Yes, it was in my mind for sometime and after 6 months of planning, we finally decided to go for Everest Base Camp. Me along with my 3 family members, made the decision to test our strength of mind and body. Even before we decided to say yes to the tour operator, we read couple of blogs to understand the difficulty level of the trek. Everyone say, yah, it's easy, totally doable, nothing so dangerous which hiked our expectations level and we finally enrolled ourselves.
The trek day was nearer and our preparation level lesser. We did gym for sometime, bit of walking around. I did couple of day hikes but honestly I was unaware of the altitude as it was just a day hike. This was obviously our negative point because, if you have done like 3-5-7 days trek, you are aware about the basics of trekking. Nevertheless, the tour operator ensured that we are well aware about everything, from what gear to buy, to what we will be doing, to where we will be sleeping, what kinda clothing we will require. Since we were inexperienced, we asked a lot of question. It is very important to do it. You need to know what you have enrolled for.
Our journey started with Flight to Kathmandu from Mumbai. Early morning we got ready with our bags and gear to concur Everest Base Camp (EBC). Our weight limit for the trek was 10 kg with porter and rest, if any, you will have to carry it. When we weighted ours bags at home, it looked well under the weight limit, only to realise it wasn't in Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, we had session with tour operator going over the itinerary and detailed briefing session. They handed over the duffle bag in which we needed to pack our stuff for the porter and shoulder bag will be our day pack which we will be carrying during the trek. Important in day pack was water, as in the high altitude, we were advised to drink lots of water.
The entire experience of the EBC trek was indeed wonderful, thanks to our tour operator and well trained guide who informed us about each and everything. Everyday in the evening, we get briefing on the next day's trek, the duration, altitude awareness etc. As we went higher, they also started checking our heart rate and oxygen level every night. It is important to communicate with your guide about anything you feel like headache or body pain. They ensure that if it needs immediate attention, you will be evacuated in Heli to Lukla. We had to opted for expensive travel insurance which mention the cover as per the altitude we will be trekking. Our insurance was from World Nomad's - Explorer Plan.
The ideal season to do EBC trek is from March- May and also End September to October. From March-May, you also see the action taking place at the base camp as all the summit takes place in April-May month based on weather condition. The final summit is only for few days but preparation starts 2 months in advance from February onwards. In September-October, the weather will be bit colder and rainy, the trek will be beautiful and you will reach the base camp, however, you will not be able to see any tent or people staying there. Everest Base Camp changes its location every year based on the snow fall and strength of the snow on the glacier. Even when we went in May end, we saw many companies dismantling their camps as their trekkers were on the journey back home. As we reached closer to the trek, we saw many summiteers and Sherpa heading back home, some with happiness on their mind and some with sadness or disappointment.
Winter clothing is important. Since you will be carrying less luggage, all your clothing needs to be lighter in weight. The material of t-shirt and track pants needs to be water resistant. We used 3 track pants and 3 t-shirt for 11 day trek with fleece jacket during the day or night. If you feel cold very much like me, wear Down jacket during the trek. Down jacket is a very light weight jacket which can be packed in a small bag and can be worn in minus temperature. Most of the trek was very windy, hence, down jacket will be the best choice. Sunglasses, cap/hat and Bandana is most important to save yourself from getting tan. 2 different pair of thermal (water repellent) are must. We bought two type of thermal, one light and second one thick to save from lower temperature. Shower is luxury and is replaced by baby wipes and deodorant in the mountain. The key to packing for trek is carrying only the necessary items and nothing additional or backups.
I was contemplating the decision to carry dslr camera as it is very heavy, but, I was happy that I did. I was glad to capture the scenery and vast mountain in my camera. I ended up spending 1 hour extra on trek only to keep on clicking pictures of mountains. It was really a breathtaking sight. This trek is best part of my life and I am proud to say that I managed to complete without any harm to my health or any after effect. The only after effect is that I missed those mountains after coming back to normal life.
If EBC is in your mind, start preparing and do it someday in your life. Age is not a criteria, if your fitness level is good, you can manage to do the trek. Do it not because of glory, do it for the love of mountains. It is not a luxury trip, it is a challenge, rather a doable challenge, if you put your mind and heart into it.
Soon I will be putting a very detailed day-wise blogs on Everest Base Camp. Stay Tuned !!!