What is the first thought that comes to your mind when someone mentions trekking the Everest base camp in January? You might think that person is out of their mind, for who treks the Himalayan foothills in the middle of the winter season right?
Wrong! With proper preparation and extra protective gear, the Everest base camp trek in January is absolutely doable. Every year a small number of adventurers take this adventurous trek in the month of January. And you thought it was impossible to trek the Everest region in January?
Well, I certainly don’t blame you for thinking so. It is quite obvious that the Everest region is going to be frigid in January, but there are various preventive measures you can take to cope with the cold weather. Besides, the Everest region looks its best at this time of the year.
There are important factors that you need to consider before you head out on this exciting trek. Read further for detailed information about the trek including the weather, difficulty level, and various tips regarding the trek.
You might be interested to know: Everest Base Camp Trek Package
Highlights of The Trek
- Trekking in a solitary environment
- Enjoying the luxurious facilities of the teahouses, lodges at a bargain price
- Walk at your own pace without any hassle
- Panoramic sunrise view from Kala Patthar
- Clear, unobstructed view of the mountains
- Walking through the UNESCO listed world heritage site Sagarmatha National Park
- Picturesque views of the snow-capped mountains, including Mt. Everest, Mt Ama Dablam, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse and others
- Experiencing the incredible hospitality of the local Sherpa community
- Exploring the Buddhist religious culture and heritage
The Weather Around Everest Base Camp in January
January is the coldest month in the Everest region. The temperature at Mt. Everest base camp (5380m) averages at around -17°C. There is also the added risk of hurricane-force winds along with the harsh cold. However, these winds only pose a threat to the mountaineers summiting Mt. Everest and not so much to the trekkers.
On an average minimum temperature is around -14 degree Celsius, whereas the maximum temperature is about 2 degree Celsius. Another factor that you may experience is a considerable fluctuation in temperature between day and night around the Everest region in January.
The sun shines for 5-7 hours a day in January around the Everest Region. You can trek with ease in warm conditions as the temperatures rise up a bit after sunshine. The wind speed, on the other hand, blows heavily at the rate of 8-12 mph.
Having said that, the weather is extremely unpredictable in the region. Sudden weather changes like blizzards, and wind chill can trouble you but it also adds an element of adventure in the trek.
The temperature of different places along the Everest Base Camp trek:
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Why Trek Everest Base Camp in January?
Clear, bright skies and breathtaking views
The clear, bright skies welcome you along the trail to Everest Base Camp trek in January. You can observe the breathtaking view of the snow-capped mountains.
The chilly winds blow away all the winds providing unobstructed views of the mountain range. The Everest region looks the most beautiful during this season. The winter landscapes will take your breath away with its beauty.
Lesser trekkers and empty trails
The month of January sees considerably fewer tourists owing to the offseason. The trails are practically empty, so you can enjoy your trek in a quaint environment. You can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views and spend more time at the Himalayas without any hassle.
Everest region gets overcrowded during the peak season, and the tea houses and lodges are almost always full. You will have to share everything from rooms, beds, chargers, and others. But during the off-season, you can enjoy your stay conveniently with no sharing required.
The Everest Base Camp trek during the offseason comes with fantastic offers perfect for a budget traveler. The prices of accommodation and other facilities get reduced by more than half. You will also get taken care of more as there will be fewer tourists. So, for a budget backpacker trekking the Everest region in January is ideal.
Food and Accommodation
You can enjoy the facilities provided at the tea houses and lodges like warm beds, fuzzy blankets, hot water, hot meals at a fraction of the original price. The Everest region becomes quiet, and the bustling environment changes into a more peaceful environment.
You won’t have to share a room, charger, or a bathroom. Furthermore, hot showers and warm heaters will be at your disposal at any time of the day. You can have healthy and nutritious meals at any time. The nutritious meal keeps you energized for the trek. Overall, the food and accommodation facilities are not compromised during the Everest base camp trek in January.
Trekking Trails for the Everest Base Camp Trek in January
You might have only heard about the Everest Base Camp Trek from Lukla as it is quite popular among trekkers. However, the trekking routes are not limited to this traditional route, and there are multiple treks that you can choose from, and each course has its own specialty.
The EBC trail starts as soon as you land on Lukla after an adventurous flight from Kathmandu and then passes along the settlements of Phakding, Namche, Dingboche, Lobuche, Gorakshep, and Everest Base Camp respectively before taking the same route back.
The Cho la and Renjo la pass trail assures added adventure as it passes through surreal landscapes and mountain passes along the trail. The Gokyo-EBC trail, on the other hand, takes you through the pristine Gokyo lakes. These routes are challenging compared to the classic route but equally rewarding in terms of its beauty.
There is also the option to trek the old school Jiri-EBC trail, which was first used by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their expedition to Mt Everest. The trail is suitable for those who want to skip the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and start their trek from Jiri instead. There are lots of options to choose from, and you can select the best one based on your desire and requirements.
What makes Everest Base Camp Trek Difficult in January?
I have already talked about the weather and temperature during the month of January. So, cold is major difficulty while trekking in January. If you can bear the cold then you will not have that much difficult.
The challenging trek moves along the foothills of the Himalayas and involves walking for 5-8 hours a day on an average for 12-14 days. The trail is well-marked, and anyone with a decent level of fitness can successfully complete this trek. The high altitude trek moves along the elevation level of 4000m and more at all times.
