How difficult is trekking to Everest Base Camp EBC) for an average walker? If you are curious about the EBC trek difficulty, read this article.
EBC trek is a popular high-altitude trek in Nepal. Altitude is the most difficult factor of this trek. With high altitude come the risks of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You should never underestimate the altitude and the altitude sickness.
The starting point of the trek is at Lukla. Lukla itself sits at an altitude of 2860 meters. This is already an altitude high enough to encourage altitude sickness. The highest point on the trek is at Kala Patthar, 5554 meters. During this trek, there is no point where the risk of altitude sickness is less.
How to Deal with Altitude?
- Walk slow. Maintain a constant pace of the walk. Anyone of any age, gender, or physical fitness might be a victim of altitude sickness. So, do not try to overdo it even if you have a fit body. Gaining more altitude in a single day can increase the risk of altitude sickness
- Proper acclimatization is a key to success. Choose the itinerary with a proper acclimatization schedule. Your itinerary must have at least 2 acclimatization days
- Take your time to reach the base camp. Do not regret spending more days on your outward journey. Instead, you can have a short return journey
- Consult with your medical advisor on the medical advice before going on the trek. Get some medicines against common illnesses on the trek. Some of them include altitude sickness, cold, diarrhoea, pain reliever, etc. You mustn’t consume sleeping pills while trekking
- Do some research on altitude sickness; its symptoms, precautions, and treatments. Descend to the lower altitudes as soon as you get any signs of the sickness
Is Everest Base Camp Too Long to Trek?
The only way to visit the base camp of Everest in Nepal is by trekking. Everest Base Camp is 203 km (appx.) away from Kathmandu. The distance between Kathmandu to Lukla is 138 km. You will cover this distance via Kathmandu - Lukla flight of about 35 to 45 minutes. The distance between Lukla to the base camp is 65 km. This is the total distance that you’ll cover by walking. In a 14 days standard itinerary, you must walk for 6 to 7 hours a day on average.
The trail is not as facilitated as the trails in the city areas. Walking along the remote trekking trail can be tough. Walking through the remote areas over the rugged trails is challenging in itself. You must walk through the steep and rocky path for 6 to 7 hours a day. This can even be exhausting.
How to cope with Long Trek?
- If you want to reduce the number of walking hours per day, choose long itineraries
- Eat good food and get proper rest to keep your body energized
- Carry some snacks that are refreshing and will supply your body with energy while trekking
- Trek with a guide or in a group. You will feel cherished while trekking in a group rather than being alone.
Training Tips that may Ease Your Trek to EBC
The trek does not demand any training. But having a healthy mind and a fit body will always be helpful. The training for trekking in the Everest Region isn't so difficult. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or spend your whole day on training.
- Take out some time out of your busy schedule. You can go to gyms or on longer hikes. You can also do some basic exercises like jogging, cycling, etc. during the mornings or evenings
- Prepare your body and mind for the strenuous trek to the base camp of Everest. Here are some training practices that could be helpful for your trek. Start this training 6 to 8 weeks before your trek. Frame your body so that it gets comfortable with trekking for 6 to 7 hours every day on the trek
Hiking Practices for Everest Trekking
- You’ll be hiking for 6 to 7 hours every day. Covering an average of 12 to 15 kilometres in 6 hours might sound normal. But the EBC trails aren’t even. You’ll be walking ups and downs on the rugged terrains
- Doing some hiking practices before going on the EBC trek might help you. It will be easy for you to hike on the EBC trail if it isn’t your first hiking experience. Practice hiking to some hills nearby the places where you live. Better to practice the hikes in your hiking boots
- If you go on 3 to 4 long hikes before going on the actual trek, the EBC trek will be relatively easier. Practising hikes with some weights on your back will be more fruitful
- As you trek to the higher altitudes, the air gets thinner. Thin air means the amount of oxygen in the air lessens. Your body must cope with the low oxygen conditions while trekking to Everest base camp. Else, you’ll get acute mountain sickness.
- Activities like jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. will help you get used to low oxygen conditions. This aids in building up your cardiovascular endurance. This will train your body to improve oxygen intake per breath. Practising aerobic exercise will help you prepare your body to become flexible.
