Our trip includes a full-day guided tour of Kathmandu before we begin the trek. Here’s a new online post from Outside Magazine with photos and short descriptions of three must-see holy sites – two Buddhist and one Hindu – that we’ll be visiting.
It’s now the year 2069 on the Nepali calendar! Astrologers in Kathmandu are predicting a rough first couple of months for the Himalayan kingdom, but then smooth sailing by the time Christmas and our own new year roll around at the end of December. So if you’ve been waiting for a sign from the heavens before signing on for our trek, this could be it!
Congratulations! – if you’re in reasonably good shape and love the outdoors, and if you find the idea of hiking in the Everest region intriguing enough that it’s landed you here, then chances are you can pull it off! Hundreds of people of all ages complete this trek every year, and so can you.
The trails we’ll be using are in great condition – they have to be; they serve as transportation routes between Sherpa villages – and the distances we’ll walk are actually surprisingly short. On most days, we’ll hike about four miles and gain 1500-2000 feet in altitude. That works out to about 375-500 feet of elevation gain per mile. By comparison, climbing House Mountain, a local hiking destination near where I live in Virginia, entails an increase of 1500 feet over 2.5 miles – a rate of 600 feet up per mile.
Of course, the equation changes a bit when you’re hiking above 10,000 feet, which is why this trek will feel harder than going up House Mountain, even though in most places it’s actually not as steep. The air at that altitude is thinner than what you’re used to and, as you ascend, it’ll be increasingly harder to catch your breath. For that reason, the familiar Kilimanjaro climbing mantra of pole pole (“slowly, slowly”) holds true in the Khumbu as well. We’ll take our time and enjoy the views, giving ourselves every opportunity to acclimatize well and eventually stand in the shadow of the highest peak on earth.
We’ve received quite a few visitors to the site over the past couple of days. Welcome! I hope you join us in December for the Christmas of a lifetime. Please have a look around and email me any questions you may have about the trip. I’ll post the answers here or on the FAQ page. Here’s a common one…
Q. What’s the food like in Nepal?
A. On the trek, you’ll probably eat a lot of pasta, potatoes and eggs. I tend to shy away from the meat options, just to keep my stomach happy, but, if you’re game, you can get yourself a yak steak or chicken cooked any of about a half dozen ostensibly different ways (e.g. chicken steak, chicken sizzler, fried chicken, chicken tender…). There’s also the ubiquitous dal baht tarkari: steamed rice with lentil soup and vegetable curry. It’s simple and tasty and it’s powered many a porter up the Khumbu. It’ll do you right too. Back in Kathmandu, two of my favorite meals are pizza at Fire and Ice and breakfast and a hot pot of tea on a foggy morning while seated outdoors in the garden restaurant at Pilgrims Book House.
Washington & Lee students, did you see our ad onscreen at tonight’s presentation in the Stackhouse? The photo we used was taken at sunrise during a Christmas trek up to base camp a few years ago. Can you identify the peak that’s pictured? Hint: it’s not Everest but, at over 22,000 ft, it’s one of the most impressive and best-known mountains in the Khumbu region. For another glance, visit the Itinerary page on this site. Or just look up at it every day in person when you trek with us this December!
Currently, the best deal on airfare to Kathmandu is a $1274 flight out of Dulles on Lufthansa with a 12-hour, midday layover in Munich. Christkindlmarkt Christmas present shopping, anyone?
The Khumbu is the name for the Everest region of Nepal. Its elevation ranges from 11,000 ft up to the 29,000-ft summit of Mt. Everest, but we’ll only be heading as high as 18,000 ft. The Khumbu is home to the Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar as well as the famous Buddhist monastery at Tengboche. We’ll visit both on our trek up to base camp.