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Travel Inspiration Top 5 Differences Between Everest Base Camp and Everest Summit

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Top 5 Differences Between Everest Base Camp and Everest Summit

Ever wondered about the difference between Everest Base Camp and the summit of Everest?

Climbing Mount Everest and trekking to Everest Base Camp are about as similar as scuba diving and paddleboarding. The former, in both cases, requires the right equipment, training and support while the latter is achievable to most people with a little effort and the right mindset. Saying that, we thought it would be interesting to drill down into how exactly they differ.

Located in Nepal, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world at 8,849m high, placing it as one of the world’s 7 summits (the tallest mountains on each continent) and 14 peaks over 8,000m tall. At 5,364m, Everest Base Camp is located on the south side of Mount Everest and is one of the most popular trekking destinations in the Himalayas.

Embarking on an Everest adventure is a bucket list experience for many, but there is a humongous difference between trekking to the base of Everest and summiting this behemoth. Budding adventurers have a choice of route to Everest Base Camp, with some following a more scenic route, such as the Gokyo Lakes Everest Base Camp trek, while others summit nearby high peaks such as Mera Peak and Island Peak during their walk to Everest Base Camp. In fact, Kandoo are one of the few companies that actually take you into Base Camp as special permission is needed unless you are attempting a summit expedition.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the main differences between trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing to the summit of Mount Everest as well as what is needed to prepare for each.

Mount Everest, Nepal

1. Altitude

How High is Everest Base Camp?

There are officially two base camps on Mount Everest – one on the south side of the mountain in Nepal and one on the north side in Tibet, but the Everest Base Camp you will have heard of is the south base camp. Located on the south side of the mountain, Mount Everest Base Camp sits at 5,364m above sea level and trekking here is actually very achievable.

One of the main concerns trekkers have before booking one of our Everest Base Camp treks is acute mountain sickness (AMS), or altitude sickness, which can occur after reaching heights above 2,400m. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches and nausea, making it more difficult to climb as you get closer to base camp though Kandoo Adventure’s itineraries account for resting breaks to allow you plenty of time to acclimatise to the altitude and offering you the best possible chance of success.

If you are worried about the altitude at base camp or acute mountain sickness (AMS) read our guide on avoiding altitude sickness in Nepal.

How High is Mount Everest Summit?

Mount Everest is a mammoth 8,849m and this is considered the tallest point on Earth.

The upper reaches of the mountain are found in what is known in the mountaineering community as the “death zone” which is typically identified as the mountain terrain 8,000m above sea level. At these altitudes, oxygen levels are insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period of time and climbers are exposed to stronger UV radiation, freezing temperatures and extreme weather which pose other dangers.

Most climbers are not accustomed to the high altitude and low oxygen levels on Everest and rely on supplemental oxygen they bring along. Mountaineers who spend long periods in this region can develop several life-threatening illnesses including acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), though guides on Everest are trained to closely monitor the health of climbers and will take immediate action if needed.

2. Physical Requirements

How Hard is It to Climb to Everest Base Camp?

The Everest Base Camp trek has become one of the most popular hiking trails of all time, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year because it doesn’t qualify as a technical climb and requires no real mountaineering skills.

With this in mind, it’s still important to consider that the route is by no means for everyone. You’ll be trekking 5-6 hours and up to 1,500m of ascent each day on steep and rocky terrain in places, so it’s advised that you have a good level of fitness before embarking on the trek.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to be fit enough to carry your gear such as day rucksacks (no more than 5kg) and 2 litres of water each day. The porters will carry your main equipment from 10-15kg which will make the journey easier for you.

As well testing your physical fitness, the trek to Everest Base Camp will challenge your mental stamina. There may be days you feel like giving up which is why keeping a positive mindset is vital to pushing your body past what it thinks is its limit and reaching the end goal.

For more information on how to prepare your body for the trek read our post on training to trek Everest Base Camp as well as our helpful articles on training ideas of Everest Base Camp in the UK and training ideas for Everest Base Camp in the US.

How Hard is It to Climb Mount Everest?

In stark contrast, climbing Everest Summit is a very challenging endeavour that requires a high level of fitness, experience and determination. The climb is extremely demanding, and climbers need to be in excellent physical condition to handle challenges posed by the mountain.

For success on Everest, you need to have a high level of climbing fitness and aerobic capability and strength. You should start training at least 9-12 months in advance and it’s vital that your training closely simulates what you will be doing on the mountain. Traditional gym workouts or general fitness plans aren’t targeted enough. You need to emulate long physical days (10hrs+) in the mountains, back-to-back.


3. Technicality

Mount Everest Base Camp

As we touched on above, the trek to Everest Base Camp is not a technical climb and therefore requires no real mountaineering skills, a fact that makes it wonderfully achievable for many. While the route is both physically and mentally demanding, it is effectively a long trek at altitude and anyone with a good level of fitness and mental resilience can complete it.