- Trekking over the rugged trails while walking a continuous uphill and downhill is tough. Some part of your body that has to bear the strain must be stronger
- The upper body strengthening should be your priority. You will be walking for long distances while carrying a heavy backpack. Practice bench press, pull-ups and press-ups in the gym. These will be perfect workouts for your stronger upper body. Exercises like jogging and hiking will strengthen your legs
- Start with comfortable light exercises. You can upgrade the level of your practices once you get used to the basic level. Make sure you eat energy-supplying diets while practising strength training
- You must be mentally strong to go on difficult treks like EBC. Mental strength develops itself after you do strength practices and cardiovascular training. You will feel that you are now ready to see any sorts of difficulties that might come along the way
- Do not try to push your limits. Be confident. Always keep yourself motivated while trekking
Unpredictable Weather and Temperature at Everest Base Camp
The camp sits at an altitude of 5380 meters. Traveling to the base camp of Everest is possible all year round. The weather and temperature at the base camp change at any hour. However, the unpredictable weather and temperature conditions add difficulty to the trek. Nights are very cold as compared to the days. This incredible temperature range occurring in a single day is a matter of surprise.
Autumn (September, October, and November) and Spring (March, April, and May), being the best seasons, have stable weather and temperature on Everest. But there is no guarantee of a perfectly stable day, at any time of the year. There is no way to exactly predict what the temperature and weather will be like on Everest.
The weather is generally predicted based on weather patterns in the seasons and months. The seasons of Monsoon (June, July, and August) and Winter (November, December, and January) are the off-seasons to trek Everest. During these times, walking over the EBC trails will be even more difficult.
Due to frequent rainfalls, the trails will be wet and slippery in monsoon. In winter, parts of the trail at the ridges and high-altitude passes become impossible to walk over. Due to bad weather, you might even have to cancel your treks at times.
How to Prepare for Temperature and Weather Difficulty?
- Choose to trek in the peak seasons. At this time, difficulties due to weather and temperature will be lesser.
- Watch out for the current weather and temperature conditions while on the treks.
- Packing appropriate gear for different times of the year will be very helpful. Get rainproof gears for monsoon and warm gears for cold nights and winters.
- Prepare a positive mindset. Be ready to encounter the weather and temperature variations during the trek.
Flight Delays to and From Lukla
- Lukla airport is known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Flying to Lukla airport demands courage. The runway is only 500 meters long. The runway perched on a mountain ridge is unique.
- The weather changes on an average day might make landing impossible at the airport. The steep terrain and treacherous runway make the landing difficult during unclear weather.
- Domestic flights to and from Lukla get delayed or cancelled during bad weather conditions. Thus, trekking in the off-season (winter and monsoon) means there will be higher chances of flight delays or cancellations.
How to Prepare for Flight Delays?
- Always choose the right time to go. During Spring and Autumn, the weather tends toward a stable one.
- Watch out for the varying patterns in current weather and temperature conditions in the Everest region.
- Always spare a few more days that will cover the extra days on the trek due to flight delays.
- Buy travel insurance that will cover your flight cancellations.
Improper Diet and Food Poisoning
There are lots of trekkers who claim to get diarrhoea or upset stomachs while trekking. This happens when you consume unhealthy diets. You might have to put a full stop on your trek if you get sick on the trail.
So, make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Try to avoid eating meat products during the Everest region treks. The raw meat or the meat products gets transported from the lower region to the higher region via porters or mules
Also, do not drink water directly from the streams or rivers. You must drink bottled mineral water. Or you can use water purifiers before you drink the water from the taps or streams. Avoid drinking alcohol during the trek. Instead, you can drink some of the hot flavoured drinks provided by the teahouses
Fear of Getting Lost in the Wilderness
- Hire a guide and porter for your trek: Trekking to Everest base camp by carrying all your equipment and gear by yourself is very tough. Also, trekking alone without a guide means there are chances of getting lost
- You might get into trouble and might not find ways out of it: Do not worry about adding to the cost of your trek by hiring guides and porters. Trekking with them is much easier than trekking without them
Pack Light or Your Backpack might Drag You Behind
- Your trek can be very tough or even worse if you lack the essential trekking gear. You will need different trekking gear for trekking at different times of the year.
- Pack wisely. Include all the necessary items. For detailed information on gearing up, you can read our article on 'Packing lists for EBC trek'.
Proper planning and suitable preparations are the keys to easier treks. If you have a strong determination to trek to the EBC, no difficulties can pull you back. Plan your trek with us, we will make your trip memorable.
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