Is Everest base camp worth visiting
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Mar 3, 2013 1:50 AM Last Post By: scoodly
Feb 2, 2013 6:36 AM
Is Everest base camp worth visitingHi everyone,
My title question may sound strange as I know that base camp is many people's dream trip. I have the chance to go to Nepal this October and was originally thinking of doing a lower altitude trek, but have found out that if I make it a 3 week trip and for not much extra cost I can go to base camp and kala Pattar peak as well. Can people tell me whether base camp is worth the extra? I was a bit worried about altitude, although I have trekked to nearly 5000m before in Peru and was ok, apart from a slight headache that went away as we descended.
Feb 2, 2013 7:29 AM
1For a glimpse of the highest mountain in the world . . . Hmmm . . . would be worth it if such a thing "sings to you" :) A very rigorous hike, to basecamp, much more so than something like the Annapurna Sanctuary. As for your headaches at 5000m. - something to both take as "natural"/comes with the territory and something to be aware of. Altitude strikes everyone differently, and each of us differently each time we go high.
Feb 2, 2013 9:23 AM
EBC remains a great trek and the view from Kala Patar is worth it, as is wandering around base camp itself (whether the climbers' tents are there or not). All the way to Nepal and to miss the chance of seeing Everest for, as you say, little extra money? I would do it, although it would be interesting to know thw other trek option.
By following recommended altitude gians the vast majority of people cope with altitude well; see the HRA website for more info. If you are concerned about the itinerary post it/link to it for further advice.
Feb 2, 2013 1:35 PM
3Anyone who is afflicted with Diabetes II (i.e. non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes) will do well to monitor his/her dailyblood-sugar levels, using a glucometer + strips, as s/he gets closer and closer to Everest Base Camp or Kala Pattar. This is very important because some, if not most, trekkers tend to lose their appetite and to not sleep enough the higher they ascend into thinner and thinner air. Needless to say, not eating enough food (to replenish the energy spent in trekking) reduces one's sugar levels and not getting enough sleep reduces one's vitality. A far worse consequence for the diabetic is hypoglycemia (extreme low blood sugar level). Google for info on hypoglycemia, the symptoms of which include fainting and/or an altered sensorium and other symptoms not unlike those of high mountain sickness. Needless to say, if one knows one's blood sugar levels, one could take prophylactic action (by eating more carbohydrates + sugar) to avert/avoid hypoglycemia.
If one buys insurance to cover oneself for high mountain sickness and that insurance stipulates it does not cover any pre-existing condition, then one runs the risk of not being covered in the event both high mountain sickness and hypoglycemia hit one simultaneously. You see, a rogue insurance company could renege on coverage by ignoring high mountain sickness and instead arguing that it was hypoglycemia that was responsible for your loss of consciousness necessitating, say, a helicopter rescue from a high altitude (ca. 5000m) area.
Feb 2, 2013 7:12 PM
4Basecamp is probably not worth it, but Kala Pattar is.
In my opinion, it's barely worth trekking to basecamp. You can't really see the mountain itself from basecamp. Geographically, the place is relatively unexceptional, and if it is serious climbing season, serious climbers probably aren't that interested in a bunch of tourists/trekkers.
Kala Pattar, on the other hand, is well worth it. 5500m, once you've acclimatised, is very do-able for a fit trekker, and the views of Everest are spectacular!
Feb 3, 2013 2:46 AM
5I have trekked 4 times in the Everest region, and been to EBC twice.
I would recommend going to KP and EBC - after all if you are in the Everest region, then the extra time and cost of doing KP and EBC are minimal. Also you presumably don't want to feel that you are "so near, but so far away".
Altitude: the vast majority of people should be OK if they follow the guidelines and do not ascend too fast/soon. I have never even had a mild headache, despite going well over 5,000m many times, because I always ensure that I acclimatise carefully. The highest I have been, so far, is 5,833m. You will also feel much stronger and more alert etc, and hence enjoy the whole experience far more, if you acclimatise more slowly. This will also massively reduce the risk of you getting a serious respiratory infection, which ruins more treks than does AMS.