Along with the rise in elevation, the temperature, oxygen levels, and air pressure drop to a bare minimum. These factors increase the risk of Altitude sickness, and you will have a tough time breathing in such high altitude conditions. However, with proper acclimatization and, regular hydration, you can cope with the problem of altitude sickness.
Expert trekkers recommend climbing no more than 600m in elevation at any given trekking day. The Everest base camp trek does not require any technical skills, but if you take the alternate Cho la Pass and Renjo la pass route, you will have to walk on an icy glacier. The Cho la and Renjo la pass trail and the Gokyo lake trail takes a couple of days more than the classic trek.
Read more at EBC Trek Difficulty
Tips for Everest Base Camp Trek in January
Increase your diet intake
One of the most crucial aspects of trekking in cold conditions is to increase your diet intake than regular days. This step is essential because your body will burn more calories to cope with the cold.
You should have food that is high in carbohydrates and protein, and make sure you do not sleep on an empty stomach. Studies have found that this process also helps you to cope with the altitude sickness.
Acclimatize and hydrate regularly
Your body adapts to the fast-changing conditions through the process of acclimatization. Regular uphill and downhill trek at a steady pace helps you cope with the altitude sickness.
Also, increase the level of your water intake as water is a great healing agent. The process of regular water intake increases the oxygen in your body and helps you tackle altitude sickness.
Get Proper training
You should start your training regime at least two weeks prior to the start of the Everest Base Camp trek. Physical fitness and stamina is an important aspect that you must consider seriously before trekking the Everest region. The trekkers should focus on Cycling, swimming, and other cardiovascular activities.
Pack your gears and clothes adequately
Since you will be traveling mid-winter, you need to do is pack very heavy. You need to carry a lot of protective warm clothes and dress in layers. What dressing in layers does is that it traps the air between the clothes which then acts as insulators to protect you from the cold weather.
So it is much better to dress in layers than to wear a large jacket to cope with the cold. Please carry extra sleeping bags as the blankets in the lodges, and tea houses might not be enough.
Since you might experience snowfall also pack a trekking pole that helps you guide along with the snow. There is other important stuff you need to pack like trekking clothes, shoes, toiletries, sunscreen, etc.
Start your trek early
Start your trek as soon as the sun shines. This step makes your trek pleasant as sun rays warm up the trail, and you can arrive at your destination by afternoon.
There is also a risk of unexpected snowfall so you will need to complete the trek very cautiously and as soon as possible. By starting early, you can reach your destination safe and sound.
Do not travel alone/ hire a guide
Since you will be traveling in the offseason, you are not advised to travel alone. Always hire a local hide so that you can access the trail easily and will not get lost.
The guide will also help you understand the culture and tradition of the local Sherpa people. Furthermore, you can also hire a porter that carries your luggage during the trek.
Get your necessary Permits
TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) permit is an essential permit for any trekking activity in Nepal. However, you do not require the TIMS permit if you have a local permit. The local permits get issued at Monjo, Chubu region for a fee of USD 20, and you can also get the permit in the Nepal tourism board office in Kathmandu.
The permits need registration at the local office and are also checked at several checkpoints around the region. The permit issued at the Sagarmatha National Park costs you about USD 30, with added government tax.
There is another permit issued that is the Gauri Shankar National Park Permit at Shivalaya checkpoint at the cost of USD 20. However, this permit is optional and only required if you want to skip the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and start your trek from Jiri instead
Get a Travel insurance
You should not miss on getting a travel insurance. These travel insurances give you coverage in case of accidents, injuries and flight cancellation at all times. Some Injuries might also require helicopter evaluation, and the helicopter evacuation might cost around $5000 to $10000.
So, do not forget to get yourself a travel insurance. Make sure the travel insurance covers all these factors mentioned above and also flight delays and cancellation, which is quite common in the region.
Protect yourself from the harsh sun
The sun is very harsh in the Himalayas. The white snow on the mountains reflect 80% of the sun, and there is a chance that you will get sunburned! Trekkers typically apply SPF sunscreen every 2-3 hours during the trek.
There are Special hiking sunglasses to protect you from the scorching sun. Furthermore, you will also need a sun hat that makes your trekking experience pleasant.
Find more tips here
The Items You Need to Pack for the EBC in January
As you will be trekking in the middle of the winter season, you should be ready to pack heavy. It will be quite cold at night, and warm clothes and other gears must be in place to safeguard you from frostbite. Make sure you pack warm insulating clothes that keeps the winter chill away.
The list of items that you need for the Everest Base Camp Trek in January are:
- Trekking trousers
- Trekking Poles
- Waterproof trekking shoes
- Trekking tops
- Warm Down Jacket
- Fleece jackets
- Insulating gloves
- Large backpack (60l)
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bags
- Toiletries (soap, shampoo, tissues, wet wipes, Moisturizers, sanitizers, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
- Sunscreen, sun hats, and ski goggles
- Water Bottles and water purifying tablets or purifiers
- Woolen hats and gloves
- Traditional Maps/ Google maps
Even though January lies in the middle of a Himalayan winter, the Everest Base Camp trek in January is still doable. Moreover, the view of the mountains from the cloud-free skies is extra special.
The conditions are definitely going to be colder, but with an adequate amount of warm clothes and gears, the trek of the Everest Base Camp in January can be a pleasant experience.
Furthermore, you can enjoy the facilities of your stay at your accommodation at half the price as there will be a lesser number of trekkers at this time of the year. Overall, the Everest Base Camp Trek in January is perfect for adventure seekers and budget travelers.