The Everest Base Camp trekking, the highest base camp adventure in the world at an elevation of 5,364 meters (5,364 meters) explores the foothills of the magnificent Himalayan range and the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest (8,849 meters). Although it this a lifelong dream of many trekking enthusiasts to traverse to the base of the tallest snow-clad natural wonder, this high-altitude adventure is not an easy feat. Everest Base Camp has been labeled as a ‘Moderately Difficult’ Himalayan adventure, however, assessing the difficulty level is not an easy task, so we are sharing that how difficult is Everest Base Camp Trek ? you have to consider several factors to determine the true difficulty level.
For instance, some may find it naturally easy to acclimatize to the rising altitude, trekking for long hours, or coping with the climatic change, but it doesn’t work like that for everyone. So, let’s discuss what contributes to the difficulty level of this truly exhilarating epic adventure to the Everest Base Camp, just 3,485 meters short of the summit of ‘Third Pole’.
How Difficult is Everest Base Camp Trek?- Difficulty Factors
Although the Everest Base Camp Trek is graded at a ‘Moderately Difficult’ level, it doesn’t mean the difficulty level of the adventure will be moderate in every aspect. Yes, there aren’t any technical segments on the trail of this epic journey, so you won’t need any prior high-altitude trekking experience or any kind of technical skills.
However, there are several factors that contribute to the overall Everest Base Camp Trek difficulty level. Let’s discuss some of the significant Everest Base Camp Trek difficulty factors in detail.
As this epic Himalayan journey leads you to the base of the tallest mountain in the world, the altitude gain is also quite significant. As it is hard for the human body to acclimatize to altitude over 2,500 meters, the risk of altitude sickness is pretty high in this Himalayan adventure as you spend a significant amount of time in altitudes over 3,000- 4,000 meters.
Starting your adventure from the gateway of Everest, Lukla (2,800 meters), you will pass through several elevation jump points like Namche Bazaar (3,440 meters), Doingboche (4,400 meters), Gorkashep (5,180 meters), and Everest Base Camp (5,364 meters) including the highest elevation point of the entire adventure, Kala Patthar at an altitude of 5,644 meters (18,519 feet). So you need to pay proper attention to how well your body is adapting to the rising environment and stay on the lookout for the symptoms of altitude sickness like headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, and shortness of breath.
The Everest Base Camp trekking takes part in the remote exploration of the Himalayas. In addition to rugged and off-road trails, the trekking distance can be physically vexing for unprepared trekkers.
In this spectacular Himalayan exploration, you will cover an approximate distance of 130km (80 miles), so you will be trekking for like 6-7 hours on average during each day of the trek. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but the long hours of trekking in the rising altitude is not an easy task. Experienced trekkers and people who are into sports or regular exercising may have some upper hand during the expedition, however, at the end of the day it all boils down to your strength, endurance, and stamina for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
It’s not new news the weather and climate have a significant impact when it comes to valuable and memorable adventures. Although the Everest Base Camp trek can be done every year, the off-season in Nepal like winter (December- February) and monsoon (June- August) can be quite challenging. For instance, the trekking routes are muddy and slippery due to the heavy rainfall, the lower trails are also covered with leeches which is really, especially if you are afraid of them. Similarly, the risk of landslides and road blockage is pretty high during this, so your itinerary plan may not move as per your anticipation.
As for winter, the climate is extremely harsh during this season followed by non-stop snowfall and freezing winter wind and blizzards. The trekking routes of the higher region are mostly covered in the snow so you will need to put in extra effort just to trek on the regular route. As for the food and accommodation, the teahouses along the route at the high altitudes are empty during the winter. The people in the higher regions migrate down to lower during the high winter time to escape the cold, so you are pretty much on your own.
Less Acclimatization Days
It may not seem like much of a deal when you are scrolling through the packages with shorter itinerary plans just because they are cheap. But, when it comes to actual adventure you will realize how important the acclimatization days are. They are so significant in high-altitude treks and expeditions that your Everest Base Camp Trek difficulty and the success rate is directly related to it.
The more number of days you have for acclimatization, the higher the success rate of your quest. The lack of enough acclimatization day, it will not only increase the probability of the failure rate but also expose you to the risk of altitude sickness, which sometimes can be even fatal. It is not possible to deal with the rising altitude, especially in the cold Himalayan region, if you don’t have enough rest time to properly adapt to it.
Even though the Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular outdoor adventures in the world and one of the mainstream trekking routes in Nepal. What you need to understand is, that it is still a remote exploration that takes place in the remote part of the Himalayan region in the country. So, if you are expecting the services and amenities of your exotic vacation destination, you might be disappointed.
Yes, there are luxurious trekking packages available in this mainstream trekking route and it is quite well developed than other trekking routes in the country. Still, it might be on par with the star services of the urban settlements. There are also no proper modes of transportation on this route health facilities, emergency evacuation internet, and other technological amenities are pretty much limited en route of this adventure.
