Nepal: Climbing Mount Everest Base Camp

By Chia Jeng Yang

For most of my National Service, I was pretty exhausted mentally and needed something fresh to help mark a new start into life. Something simple. I decided to climb Everest Base Camp. I once went on a Scouts hike. Probably the same thing.

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas

Anyway, I was young and I was ready. This is a short window into my experience, how I did it, and what it was like.

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
http://www.abovethehimalaya.com/

I arranged my hike with this local agency, mostly because they had awesome reviews on TripAdvisor, particularly one about how the boss, Puru, helped rearrange the flights for a couple delayed by weather. I thought that if anything happened, he would be the best person to help me deal with problems. This turned out to be one of the better decisions of the trip. When I became hospitalised, Puru visited me every day and helped arrange the insurance coverage details at no extra charge. Awesome props to him, which explains my tiny free publicity!

What I stocked up on:

  • Anti altitude pills: Diamox was an altitude sickness pill that I used to good effect. I was particularly sensitive to altitude sickness and taking Diamox twice a day, starting from 2 days before the hike itself, helped me to get up to 5,500m.  When the symptoms started getting severe, a Taiwanese biologist also gave me a couple of Viagra pills to help me regulate my bloodflow. As they say, whatever floats your boat. I also feel obligated to point out that altitude sickness affects people randomly and is not dependent on physical fitness at all. On the trek, I met middle-aged novice hikers who showed no symptoms at all and a fit 18-year old guy from Korea who was bedridden for 4 days at 4000m.
  • Vitamin C fizzy tablets: With harsh winds and extremely low humidity, it’s easy for a throat to get really dry and painful after a few days. I found those Vitamin C fizzy tablets to be a lifesaver and an excellent way to kickstart the morning!
  • Panadol: I used panadol when the altitude sickness headaches started to get a bit severe. It’s not a long-term solution, but it helped me power through to Everest Base Camp. You’re not supposed to be taking a lot of Diamox and Panadol at the same time, so do watch your dosage. I took about 4 panadols a day for 3 days, alongside my daily regiment of Diamox.
  • Winter clothes (duh): Try to pack down jackets and athletic heat-tech tights. Don’t forget a Gortex jacket shell!
  • Thermal flask: I bought this amazing Elephant (Zojirushi) thermal flask that’s probably one of the best in the market. My boiling water stayed boiling after a harsh cold windy day in the Himalayas. I frequently accidentally burned my tongue because of how well it retained heat. It holds about 1.5l of water and is about 40 USD.
  • Portable charger: This might be quite important to some who might want to charge their handphones, cameras, gopros, music players, etc. I did not need to pay to charge my electronics the whole time I was there as I bought a really great Poweradd Apollo 2 10,000 mAh charger that is pretty sturdy and more than lasted the 10 days. It’s relatively cheap too, at around 40 USD. To this day, I’m still using it. It has a solar charging function, though it’s ridiculously slow and to be relied on in emergencies only. (Takes about 1 week to gather enough charge to completely replenish an iPhone)
  • Sleeping Bag: Depending on where you live, getting a good one might be extremely expensive (100-200 USD), Teahouses provide blankets for free which you can stock up and make your own blanket fort, but only if you’re British. (That was a joke.)
  • Walking stick: Cheap and decent quality for single trip use available for cheap purchase (15 USD) at Kathmandu

What you can expect to experience:

Flying into Lukla, the main air terminal of the Himalayas and the 2nd most dangerous airport in the world. The end of the runway STARTS from the edge of a sharp cliff and climbs upwards. (Flights get cancelled due to weather regularly. A hiker I met mentioned that her flight got repeatedly cancelled 5 days in a row. I would suggest considering a couple days of leeway when booking your return trip to your home country.)

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
View from my seat located on the pilot’s ass. The first time I’ve ever sat in the passenger seat and be able to crane your neck into the cockpit.

So how does one take off from Lobouche airport?

