring proper gear. A well-fitting backpack and broken-in hiking boots will make all the difference on the Everest Base Camp trek. Buy a backpack that is suited to your frame and the amount of weight you will carry, and be sure to wear your hiking boots for at least 20 miles before starting the trek. An ill-fitting backpack and blistered feet make for a miserable trek.
Prepare in Kathmandu. Rest. Get over jet lag. Network with other solo trekkers for tips. Solo trekkers will need to purchase a Sagarmatha National Park pass in Kathmandu at the park office at the edge of Thamel. Ask your hotel staff for directions. Buy any last-minute supplies in Kathmandu's many trekking stores, and watch out for fake brand name gear. Enjoy the multitude of good restaurants, because trekking food will get less appetizing as you ascend.
Bring sufficient cash. Most lodges on the trek will not accept credit or debit cards, so you will need to bring enough cash for the entire trip. There are no ATMs, so bring extra just in case. Ask your hotel staff and returning trekkers for updated prices.
Buy a guidebook and maps. The trails to Everest Base Camp are easy to follow, but a good guidebook will prepare you for each day's trek and give you the recommended trekking schedule. A map is good to have on hand in case you get lost or simply want to identify nearby peaks.
Pack light. Remember that you will be carrying your own gear to an elevation of over 17,000 feet. The higher the altitude, the heavier your pack will feel. Resist the temptation to bring extra changes of clothing, as you will likely wear the same outfit for the entire trek. (Don't worry, other trekkers will be doing the same thing.) Above Namche Bazaar, there are no showers available, so leave the soap behind. You can store extra belongings at your hotel in Kathmandu or in Namche Bazaar on the trek.
Be an early riser. During peak trekking season, the Everest region of the Himalayas sees more than 9,000 visitors. There is considerable competition for lodging each day, and since you will not have a guide or porter to send ahead for rooms, you should start early each day. By beginning early in the morning, you have the afternoon free to explore a new village.
Hydrate. To stay healthy at high altitudes, drink at least two liters of water per day. Bring iodine or chlorine tablets to purify stream water so you can use your own water bottles.
Don't ignore rest days. They're there for a reason. As you climb higher, your body needs rest days to acclimatize to the altitude. Remember, the schedule is a guide, so move at your own pace. If you feel unhealthy or exceptionally tired, take an extra rest day. A healthy, well-rested body is the best thing you can bring to high altitudes.
Watch for signs of altitude sickness. The effects of high altitude often strike trekkers en route to the Everest Base Camp. Go slowly, and watch out for symptoms of AMS, or acute mountain sickness. Research signs and symptoms, and descend immediately if they become severe.
Sleep with batteries. At high altitudes, camera and headlamp batteries can lose their charge. Keep them close to your body at all times and bring extras to be sure that you capture the stunning Everest views.
When in doubt, ask a Sherpa. The Sherpas are remarkably friendly, accommodating people. If you have a question about the trail ahead, ask a passing porter or yak herder. If you can, stop for a conversation for a greater insight into the people of the Everest region.
Trek with caution. Solo trekkers should exercise special caution when hiking alone. Watch your footing on steep, rocky trails, and stick to the inside when passing yak trains. Bring a basic first aid kit for emergencies, and be cautious at all times. The Everest Base Camp trek is an amazing, rewarding experience; take care, and get there in one piece!