If it’s the first time you are hearing about Khumbu Cough, you might be wondering how it is relevant to the Everest Base camp trek difficulty context. However, it is one of the challenging factors in this trek, many trekkers who were not well prepared or did not acclimatize properly to rising altitude suffer from this condition due to sudden exposure to the cold climatic condition and dry air as traversing to the heart of the Khumbu region.
That’s why in order to avoid catching the Khumbu Cough, trekkers are suggested to pack warm clothes, caps, and socks, especially for the higher altitude. Properly acclimatizing to rising altitude also helps to tackle this issue, mostly trekkers who are not rushing the adventure have a low probability of catching this cough. If you by any chance happen to catch Khumbu Cough it can last several weeks and even months depending on the exposure and your immunity.
How to Minimize Everest Base Camp Trek Difficulty?
Although the Everest Base Camp Trek difficulty factors can be challenging to some extent, it doesn’t mean that they are invincible. Here are a few helpful tips on how to minimize the difficulty level of Everest Base Camp Trek in this wonderful Himalayan adventure.
Undoubtedly, physical preparation is the best way to minimize the EBC Trek difficulty factors. With the right amount of training and preparation, not only you will have a more comfortable experience but it will also boost your confidence level more immersive and exhilarating experience. As you will be trekking on the remote off-road trails of the Himalayas with several steep sections it is recommended that you should enhance your leg strength to endure the long hours of walking.
Working out on your overall strength, endurance, and stamina aspects will help you greatly during this epic quest. Further, the acclimatization process also becomes more effective if you have done an adequate amount of physical training. Here are some exercises you can include in your training program to reduce the overall difficulty level of the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Strength and Endurance Training
- Bicep curl
- Bench press
- Overhead press
- Leg press
- Calf raises
- Hammer curl
- Pull up
- Jumping rope
- Jumping lunges
- Power walking
Note: It is recommended that you should start your physical preparation at least 8-12 weeks prior to the actual adventure, this way your body will get accustomed to the physical activity and enhance your recovery period. Doing practice hikes on the natural landscape carrying a backpack with weight will also be quite effective during the actual trek.
When it comes to preparing for any Himalayan trekking or expedition, the first priority goes towards physical preparation which of course is an absolute necessity. But, you also shouldn’t overlook the mental preparation factor. By mental we don’t mean practicing to move rocks with your telepathic ability during your expedition. You just have to be prepared for several factors of this expedition and stay motivated to complete this expedition. For instance, your expectations of the accommodation and food services might not be like what you expect in your luxurious getaway vacation, same for the other amenities and technological services. Here are some mental preparation factors you could focus on during your training period.
- Practice controlled breathing
- Focussed mediation
- Leave your comfort zones
- Stay positive
- Stress-reducing exercises
- Don’t have higher expectations
- Visualize movements
- Always stay focussed
- Identify fears
- Positive self-talk
Choosing the Right Season
Picking the right season for this high-altitude adventure will not only make it a more relaxing and immersive trekking adventure, but you will also feel content with the overall expedition and reduce the Everest Base Camp Trek Difficulty. Unlike the off-season without clear views, challenging trails, and of course, bothersome climatic conditions, the peak seasons in Nepal like spring (March– May) and autumn (September– November) are known as the most favorable months for this trekking adventure. The weather is stable during these peak seasons with clear days, dry walking trails, and a warmer climate.
Spring, in particular, is known as the blooming season, you will be able to traverse across the lush green trails decorated with colorful wildflowers. If you are lucky you might also catch a glimpse of the endangered Himalayan flora and fauna that are most active during this season. The temperature of the Everest region averages around 15° C during the day and can drop upto -5° C at nighttime in the spring season.
As for the autumn season which is known as the best season for Himalayan adventure, it welcomes the guest with the most perfect temperature, lush terrain, and simply magnificent wide Himalayan vistas on a clear day. The temperature of the region averages around 14°C the daytime and drops up to minus degrees at the higher altitude. As the latter part of the autumn season gets closer to the winter, the temperature starts to get colder with occasional snowfall, so you are recommended to pack wisely.
Stay Hydrated and Enjoy a Paced Adventure
You will also hear this often from your guide and the expedition leader, the Himalayan adventures in Nepal are designed for a slow-paced exploration. So, what you need to understand is that it is not a race or marathon, you will not only exert yourself by rushing the trek but will also make it hard for your body to properly adapt to the rising altitude increasing the risk of altitude sickness. Just, take it slow, try to relish this once-in-a-lifetime journey, and follow the guidance of your trek guide.
Also, you are recommended to drink at least 3- 4 liters of water per day throughout the expedition, it is very significant to reduce the chances of altitude sickness. Plus, you will sweat a lot during the long days of exhausting treks so drinking enough water will balance your body’ overall fluid level, reducing chances of muscle breakdown and heatstroke as well.
