08 August 2009

Trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp, Regional Highlights, Experience and Equipment Required and Total Cost

A trek to Mount Everest remains a dream for many, and achieving the summit of the highest mountain in the world will always be the ultimate prize for experienced mountaineers. Standing at 8,848 metres above sea level, Everest defeated attempts from climbers for over thirty years until Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made it to the top in 1953. Since then, several thousand people have made it to the summit; but the skills required, the danger of the climb and the considerable expense of an Everest expedition put a trip to the top of the mountain out of the reach of most people. Treks to Everest Base Camp, however, continue to grow in popularity, giving travellers to this region an unforgettable glimpse of the world's highest
Everest Base Camp
Contrary to popular perception, there are in fact two Everest Base Camps that Everest expeditions can set off from: the South camp in Nepal (5,360 metres) and the North camp in Tibet (5,208 metres). At both of them, mountaineers preparing to attempt the summit stay to acclimatise to the altitude and wait for favourable weather conditions before leaving to make an attempt on the summit. The South camp tends to be the more commonly used by Everest expeditions for practical reasons – the southern ridge is the easier and safer route to the summit, and climbing from the Tibetan side requires a special visa from China.
To see and visit one of these Everest Base Camps is to step onto the stage of mountaineering history – the world's greatest climbers have passed through the camps at one point or another in search of their moment of glory.
Regional Highlights
As well as the awe inspiring views of Everest itself and the historical significance of seeing Everest Base Camp, treks to this region typically take in several other summits and sights. Most treks to Everest Base Camp will follow the classic route from Lukla, through pretty Sherpa villages and dramatic high mountain scenery, whilst other Everest Base Camp treks will follow a longer route to Everest, giving the opportunity to retrace the steps of the great explorers all the way from Jiri to the Base Camp itself. Other trekking routes in this region can also include a visit to the spectacular Gokyo Lakes, a series of high altitude lakes that offer breathtaking views out over the region.
Almost all Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal will include an ascent of nearby Kala Pattar (5,545 metres), which offers great views down over the base camp and up to Everest itself.
Experience and Equipment Required
Trekking to Everest Base Camp does not require mountaineering experience. The walking though is challenging due to the terrain and the altitude. Organised trips should give visitors time to acclimatise to the altitude. Although altitude sickness is unpredictable and affects different people in different ways, simple precautions can minimise the chance of experiencing this. Previous experience of high level trekking is not a requirement for an Everest Base Camp trek, just a good general level of fitness and a spirit of adventure.
Tour operators will be able to provide a more complete list of the equipment required for individual treks, but a good waterproof jacket, clothes that will provide sufficient warmth at high altitudes, sunglasses and good quality walking boots will be a bare minimum. The cost of a trek varies from company to company but, due to the distances covered in a typical trek, and the need to gradually acclimatise to the altitude, a complete trip will take around three weeks and usually costs between £1,900 and £2,500, including flights.
Everest Base Camp has been drawing in walkers and climbers for years, and it remains an essential destination for the trekking enthusiast – spectacular scenery, challenging walking and a once in a lifetime chance to stand beside the highest mountain in the world.
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