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.