Trekking to Everest Base Camp is the adventure of a lifetime and if time is short this is the best Everest option. From the exhilarating flight into Lukla to standing on top of Kala Pattar looking over to Everest itself, this is a journey that you will always remember. Your trek follows in the footsteps of the first pioneers, Tenzing and Hillary, as you hike through spectacular scenery following the Khumbu Valley before finally arriving at Base Camp itself.
If you have a few extra days and some experience of trekking then taking the Gokyo Lakes route to Base Camp is a great option. This route offers all the best of the Classic route plus the attraction of a much quieter approach and a circular route that avoids backtracking. Add in the chance to climb Gokyo Ri for fantastic views of Cho Oyu and the dramatic crossing of the Cho La Pass and you have a really exceptional adventure.
This expedition combines the Classic Base Camp trek with the chance to climb Island Peak, a real Himalayan summit with one of the best close up views of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. The climb itself is physically demanding but requires no previous technical experience as you will be led by one of our fantastic Everest Summiteer guides to ensure you are in safe hands.
Mera Peak is the highest trekking peak in Nepal and at 6476m is a huge Himalayan mountain. Not technically a Base Camp trek but the views of Everest and the whole region are second to none. Mera is approached via the quiet Arun Valley before ascending onto the long Mera glacier. As with the Island Peak climb, no previous technical experience is required.
Q1WHICH IS THE BEST ROUTE
All of the routes for trekking in the Khumbu region offer fantastic views, a fascinating cultural experience and a real physical challenge. The two factors that will determine which is the best route for you are the time you have available and how much experience you have of long distance trekking. If you are short on time or relatively new to high altitude trekking we recommend the Classic Route. If you have more trekking experience and are fitter Gokyo Lakes is a great alternative. and for the really fit trekker looking for a real challenge look at climbing Island Peak or Mera Peak.
Q2HOW MANY DAYS DO I NEED?
We operate the Classic trek over 12 days, which with arrival and departure dates means 14 days in Nepal. This itinerary has been designed to ensure a high success rate within a two week trip. You should bear two points in mind in deciding how many days you need. First, on the 12 day itinerary the last days trek back to Lukla is relatively long and after 11 days trekking some people find this challenging. We offer a 13 day options as part of our regular schedule that splits this last day into two separate days.
Second, all of the treks to the Everest region involve flight in and out of the mountain airport at Lukla. Bad weather shuts this airport down and this can cause delays in either starting your trek or returning to Kathmandu. We recommend that you leave some flexibility in your flight arrangements to accommodate this.
Q3HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?
The Classic Trek and the Gokyo Trek require a level of fitness similar for long day hikes at home. The two challenges that you will face are the number of days trekking and the altitude. Even with rest days a 12 day trek can lead to an accumulation of tiredness and we would recommend that before arriving in Nepal you have recently done some weekends when you have done at least two days hiking back to back.
The effects of altitude are complicated and are dealt with in detail here. In essence though the keys to acclimatisation are walking slowly at a comfortable pace and ensuring you remain properly hydrated at all times.
Q4ARE FLIGHTS IN NEPAL SAFE?
Following a fatal air crash in 2012 in Nepal, the European Commission put all of the Nepali airlines on its list of banned operators. As no Nepal Airline flies within the EU the ban has little operational impact. The EU's black list currently includes some 300 airlines of which 8 are in Nepal.
Flying in Nepal is a much higher risk than flying within the EU because of old aircraft and extremely severe flying/landing conditions.
While on some routes it is possible to travel by road this is no safer. Roads are often in very poor repair and subject to landslides and a lot of vehicles are in a poor condition and this increases the risks for everyone.
Unfortunately there is no way to trek in Nepal and avoid these risks. It is a poor country with limited infrastructure. Before booking to visit Nepal you need to consider these risks carefully and decide for yourself whether you find them acceptable.
Q5WHERE IS MOUNT EVEREST LOCATED?
Everest is on the border between Tibet, China and Nepal, in the Mahalangur Himal, part of the Himalayas which stretch between the Arun River west to the Nangpa La pass. The peak actually serves as a marker for the border of Nepal and China.
Q6HOW HIGH IS MOUNT EVEREST?
The most recent confirmed measurement is 8,848 metres above sea level. This measurement was taken by an official Indian survey in 1955, and confirmed by a separate Chinese survey in 1975. The mountain’s great height was first measured officially by Andrew Waugh (and others) as part of the Great Triginometrical Survey of India in 1856. It was measured at the time as 29,002 feet (8,840 metres), which was really quite accurate, all things considered.