Eat Healthy and Take Care of Your Hygiene
As Everest base camp trekking takes you to remote exploration of the Himalayas leading you to the heart of the Khumbu region, you need to be very careful about eating right and taking care of your personal hygiene. There are a very limited number of health facilities along the trail and if you get severely sick, the only rescue method is via helicopter flight, which of course doesn’t come cheap. There are no proper modes of transportation facilities on this trek, so helicopter rescue is the only way, make sure that you are packing enough toiletries and sanitization items to take care of your personal hygiene. Sanitizing handwash, wipes, water purifying solution or tablets, feminine hygiene products, and a first aid kit with basic medication should be at the top of your packing list. In addition, if you are using any kind of personal medication make sure to make enough that will last throughout the trek.
Similarly, it is also very crucial to eat healthy and eat right, an unbalanced diet or consuming alcohol during this high-altitude adventure will not only aid the discomfort factors of day-to-day adventure but also hinder your acclimatization process. And it is natural to feel a loss of appetite as the altitude of your trek increases, in such case, you need to force yourself first few bites then your body will slowly start accepting the food, unlike healthy fresh food, packaged food doesn’t have much nutritious value.
Get Customized or Right Package
This is quite helpful when it comes to reducing the overall difficulty level of the Everest Base Camp trekking, especially if you are completely newbie to the high-altitude adventure or traveling with family with elders and children. So, what happens in a fully customizable package is that you will able to set the adventure at your own pace, you don’t have to stick to a fixed itinerary and can enjoy the exploration as you see fit. Although it can be slightly expensive, it will be certainly worth it if you are traveling with the family, you will be able to set the number of acclimatization days, how long you want your exploration to be, or just emphasize the region you want to explore the most.
Furthermore, you can also hire any number of porters to make the experience more comfortable and decide which teahouses you want to stay at. Even if you are buying a fixed package with set itineraries, it would be wise to go for the longer trekking package, the exploration isn’t rushed in the longer package and you will also get enough acclimatization and rest days to replenish and recharge your lost energy at several stop points.
Find the Right Clothes and Gears
If you are an experienced trekker, you know how important the right equipment during high-altitude trekking can make the experience more convenient. Depending on the weather conditions you need to pack the right clothes and right gear, however, you are still recommended to pack lightly for your trekking adventure and reduce the difficulty level of Everest Base Camp Trek. The porters to trekkers ratio is 2:1; one porter for two trekkers, so you will most likely have to carry your own luggage too during this Himalayan adventure.
Here are some suggestions on the recommended pack list for your Everest Base Camp trekking adventure.
- Hat (sun hat, knit, and wool hat)
- Scarf, neck gaiter, and bandana
- Neck gaiter
- Tshirt (sleeveless, full)
- Puff down jacket
- Lightweight jacket (windproof, waterproof)
- Insulated jacket
- Gloves(multiple layers for several climatic zones)
- Short and hiking pants
- Thermal trousers, heavy trousers (for colder regions)
- Undergarments (several pairs)
- Hiking or trekking boots
- Training or sports shoes (for side exploration)
- Slippers or crocks (for comfortable switch at the teahouses)
- Socks (with several thickness levels)
- Waterproof gaiter (optional)
Personal Hygiene and Toiletries
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and nail clippers
- Lip balm
- Towels (quick dry)
- Soaps, shampoo and conditioner
- Sunblock cream, lotion
- Toilet paper, face wipes
- Foot powder
- Hygiene products
- First aid kit
- Hygiene products
- First aid kit
- Anyer personal medications (enough to last throughout the trek)
- Sunglasses (UV protection)
- Water bottle
- Trekking poles and ankle support
- Waterproof bags
- Stuff sacks
- Sleeping bags
- Entertainment set
- Portable charger
- Extra pair of batteries and solar charger
- Magazines, books
- Journals and pen
Note: If you are buying the equipment in Kathmandu, make sure to check the quality and build of the products instead of going for the cheap products. You are also recommended to carry a few extra copies of your passport and photo along the trekking expedition. As for the cash, there are no banking and ATM facilities available during the trek, so you are recommended to change it into local currency and carry enough to estimate the total expenses on snacks, or souvenirs.
Is Everest Base Camp Trek Right for Me?
Considering the Everest Base Camp Trek difficulty level and difficulty factors of the Everest Base Camp expedition that takes you to the highest base camp in the world, it is natural to wonder, if it is an ideal choice for you or not. As it is a moderately difficult expedition, you won’t need any prior trekking experience or any sort of technical skills, with adequate preparation and training even a complete beginner can complete this trekking adventure. However, you need to have at least a basic level of fitness and good health condition, in case, if you have any kind of medical condition, you can just consult your physician and guide about this epic expedition.
As for the age factors, there isn’t actually an age restriction in the Everest Base Camp Trek, as in the past even the elderly trekkers over the age of 70 and children below the age of 10 have successfully completed this trek. Still, if you are looking for a full family exploration, you can opt out for the customizable package and enjoy the adventure at your own pace without the need to follow the specified itinerary exerting yourself.
You may also like: