‘Anyone who is quite well and fit can do this trek’ people will say and they are not wrong but what do they mean by ‘fairly easy’? You won’t be needing rope, harness or snow axe. You will not be needing any special skill other than walking either but neither is this a walk in the park. Then, how challenging is Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trekking really?
EBC is one of the most popular trail in Nepal. Hundreds of people, both competent and amateur trekkers, successfully complete this trek every year. The ever changing picture perfect landscapes, ice falls, glacier lakes and the splendid mountains; anyone would want to undertake Everest Base Camp trekking. But, can I do it?
How Challenging is Everest base Camp Trekking?
Anyone can do Everest Base Camp trekking but it does not mean it is easy. This is a very long trek. It requires 4 to 7 hours of walking every day for 10 to 12 days straight. It includes steep climbs and descents. This will be hard on your knees. Climbing up to 5,364m is, of course, going to be intense. In short, it is physically really very demanding.
10/ 12 days is a long time away from home and from the comforts of your well facilitated life. Eventually, the altitude, the exertion will start to get to you. There are a variety of food options but it dwindles as you climb and a repetition will not meet your cravings. So bring some snacks, some of your own comfort food. Bring some source of entertainment like a notepad, songs in your mobile and such. But mostly, know beforehand about what to expect and mentally prepare yourself for it. The scenery itself is a great motivation though. Hope you do not get homesick easily.
It will be cold. Very cold. People are often suggested to bring a light sleeping bag despite the fact that you will be lodging. Tea houses here do not have a heating system. They do provide a blanket but that is not enough. The point is, if cold is not good for you, if you have such a medical condition that prohibits you from venturing to this land of winter (at higher altitude), then be warned. Take precautions. But if it really is not good for you, then it is not good for you.
The highest altitude reached is 5,364m. The air gets considerably thin. Despite your physical fitness, stamina, strength or experience, you will suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Acclimatize properly. Namche Bazzar and Dingboche are the usual stopping point for acclimatization. Even then, if you feel the symptoms coming, take necessary measures. AMS can be fatal. It is not something to get over or bear through. If you have a medical condition that do not fare well with high altitude, it is something to take into consideration.
Do you have a fear of heights? Know that you will mostly be walking on the side of a cliff and across some high suspension bridges.
Fear of Animals?
It might seem silly but I know I’m afraid of cows and horses. The only giant that I wouldn’t mind going anywhere near to is a domesticated elephant. This is really no reason not to do this trek though. Just a heads up, you will probably come across a line of Yaks, donkeys or other animals of labor on your way to the Base Camp. Even if you are not afraid of animals, do give them some space. They have the right of way. Let them pass first. Also, walk on the hill side instead of the edge. Being pushed off by these animals happen more often than you would expect.
Not to deter you from what will probably be an experience of a lifetime, but it is necessary to know things, to be prepared for it. Try to stay positive. When it gets hard, take a step at a time. I have found that counting 1-2-1-2 in my head helps. Always breathe from nose and not mouth. Personally, I think the trek is worth every effort and hope that you will decide to go for it.