Though you won’t need any special technical gear or equipment to trek to Everest Base Camp, you will need a reliable pair of walking boots with good ankle support, suitable trekking clothing and headgear and a comfortable waterproof backpack. If you book your Everest Base Camp trek with us and you decide to rent a sleeping bag, the team at Kandoo can help to organise this for you before your trek.

Check out our Nepal packing list for a detailed list of everything you need to trek Everest Base Camp.

Mount Everest Summit

While not considered the most technical of the 14 ‘eight thousanders’, you will encounter obstacles and interruptions that you probably haven’t faced before. Even the best planned expeditions encounter stumbling blocks, and the unpredictability of Everest can be difficult to anticipate. It’s not a challenge that should be taken lightly and even highly experienced climbers face serious challenges and risks when attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest due to its extreme altitude, unpredictable weather and treacherous terrain.

Before you consider embarking on a Mount Everest summit expedition, you must gain high altitude expedition experience and you must possess a solid technical mountaineering skillset, including familiarity with crampon and ice axe technique, glacier travel, fixed lines, self-arrest, crevasse rescue, camping in severe weather, knots, anchors and other rope work. In fact, Nepal climbing permit rules state that if you want to attempt the climb to the summit of Mount Everest, you must be an experienced mountaineer, have a certificate of physical fitness and have already climbed a Nepali peak of at least 6,000m.

Trekkers on their ascent to the Everest

4. Duration

How Long is the Everest Base Camp Trek?

After flying into Lukla, your 65km trek to Everest Base Camp will begin, a 130km round-trip in total. You should take into consideration that this may be longer if you book onto one of our Everest Base Camp extension trips.

On average the duration of the Everest Base Camp trek takes between 12-15 days, but this can vary depending on a number of factors including the travel operator, acclimatisation days to adjust to the high altitude, weather conditions and individual fitness levels.

At Kandoo Adventures, for example, we include multiple acclimatisation days with each of our Everest Base Camp treks which we feel is very important for the welfare and comfort of our clients.

How Long to Climb Everest?

The time required to climb Mount Everest varies, but typically it takes around two months (60-65 days) to complete the ascent, but this may vary depending on the weather, the climber’s physical condition and other factors. This includes time for acclimatisation, rest days and the actual ascent to the summit.

Mountaineers typically take several weeks acclimatising at various camps along the route to avoid altitude sickness and prepare their bodies for the extreme conditions they will face at higher altitudes. The actual ascent from the highest camp to the summit can take 9 to 18 hours, depending on the climber’s speed and stamina.

Tents at Everest base camp

5. Cost

How Much to Climb to Everest Base Camp?

In our experience, the cost of trekking to Everest Base Camp can vary widely depending on factors like the length of the trek, the season and the agency you choose. The cost to trek Everest Base Camp usually includes accommodation and food, permits and insurance, guides and porters and flights.

At Kandoo Adventures we currently operate 7 different trips to Everest Base Camp ranging from £1,199 to £2,749. You will need to organise your own flights to Kathmandu, and we recommend bringing a spending budget of between £400-£650 ($500-$800) depending on the length of the trip and your meal preferences on top of your tips, to give you enough money for souvenirs and treats.

How Much Does It Cost to Climb Mount Everest?

Expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest can cost between £35,000 ($44,200) and £100,000 ($126,500), depending on many factors.

The cost to climb Everest includes permits and visas, insurance, guides, tips, accommodation, flights, food and oxygen. The cost of oxygen alone is around £400 or $500 per bottle and at least five bottles will be needed. You will also need a mask and regulator which are another £400 or $500 each. Sherpas will need oxygen but as they require less, this can cost around £1,600 or $2,000.

For further information, read our blog on how much it actually costs to climb Mount Everest.

Popular Everest Base Camp Treks:

  • Everest Base Camp – a classic 15-day trek to Everest Base Camp
  • Everest Base Camp Lite – a 13-day trek with the same service and guides as the classic Everest Base Camp but without private airport transfer and hotels in Kathmandu
  • Everest Base Camp Overnight – a 15-day trek to Everest Base Camp with overnight stay and walk to the foot of the Khumbu Icefall
  • Everest Base Camp and Island Peak – a challenging 21-day trek to Everest Base Camp and climb to Island Peak
  • Gokyo Lakes – a tough 18-day trek to Everest Base Camp, climb to Gokyo Ri and crossing of the Cho La pass
  • Three Passes – a challenging 21-day trek to Everest Base Camp visiting the Renjo La pass, Cho La pass and Kongma La pass
  • Ultimate Nepal – a challenging 19-day trek to Everest Base Camp including a day of cultural immersion in Kathmandu and exploration of the Nepalese jungle at Chitwan
At Kandoo Adventures we have been running Everest Base Camp treks for years and our guides have some of the highest success rates. It’s important to note however, that we do not organise ascents of Mount Everest as this is a very specialised expedition. Now we’ve cleared up how exactly climbing Mount Everest and trekking to Everest Base Camp differ, why not check out Kandoo Adventures treks to Everest Base Camp?