If you trek with an organised group, as most trekkers do, then the companies running the treks often cut the acclimatisation time to the very minimum required (to shorten the overall trek and increase their profits etc). As Scoodly said above, if you are trekking with an organised group, and have any doubts about their proposed itinerary, post it up for review by experienced trekkers. Bear in mind that an estimated 80% of AMS cases occur in organised groups, because of the need to stick to itineraries.
BTW I have never trekked in an organised group - it is not necessary, or in my view desirable. You can either trek completely independently, or, as I now do, hire a guide etc on a daily rate basis, where you have all the freedom of independent trekking (re itinerary, choice of lodges, what you spend on food, rest days etc etc) but the benefits of a guide. I also get on really well with my guide, and enjoy his company - I have now stayed 3 times inn his very non touristy village, something I really enjoyed.
Also bear in mind that October is peak trekking season, and the route to EBC from Lukla will be very busy.
Feb 3, 2013 7:03 AM
Feb 3, 2013 7:45 AM
7Thanks for all the replies and advice everyone. I would be very interested to see what you think of the itinerary, so here it is:
DAY 1 Join Kathmandu
DAY 2 In Kathmandu, sightseeing Kathmandu Valley
DAYS 3/4 Fly to Lukla, commence trek through Sherpa villages
DAYS 5/6 Arrive Namche Bazaar, rest and acclimatise with an optional walk to the pretty village of Khumjung
DAYS 7/8 Trek to Dingboche via Thyangboche Monastery
DAY 9 Rest and acclimatise in Dingboche
DAY 10 Slowly ascend through yak pastures to Khumbu Glacier
DAYS 11/12 Ascend Kala Pattar (5545m) to gain uninterrupted views of Everest (8848m) & trek to Everest Base Camp
DAYS 13/15 Return trek via Namche to Monjo
DAY 16 Return to Lukla
DAY 17 Fly Lukla to Kathmandu
DAY 18 In Kathmandu, trip concludes
It is with an organised group as I'm a lone female traveller and not brave enough to book solo I'm afraid :) my 'dream of a lifetime' as you put it wasn't necessarily base camp, but it is to see Everest so your advice on Kala Pattar is really useful. I know what you mean about touristy at peak times though. When I went to Peru I didn't do the classic inca trail because I'm not as keen on crowds. I was looking at an alternative trip of the Gokyo lakes with a trek up Gokyo Ri, here's the itinerary for that trip to see what you think:
DAY 1 Join Kathmandu
DAY 2 In Kathmandu, sightseeing Kathmandu Valley
DAY 3 Fly to Lukla, commence trek through Sherpa villages
DAYS 4/6 Arrive Namche Bazaar, rest and acclimatise, optional day walk to Khumjung
DAYS 7/10 Slowly ascend through Dole and Machermo to the serene Gokyo Lakes
DAY 11 Ascend Gokyo Ri (5483m) to view Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu
DAYS 12/13 Descend via Thyangboche Monastery to Deboche
DAYS 14/15 Return trek to Lukla via Namche
DAY 16 Fly Lukla to Kathmandu
DAY 17 In Kathmandu, trip concludes
Thanks again and sorry for the huge post!
Feb 3, 2013 1:33 PM
8The short answer is that both of those trips would be fantastic treks. Some years ago I did an independent trek that took in Gokyo Ri, Kala Pattar, and we also spent some time in a valley we called Chukhung Valley, with Island Peak at the end of it. It is all spectacular, and you can't make a wrong choice about where to go in the Everest region.
Perhaps the main difference with the two itineraries above is that Gokyo Ri will be a little quieter and less touristy. My memory is that the Gokyo region, and the trek in, is a more beautiful area than Kala Pattar, particularly walking around the lake on the way in. The views from Gokyo Ri are sublime - they are in every direction and you take in many peaks, (they are somewhat in the distance, I don't say this is a negative, just a difference). If you do this trek you will not regret it. Also, as it is slightly less touristy, my theory is that you meet a more interesting type of person along the way too!
Kala Pattar, on the other hand, will be busier and a bit more for the organised tourist. But the view you get of Everest from Kala Pattar is much closer and it is quite stunning! Kala Pattar is surrounded by other taller mountains so the view is not as far in every direction, and I would not say as spectacular per se as Gokyo Ri, but Everest is up close and they say on a clear day you can even see climbers, if there are any. When I was there we didn't see any though!
