Everest Base Camp trek

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Everest Base Camp trek

Postby Dutchy » Sun 16 Nov, 2014 9:49 pm

Hi guys,
I came back last week from my Everest Base Camp Trek! How awesome that was!!!!
During my preparations I got good and bad advice, so I've decided to mention a few things for those that are thinking of doing the same or similar trek....
I did the guest house trek, an organised tour by Himalayan Social Journey. 11 Aussies in the group, 16 day tour of which 12 were on the trek.
Gear:
You're in the mountains, so despite people saying "it's warm that time of year", take your mountain gear! Wet weather gear (gore-tex pants, jacket, gaitors, hat, boots), warm gear (2 pairs of good thermals, insulated jacket, beanie, buff, good warm gloves), shorts, good sunnies!, a large day pack (40 - 50 L), a pack liner for in the duffel bag to put your "overnight" stuff in, a warm sleeping bag (-9 degrees should do), a sleeping bag liner (sea to summit reactor just in case), 2 nalgene bottles, steripen or purifying tablets, spare batteries..... I walked in 25 degrees at the start of the trek, but Kalapattar was about -10 degrees.... You see, be prepared for anything!
Buying gear is easy in KAthmandu, it's cheap but don't expect it to last.... it might do the trick for the trip though. Insulated stuff is pretty good there, but don't believe the gore-tex labels unless you're buying at one of the genuine shops..... But their stuff is more expensive than here in Australia. For those that have forgotten things, don't worry, Namsche Bazar has 4 excellent genuine shops. Shop around and pay cash ;-)
Food:
The food everywhere was great, we had brekky included and paid for lunch and dinner. If you love a good coffee, bring it with you from home or Kathmandu. Snacks get expensive past Namsche Bazar, so get it in Kathmandu or in Namsche if you don't want to take too much weight on the plane. Snickers bars go from 70 to 500 rs between Namsche and Gorakshep! Buy satchels of electrolytes for in your water, and multivitamins or beroccas.
Coffee:
Conflicting stories online tell you not to drink coffee as it is a diuretic, but others say is stimulates the heart and has other benefits. We all drank coffee, although we limited it to breakfast.
Drugs:
stock up! Diamox, paracetamol, ibuprofen, cypro, immodium, anti nausea wafers, doxy cycline, have it all there just in case! Don't be a hero! If you need it, take it! I started taking Diamox at 4400 m, after starting headaches. In the end I was the only one to reach Kalapattar. And 6 of the 7 to make it to Base Camp ended up taking it. 1 guy that held off despite needing Diamox ended up having to go down at 5000m and didnt make base camp....
Porters:
To those thinking (like a few of us too) that carrying your own pack is more rewarding, think again! Having your overnight gear carried leaves you with more energy and a more enjoyable walk, plus you are providing jobs for the locals.
Water:
Purify all your water, or buy mineral water in sealed bottles. prices will go from 80 RS in Lukla to 350 rs in Gorakshep.
Money:
How much you'll spend on the trek depends on many things.... how much you eat, if you want shower, wifi, charge phones, if you purify or buy water etc. Some said US $ 300 is enough, but I probably spend US $ 400 - 450. I used wifi a couple of times, charged my phone a couple of times, no showers, lots and lots of food! Namsche Bazar has 2 ATM's, or take it from Kathmandu. Take plenty, as you don't want to run out of money!!!!
Mobile phones
I bought an NCell sim for the trip, and had reception at Phakding, Namsche, Tengboche and Gorakshep. In between only sporadically. No one I knew has a Namaste sim, so i can't compare the two....
Fitness:
The trek itself to me wasnt all that hard, good general fitness and endurance should get you there. The altitude is what will get you....and you can't train for that!!!!