It is interesting to know that the actual measurement at the time was exactly 29,000 feet. Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician, added the extra 2 feet so that it was less of a suspiciously round number.
Mount Everest grows by approximately 4 millimetres every year, due to the tectonic forces that continue to build it.
Q7IS MOUNT EVEREST REALLY THE TALLEST MOUNTAIN IN THE WORLD?
Yes and no. It is the mountain whose peak is the highest above sea level. The earth is not a perfect sphere, though. Because it is thicker around the Equator than at the poles, there are four mountains that are closer to the Equator which have peaks that are farther from the earth’s core, but not farther above sea level. Ecuador’s Mt Chimborazo is one example.
Q8HOW DID EVEREST GET ITS NAME?
The Royal Geographical Society named the mountain after Sir George Everest (pronounced EEV-rest), the man who had headed the Triginometrical Survey before Waugh, despite the overall policy to use local names where they already exist. In fact, Sir George never even saw the peak from a distance.
Before the British, Everest was known in Tibet as Chomolungma, which (very roughly) translated means Mother of the Earth. It is believed by many that the mother-creator goddess Miyolangsangma resides inside the mountain. In Sanskrit it is called Sagarmatha, meaning Brow of the Sky. This is the name officials in Kathmandu have used for it since the 1960s.
Q9WHO FIRST CLIMBED MOUNT EVEREST?
The first recorded successful ascent to the summit was by Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May, 1953. It wasn’t successfully climbed in the winter until 1980, by Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy, both from Poland.
Hillary later visited both the North and South Poles, becoming the first to visit both, and Everest in 1985. Hillary was made a knight of the Garter in 1995, on the same day as Margaret Thatcher.
In 2014, the Nepalese government named two only slightly lower peaks after Hillary (7681 metres) and Tenzing (7916 metres) and opened them for climbing. They remain unclimbed so far.
Q10HOW MANY HAVE REACHED THE SUMMIT SINCE HILLARY AND NORGAY?
The official figures up till February of 2014 show that 4042 climbers have made the ascent 6871 times. Obviously, some of them have made more than one trip. The most frequent climbers are the Sherpas themselves.
The record for the most Everest ascents is tied – held by Phurba Tashi and Apa Tashi with 21 ascents each. Apa did get to 21 first, to be fair. The Briton with the most ascents under his belt is Kenton Cool, who has stood on the summit on eleven separate occasions. In 2007, he did it twice in the same week.
Q11WHO WERE THE OLDEST AND YOUNGEST TO CLIMB EVEREST?
The range of ages among those who have climbed Everest is staggering. The oldest person was Yuichiro Miura from Japan at 80 in 2013, while the youngest was American Jordan Romero at 13 in 2010.
Q12HAVE MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST?
Since records began in 1922, 265 people have died attempting to climb Everest. A bit more than half (159) have died on the Nepali side of the mountain, and 106 in Tibetan territory. It is estimated that around 200 bodies remain lost in Everest’s ‘Death Zone’ at 8000 metres and above. Many will never be found and very few are recovered.
Unfortunately, the majority of these deaths were Sherpas. Of the Nepali deaths, 82 were Nepal natives and only 77 were foreigners. This is to be expected, though, as Sherpas spend more time on the mountain than most other groups. Their survival per attempt is much higher than that figure suggests. More people go up the mountain than ever, but the death rate among those most likely to ascend (high altitude workers) is now less than 0.6%, or six in 1000.
Still, it is very dangerous work. In April 2014 the mountain saw the worst loss of life in a single event, when Everest’s west shoulder experienced a serac collapse. Tragically, 16 people were killed including 13 Sherpas.
Q13CAN YOU SKI OR SNOWBOARD DOWN MOUNT EVEREST?
Probably best not to try, but Davorin Karnicar did descend 12,000 feet on skis, reaching the base camp on the south side successfully in October of 2000. Yiuchio Miura (the oldest man to climb Everest, see above) skied down approximately 4200 feet of the mountain starting at the South Col in 2013.
Snowboarding seems to be even more dangerous, despite what video games would have us believe. It has been done though by two men in 2001: Stefan Gratt of Austria and Marco Siffredi of France. Unfortunately Siffredi made a second attempt in 2002 and disappeared, never to be seen again.