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Downwards. Directly towards another mountain which the pilot must then swerve violently to avoid. Airlines have a gravity surcharge.

Hiking in the Himalayas takes place from village to village, with accommodation and food along the way. It’s pretty hard to get lost, though there are very few safety barriers, especially the higher up one goes. You also have to look out for cute squirrels and small rockslides. A good FAQ about when to go/safety issues can be found here. It is quite safe all things considered, there are always people on the trail with you, either as fellow trekkers or locals acting as porters.

Gorgeous sunrises

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
The morning from Phakding village, 2610m. There are still trees here though the snow peaking over gives an idea of what to come.

Something completely different

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Looking down the valley, being overcome with the fact that you can see your goal in the distance and yet know that it’s still a few days hike away. This is what Frodo must have felt.

Winding trails

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
The tracks can be seen pretty easily as can be seen below, though as the map all the way above can see, there is no one direct path to anywhere. It’s a hiking free-for-all up there.

Ordinary life at 3,440m

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Because soccer is still soccer. Except at 3,440m. Then it’s Nepalese soccer and we just watch.

The dustbin at the end of the path

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Be prepared to carry whatever trash you have with you for the majority of the day. Littering is very much frowned upon. It may be a surprise for one to note that dustbins are not commonplace in the Himalayas.

Yaks

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Wagging their butts or horns at you, they are either the cutest thing ever or a manifestation of divine punishment. There is Yak shit everywhere.

Epic makeshift airports

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
This kid, Nuru climbs a 400m+ hill every morning and evening. I climbed it to acclimatize. He climbed it to go to school. That’s his school bag on him. The rectangular edge right behind the horses are where planes touch down.

Heightened views

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Namache – Home of the Namache Bazaar and the biggest village in the Himalayas

Love from fellow Singaporeans

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Damn VJC kids got here before me

Local cuisine

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
There’s lasagne in the Himalayas. No word on whether Domino delivers.

Accommodations

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Surprisingly comfortable and clean, do be prepared for thin walls and weird noises

Countless card games

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
I forgot what game we were playing but it was awesome and involved 3 different decks of cards at one time. Cue everyone’s confused face.

Mount Everest

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
Circled above, because apparently it can’t be seen properly despite being the highest mountain on Earth

What a night with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema can do:

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
My oximeter reading reached 65% halfway through, which was minor brain damage levels. In the court of law, this constitutes medical precedent for diminished responsibility. #banter

Everest Basecamp

Nepal climbing mount everest base camp trekking hiking jeng yang awesome himalayas
I met this 30 year old lady who had never gone trekking before who hiked to Everest Base Camp and planted this Singapore flag.
The Goal: During the peak seasons of March/April, EBC is basically a large rocky plain with dozens of tents such as these. Pictured is the glacier pass to enter into Mount Everest proper.

Total basic costs: (Debatable but >~600 USD exc winter gear)

Trip: 1400 USD

(It can certainly be much cheaper than this, if one is to go without a guide and arrange their own accommodation whilst in the Himalayas itself. I talked to a few people who were hiking for about 10 days by themselves and they spent around 500-600 USD. If I’m going again I would probably go without a trip guide, since I now know the pathways around, which are fairly obvious to begin with. I would advise first-timers to go with a guide so save yourself the hassle.)

Uniquely, accommodation is free in the mountains, but you have to purchase at least two meals for every day of stay, which varies wildly from 5 to 20 USD per day. I would budget 15 USD per day to be safe (including tea and some small snacks)

Wifi can vary from 1 to 5 USD per hour.

Water: 50 USD

Water isn’t cheap, and price can rise up to tenfold the further inward one goes into the Himalayas. However, you can save money by purchasing a bottle filter and requesting unboiled water, which is free.

Do you know any awesome adventure tips, tricks or stories?

Share with us in the comments below or submit stories here at chiajy2000@yahoo.com.sg!

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