Well, thats all I can think of for now.... Its an awesome trek and well worth the effort!!!!
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby DanShell » Mon 17 Nov, 2014 11:18 am

Very good info Dutchy, well done and thanks for sharing to those that are lucky enough to get over there and get some altitude under their feet :)
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby icefest » Mon 17 Nov, 2014 2:44 pm

Were you up there when cyclone Hudhud hit?
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby radson » Thu 27 Nov, 2014 10:21 pm

Transparency alert. My very good friend and climbing partner Pete runs trips to EBC. In the attached link both my sister and I make an appearance. We took a group to EBC a year ago and made a mini documentary of the trip. Pete Wells plans to run these trips yearly and make a doco for all his clients.

http://youtu.be/FnzeKKAQAM4
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Thu 27 Nov, 2014 10:59 pm

Radson, a question for you regular climbers. Being a frequent high altitude visitor, do you find that you can better predict how you'll acclimatise to the altitude on successive trips?
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby horsecat » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 10:23 am

Having been up high quite a few times I feel that I know how my body reacts at certain heights and if I stick to my acclimatisation routine (drinking heaps of water and slowly ascend in stages plus a few other things) I'm confident that I shouldn't have any major issues. It's weird, I've seen some people struggle for three or four days at 4,000m whereas others (which thankfully includes me) don't even have nausea, headaches etc at 7,500m. Things get funky for most climbers once above that though. Having said all of that HAPE / HACE can strike down climbers who have been on many high altitude expeditions (think Hillary) for no apparent reason. If I ever am unlucky enough to get either of those I most likely won't go back to altitude (that's if I even survive those conditions in the first place) as I believe if you have had them before, you are most susceptible. So yes, I think with successive trips you acclimatise better as you understand the process better and what needs to be done, but I don't think repeated trips help to physically train the body for heights
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 10:49 am

Thanks for the insight.
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Everest Base Camp trek

Postby RonK » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 12:10 pm

horsecat wrote:I think with successive trips you acclimatise better as you understand the process better and what needs to be done, but I don't think repeated trips help to physically train the body for heights

This!

Absolutely right, that's my experience too, although I do start getting headaches above 4000m and start taking a half tab of Diamox per day above that altitude.

You also learn how best to manage your levels of exertion and hydration.
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby horsecat » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 12:38 pm

It's interesting, Diamox seems to be pretty popular but for myself I've never considered it. I prefer to take some extra time if need be to ensure that the body is acclimatised properly as I think that gives me the best chance to summit and survive. If one needs it to keep ascending it could be an issue. Plus I think for people who haven't tested themselves up high Diamox could give a false sense of security and thus not understand their body and what is happening; for me there's absolutely no shortcuts at altitude. It's a balancing act between being paranoid and being careless when you first go to these heights. Nothing against the stuff, just not for me. You're right about managing exertion & hydration Ron. I tend to drink over 20 cups of tea a day on an expedition and aim for gin clear pee as a guide. I've seen marathon runners and armed servicemen struggle at these heights as they tend to go gung-ho and pop
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 12:45 pm

Out of interest, how much difference in aerobic capacity (or simply physical performance) is there b/n local sherpas and fit visiting climbers of comparable age who aren't suffering altitude issues? Do the locals still have an edge when going uphills?
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby horsecat » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 2:08 pm

Yep, Sherpas do have the edge that's for sure. Obviously being born there and growing up at altitudes in excess of 3,500m helps. Permanent acclimatisation! I've often wondered how good athletes they would be at lower elevations. But it is hard to compare them to us as they are also most likely a lot fitter due to their constant load carrying etc and maybe agricultural activities in the off seasons. One thing I've noticed with them is they often stick to a rhythm and don't take big long strides when going uphill. In other words most don't take walking for granted as we westerners often will. It's not unusual to see a Sherpa carrying a load while playing a flute or chugging down on a durrie. It's worth noting that not all Nepalese are Sherpas (originally Tibetans who crossed into Nepal a few hundred years ago and live down the valley from Everest in the Khumbu district). Many Nepalese are from elevations of around 1,500m (Kathmandu) and might not be as adept at altitude as the others. I have seen Sherpas and also Pakastani people who live quite high get struck down by HAPE/HACE so they aren't immune from altitude sicknesses and I've also seen the occasional slow, fat, unfit Sherpa. I've found once I am sufficiently acclimated that I keep up with them easily, but the question is how fast could they go if they wanted to? I did have a running race with one up a hill with day packs on at 4,000m. I lost, then fell flat on my face
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 2:37 pm

Pick your opponent better next time! Good story though. :)

Yes, I am aware that the Sherpas form a separate group. I also wondered how quickly they'll lose their altitude adaptation should they come down to sea level. All very interesting.
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby horsecat » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 3:05 pm