I note in both itineraries above, the relevant summit day is about 8 days after flying into Lukla. I am not an expert on acclimatisation, so I will not comment in any detail on this - but I agree with the comment above that the organised treks tend to push the time schedules and if you haven't acclimatised by summit day then it's too bad! 8 days seems just a little tight to me. You might be fine, but I could almost guarantee there will be some people in your group that will not summit.
It took me just a day or two longer to acclimatise than others. The first time I attempted to climb a 5500m peak, my friend summitted easily, I failed to summit and was very sick, went back down, had a day's rest then tried again and made it up no problems. That's how acclimatisation seems to work. It's just one of the risks of the organised tour that you don't have that luxury of a second attempt or taking an extra day to get ready.
Feb 4, 2013 1:00 AM
9Good reply (post no 7) from Acorn1. I have little to add, except to reiterate that the 2 itineraries look a bit tight, though not exceptionally so, and to do the walk from Namche on the "rest" day, as this greatly helps acclimatisation (more so than resting), and the walk itself is very good, and not tiring. Acclimatisation and suspectibility to respiratory illnesses both vary enormously - every time I have been trekking, a good percentage of the trekkers had quite bad colds - for quite a few this ruins their trek.
I also think that Gokyo valley is a bit nicer than the Khumbu valley, but all the various valleys are different, and all offer great trekking and views. Why not do both valleys, and others if you have time - you walk right past Chhukung valley if going to EBC.
The guide I trek with, and quite a few other guides, have trekked with solo female clients, though I understand the OP's concerns. There are some female guides - hopefully others can advise on this. There will be lots of other trekkers around in October - the trails will all be busy/very busy.
Feb 7, 2013 1:57 AM
10Definitely go. its one of the worlds premier treks and if you might not be back there for a while then why not do it. I trekked solo from Kathmandu to EBC and back and it was amazing. Its sad that the prettiest part of the trek around Shivalaya and Kinza are not visited by most as the flight to lukla is very tempting and of course for people with less time, absolutely necessary.
One thing that i didnt see anyone pick up on, make sure if you do visit EBC and you only have a night in Gorak shep, to trek to EBC when you arrive, or after an early lunch. I was very silly and left far too late and got lost on the icefall well into the evening, but if you leave Gorak shep by mid day you will be fine.
the only reason I say this, is that a lot of people trek kalla pathar when they arrive and then do EBC in the morning they leave, but i would say that kala patthar is a must trek in the early hours of the morning (start around 4am) so that you can get a sunrise over mt everest and then more chance of clear views from the top as by the afternoon the cloud often comes in (of course depending on the season - this was late may/early june).
there are not amazing views from EBC and i would rather give myself the best chance of great views on Kala Patthar rather than at ebc.
Mar 2, 2013 10:01 AM
11With reference to post #3 above by me, let me continue:
A friend of mine fell victim to high mountain sickness somewhere between Lobuje and Gorak Shep ca. mid Nov. 2012. He was heli-lifted to a Kathmandu hospital where, strangely enough, he was treated, not for high mountain sickness but for hypoglycemia (extreme low blood sugar condition) for about 4 days.
Now take a look at the mind boggling charges:
He was charged ~US$14,000 for the helicopter rescue. After much protest, this was reduced to US$10,000 based on a so-called "block time" of 4 hours assigned for Gorak Shep at US$2,500 per hour for the high season (mid-October - end of December).
The hospital bill came to about US$4,000 !
I believe these horrendously absurd and morally insane charges were made because the hapless trekker was covered by his Canadian government insurance.
The trekker told me he erred unwittingly when he told his guide at the outset he had Canadian government insurance, and he suspected he was deliberately worked into the hypoglycemic-induced unconsciousness from which he and his travel agency stood to gain, say, in the form of commissions.
Mar 2, 2013 10:04 AM
12Everest Base Camp Travel Insurance
Mar 2, 2013 2:12 PM
Mar 3, 2013 1:50 AM
14While waiting for Ric here's my view:
Both options are standard trekking days and are do-able. For the first, book into a lodge in Gorak Shep on the way up and leave your main pack there. For the second, many people choose a pre-dawn trek for the sunrise on KP then return to the lodge in GS for breakfast then continue to Lobuche - or bwyond you will know if you have enough energy and time to continue.
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