Blonde’s Guide to Everest Base Camp

Woohoo! So you’re going do it, you’ve made the plunge to hike to the base of the highest mountain in the world! You’ve been training for weeks, hiking for hours to build up your endurance. You’ve got all the equipment and worn in your hiking boots to prevent blisters. You’ve dog-eared all the important information about Nepal in your Lonely Planet guidebook. You’re stocked up on protein bars and socks. You’re ready to take on Everest Base Camp!

Congratulations – you’ve come prepared.

I, however, was not.

Like all excellent ideas, I decided to do Everest Base Camp on a whim. On what was supposed to be a laid-back, backpacking trip through Asia morphed into a cultural and physical shock to the system. Instead of lying on a beach in the Philippines, I decided that hiking to the highest mountain in the world would be more satisfying, so with a month until my departure date, I booked a trip to do one of the toughest hikes on the planet.

While I had an absolutely fantastic time, my lack of preparation could have been bypassed if I’d done a little bit of research. But have no fear, now that I’ve gone and conquered Everest Base Camp, I’ll fill you in on some of the things you need to know!

You will not step foot on the actual Mount Everest

Alright, laugh all you want but it wasn’t until two weeks before I left that I learnt I wouldn’t actually stand on Mt Everest. Before this revelation, I was having visions of myself, standing proudly on Mt Everest, feeling on top of the world. Blame my blonde hair and lack of general knowledge on Nepal but it was a sad moment when I learnt the truth. Don’t let this dishearten you though, hiking to the Base Camp is a feat in itself and there’s a reward for us amateur hikers that you’ll discover in the next point.

Hike to Kala Patthar to the best view of Mt Everest

Picture this – you’ve hiked for eight days without showers and eating basic food in high altitudes. In other words, you’re bloody exhausted. Base Camp day comes and goes and while the euphoric feeling of reaching those colourful prayer flags near the Khumbu Icefall is amazing, you a little disappointed that Everest was still a bit hard to see. Not to worry, there’s one more hike that will take you higher for not only the best view of Mt Everest but the highest point you’ll go on the trek. Kala Patthar sits at 5,612m above sea level and was the most difficult hike of the whole trip. The strenuous uphill stretch to the top will knock the wind out of you, make you dizzy and turn your legs to jelly but the view from the top is so, so worth it! While most people go for sunrise, the best view is apparently for sunset so make sure you allow enough time to do it. Trust me, even if you’re absolutely exhausted, this will be the most memorable part of your trek.

This might just look like I'm standing here like a goof pointing at a hill but I'm actually standing on a small, slippery peak at 5612m above sea level pointing at Mt. Everest🏔 Known as Kala Patthar, this is the main reason Base Camp seemed a little dull. I could have taken a million photos and it wouldn't give this view any justice, it was 360 degrees of Himalayan perfection🙌🏼 (and bloody hard work to get to!) #mteverest #EBC #kalapatthar #nepal . . . . #mounteverestofficial #bestintravel #choosemountains #ladiesgoneglobal #letsgoeverywhere #livetheblondelife #hikingadventures #gadv #gopro #goprohero5 #gopronation #goproselfie #goprophotography #dametraveler #femmetravel #sheisnotlost #openmyworld #iamtb #travelstoke #thehappynow #thediscoverer #travelbloggers #thedailyadventurer #radgirlslife #womenwhoexplore #wearetravelgirls

A post shared by Jess • Solo Female Traveller (@ablondeandherpassport) on

Pack more baby wipes than a new mother

Before I start on this point, I’m speaking from a girl-on-a-budget point of view. If you’ve got money to throw around, move along to the next point! If not, keep reading. Showers are available at most tea houses, however, are usually glacial temperature unless you fork over some serious dollars. So unless you haven’t got money worries and can afford to have a hot shower every night (also I can’t guarantee the said hot shower will actually be hot!) you won’t want to be stripping off and having an icy shower in a cold climate. This is where baby wipes come in. By the second day, you’ll get used to the ‘baby wipe’ shower and always feeling kind of dirty. Chances are, everyone around you, unless they’re Richie Rich, will smell just as bad as you! Pack more baby wipes than you think you will need because it can be tricky to find them on the trail and if you do, they’ll be triple the price in Kathmandu! The plus side to not showering for your whole trek is that you will never take showering for granted again!

