Solo traveller Jen Lowthrop has spent the last couple of months exploring and volunteering in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. During that time she completed the tough yet rewarding trek to Everest Base Camp, despite being a little underprepared!
The tallest mountain in England is only 978m and I haven’t even climbed it! So what made me think I could climb over five times that height to Everest Base Camp I have no idea! But we do these things… for the adventure, the sense of achievement, the memories… and believe me it was well worth it for these reasons and many others.
The best time to trek to Everest Base Camp is either April to June or October to November when the weather isn’t too cold or wet. My friends and I booked our trek for mid May in January giving us 5 months to start our intensive training course … or at least that was the plan.
Training was meant to include, twice monthly weekend hiking around the UK, three times weekly seven mile walks to work and a weekly Army Boot Camp in Highbury park. In reality my training consisted of two weekend hiking trips; one a winter snow skills weekend in Scotland (which I highly recommend) and the other a day hiking along the coast in Yorkshire. I made it twice to Army Boot Camp and I walked to work about 6 times … give or take!
To say I wasn’t prepared seemed like an understatement, but despite my lack of exercise … I did it! I trekked 150km, to a height of 5550m, reached Everest Base Camp and made it back again! If I can do it, you most definitely can too!
There were 7 people in my trekking group plus 2 guides and three Sherpa’s (the Nepali men who carried our backpacks). I got lucky in having a really great group to trek with, we were all of a similar fitness level (except I was generally always at the back). We had a laugh keeping ourselves entertained on the long afternoons and evenings in the lodges in the mountains, where there was little more to do than play cards and come up with ingenious ways to handle the cold.
The trek generally takes between 10 and 14 days, with a couple of acclimatisation days on the way up (which involves trekking up but then back down again to get your body used to the altitude) and a relaxing/party day on the way down. The average day would involve waking up at 6am for a quick breakfast before setting off up the mountain. We would walk until about 2pm with regular water and rest stops before arriving at our next check point for lunch and then relaxing before an early dinner and bed.
The sherpas are the real legends of the mountains, our sherpas carried 3 MASSIVE backpacks each, you feel a total flake walking up with your small day sack and still struggling behind them. You wonder how they manage and then see a tiny Nepali man walk past with a full size door on their back, with a mattress on top and maybe a rug or a box of beers on top of that! Bearing in mind this is all at altitude… these people are superhumans!
I’m not going to lie, there were days when I just wanted to be snuggled up in my bed at home, my head hurt from the altitude, the food was bland and made me sick, I was tired, grumpy and emotions were running high… but then we would wake up early for the morning views of Everest and the surrounding mountains and you couldn’t help but smile and realise just how lucky you are to be here seeing these views in real life. Photos just don’t come close to the spectacular breath-taking mountains every way you turn!
The day we reached Everest Base Camp was a long one, but the moment we stepped onto that Glacier surrounded by mountaineers busy getting ready to make the ascent to the actual top of the mountain our energy levels increased tenfold and we all jumped, laughed, cheered and felt that awesome sense of achievement wash over us… we made it! Now we just had to get back down again!
If Jen has inspired you to experience an adventure in India or Nepal, take a look at these tours which start from just £349. Follow Jen as she starts the next part of her adventure in Singapore on twitter @jlowthrop.