The most often asked question in considering an Everest Base Camp trek is how hard is it?
The question is a natural considering the top of Mt. Everest is over 29,000 feet, arguably the most challenging climb in the world. The good news is that Everest Base Camp or “EBC,” as it is commonly called, is 12,000 feet lower, an achievable goal for anyone who has trekked successfully with Tusker in the past.
Your Everest Base Camp trek will take you from 9,350 ft. at Lukla to EBC at 18,513 ft., the summit of Kala Pattar. EBC is at 17,585 and you will get there on Day 11. An added challenge/bonus is a four hour hike up to the summit of Kala Pattar on day 12. From this summit at 18,513 ft. you will have some of your best views of the Everest massif and lower peaks. The grind will be well worth your while.
Mel Kaida, Tusker’s veteran Asia guide, describes this as a hard trek because of frequent up and downs that requires consistent mental toughness. Even on the short acclimatization hikes where go up to go down it can be a grind.
Every day is hard and it’s not easy after you reach base camp. If you mentally tell yourself that you’re done after you’ve made it to base camp, the hike down will be tough,” Mel warns. “You need to be physically prepared for uneven terrain, rocky, angled trails that adds to fatigue especially for those who just work out in gyms, treadmills and ellipticals. Try to train outside at least once a week to let your muscles and feet get use to walking on uneven surfaces.”
You will spend 11 days in the backcountry, averaging five hours every day hiking around 130 kilometers up and down. EBC is not as difficult as Kilimanjaro that is over 19,000 feet, but EBC is far from easy. It requires your respect.
The major EBC difficulty like on many high altitude trek trips is your ability to adjust to high altitude. With five days spent over 15,000 feet you will need to pace yourself and listen to your trip leaders by taking it slow and properly hydrating and eating.
The chance to acclimatize is made easier by Tusker’s itinerary where two days are spent in Pheriche at the 14,200 foot level. This is where many trekkers’ altitude tolerance is tested and by spending two nights here it allows more time to properly acclimatize.
Delhi Belly syndrome
Another big challenge on EBC treks is Delhi Belly. Getting food poisoning in Nepal is common, but Tusker owners Eddie and Amy Frank have taken great pains to prevent it. Instead of having Tusker trekkers eat in the hotels along the trail to EBC, Tusker has a cooking crew that prepares all meals and purifies all drinking water to prevent the dreaded “Delhi Belly.” Thank Eddie and Amy Frank for your safe dietary passage to EBC because few other companies make this effort.
In the footsteps of mountain gods
Hiking to EBC is a chance to retrace Everest’s climbing history. You will trek in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, Tensing Norgay and Reinhold Messner. They made it to the top of Everest with personal tenacity and respect for the Himalayas. You can get to base camp where they slept, acclimatized and realized their summit dreams. It may be difficult but you’re up for the challenge to realize your own Himalayan dream.