 

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If you’re truly hardcore, you can always bathe in the glacial waters of the Kkumbu Icefall!

 

Same goes for toilet paper and hand sanitiser

Guys, you’re on a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas. Don’t be a dummy like me and only pack one small tube of hand sanitiser and one roll of toilet paper. The price of these essentials is exponential compared to what you would pay in Kathmandu so come prepared. I won’t sugar coat it, the bathrooms get pretty rough the higher you go so you’ve just got to grit your teeth and bear it.

Learn to love (starchy) carbs

Usually, my diet consists of pretty limited starchy carbs and if I have any, it comes from brown rice, sweet potatoes etc. So when I opened the menu at our first tea house to discover there were only white potatoes and white rice on the menu, I had to apologise to my digestive system and carb up. I won’t lie, the first day pigging out on fried potatoes is fun but after six days eating the same carb-filled menu and unless you’re a meat and potatoes kinda person you’ll start dreading meal times. Though to keep up energy levels, you’ve gotta swallow the carbs, so just knuckle down and spoon in another mouthful.

Don’t be afraid of altitude sickness

I say this because even before you leave Kathmandu, the topic of conversation will be how you’re feeling, Altitude affects everybody, no matter what your fitness level is. While it’s important to go steady, drink lots of water and eat regularly, be careful to not talk yourself into being sick. Your guide (if they’re a good guide) will frequently ask you how you feel – which is good – but can over-warn you about the effects of altitude sickness, which can lead you to think you’re feeling worse than you are. Of course, if you’re feeling sick be super careful but remember that you are at an unusually high altitude so you’re not going to feel 100% all the time.

 

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Breathless from the altitude and the view!

 

Stop and take the damn photo. 

I remember at times on the trek I was too bloody tired to whip out my camera to catch the beauty that surrounded me. As the days wore on and the stunning Himalayan landscape got more dramatic, I got more blaśe about the view. Okay so I woke up to a snow-capped mountain outside my window, or yeah there’s another glacial pool in the distance, oh wait that’s Mt Everest again. No! Stop! Take the damn photo!

Most of all, enjoy your trek. It’s not easy, the altitude will make you feel like an empty shell of yourself and the plain food will more than likely disrupt your digestion but it’s a small price to pay to witness the glorious mountains of the Himalayas! For most, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and one you want to be absolutely prepared for!

J. x

12 thoughts on “Blonde’s Guide to Everest Base Camp

  1. Congrats on doing this, sounds like a challenge but definitely worth it for those amazing views! Would love to do it one day!

  2. Great post – I really learned so much. I’m afraid I would have been like you and shocked to realize Base Camp was not on Mt. Everest. Oops. Amazing advice about taking the damn photo! It’s easy to get ‘bored’ by our travels in just a short time, but we’ll regret it later.

  3. I LOVE your tips, especially not overthinking being sick and stopping to take a photo even if you’re tired. So often I’m like, screw it but then I’ll WISH I took more photos during a trek. Love your photos too btw!

    -Alyssa

  4. This is a great post! I am currently planning a trip to EBC with one of my best friends in April. We’ve been doing a tonne of research and feel confident we could do it independently (without a guide/porter) but our parents have recently started to panic slightly… Just wanted to ask- you mentioned you had a guide- what’s your opinion on trekking with one? I know having a guide would definitely be safer, but did you meet many people on the trek who were trekking without one? Thank you!

    1. Thanks! We did come across a couple of people who were without a guide but most people had at least one porter with them. Simply because the higher up you go, the harder the tracks are to see. When we were hiking to Gorek Shep, you are pretty much scrambling across loose stones and there is no set path so I definitely was glad to have a guide. In saying that, if you’re going in high season you can easily follow other people but as we were hiking in low season there was hardly anybody on the track. For safety reasons I would say get a guide once you’re in Kathmandu, just in case. Have the best time though!

  5. This is a great post! I am currently planning a trip to EBC with one of my best friends in April. We’ve been doing a tonne of research and feel confident we could do it independently (without a guide/porter) but our parents have recently started to panic slightly… Just wanted to ask- you mentioned you had a guide- what’s your opinion on trekking with one? I know having a guide would definitely be safer, but did you meet many people on the trek who were trekking without one? Thank you!

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