I've often thought the same thing about Sherpas and how long they would stay acclimated. Should stuff one in my pack and bring him back next time to find out - could be quite handy too. Fitness wise I usually feel really good for a few months after a high altitude trip and float up most hills in that time, however some say the effects disappear within six weeks upon return to sea level. As you probably know acclimatisation is the body making more red blood cells to carry the extra required oxygen etc (lots of scientific stuff an the web about this) so I would assume that if this is not required then Sherpas would be similar to us. But those extra red cells thicken the blood and increase the risk of strokes (hence some mountaineers take an Aspirin each day to thin their blood out).
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 3:17 pm

EPO is calling...
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby horsecat » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 3:27 pm

I have asked my GP about the EPO at altitude - he doesn't recommend it. I think he said it could raise my blood pressure or something like that. Can't remember exactly but he did say it could kill me. The American climber, Ed Viesters, says in one of his books that he carries (or carried) amphetamines in case he needed to get a client moving - BUT I'M NOT ADVOCATING THIS AT ALL!

Just found some notes that I've had for a while. Sorry, not sure where on the web they came from, and whilst it doesn't answer your question it does have some interesting points.

"...The percentage of oxygen in the air at two miles (3.2 km.) is essentially the same as at sea level (21%). However, the air pressure is 30% lower at the higher altitude due to the fact that the atmosphere is less dense--that is, the air molecules are farther apart.

There is considerable variability between individuals and between populations in their ability to adjust to the environmental stresses of high mountain regions. Usually, the populations that are most successful are those whose ancestors have lived at high altitudes for thousands of years. This is the case with some of the indigenous peoples living in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia as well as the Tibetans and Nepalese in the Himalaya Mountains. The ancestors of many people in each of these populations have lived above 13,000 feet (ca. 4000 meters) for at least 2,700 years.
The implication is that natural selection over thousands of years results in some populations being genetically more suited to the stresses at high altitude. However, different populations respond physiologically to low oxygen pressure in somewhat different ways. The primary solution of Indians from the high mountain valleys in Peru and Bolivia has been to produce more haemoglobin in their blood and to increase their lung expansion capability. Both result in an increase of oxygen carried by the blood. In contrast, the common solution of Tibetans and Nepalese who live at high altitudes generally has been to breathe faster in order to take in more oxygen and to have broader arteries and capillaries, thereby allowing much higher rates of blood flow and subsequently greater amounts of oxygen delivered to their muscles, despite the fact that they have relatively normal hemoglobin levels. A recent study of Tibetan villagers who live their lives at around 15,000 feet has shown that they have 10 oxygen-processing genes not commonly found in lowland populations. The EPAS1 gene is particularly important in adapting to environments with consistently low oxygen pressure."
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 5:08 pm

EPO certainly has been implicated in the death of some cases in the endurance athletes community, but I wouldn't say it's dangerous when administered with medical supervision with limits to the haematocrit level. Without the supervision, excess can certainly induce numerous complications from strokes to heart attack to pulmonary embolism amongst others. But given haematocrit is but only one indicator of altitude adaptation, it's certainly not the single magic bullet to conquer Mt Everest. There's far more to this adaptation.
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Everest Base Camp trek

Postby RonK » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 7:06 pm

GPSGuided wrote:Out of interest, how much difference in aerobic capacity (or simply physical performance) is there b/n local sherpas and fit visiting climbers of comparable age who aren't suffering altitude issues? Do the locals still have an edge when going uphills?

Actually there are Sherpas and there are sherpas. The first are an ethnic group, the second are guides, but - sherpas do not carry loads, that is the work of lowly porters.

Winner of the Everest Marathon - a pretty impressive performer with a definite edge.
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Namche Bazaar, May 2003 - the 50th anniversary of the first ascent.
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby icefest » Tue 02 Dec, 2014 7:31 pm

Important side-note:

Sherpa acclimatization does not feature an increase in haematocrit (red blood cell and haemoglobin amount in blood). This is the suspected reason that stroke rates in sherpa populations are lower than those native to the high Peruvian Andes.
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Re: Everest Base Camp trek

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 02 Dec, 2014 9:22 pm

Where do I click that "Like"?
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