We don’t really need to sell you on the mountain glories of the Khumbu region; just a whisper of the word ‘Everest’ and everyone in the room snaps to attention.
The chances are that if you love the mountains, you’ve always considered walking to Everest. It’s the ultimate goal of the vertically inclined, a classic journey in the footsteps of Tenzing and Hillary into the planet’s most jaw-dropping mountain arena, home to the world’s highest peak but encompassing so much more.
Now that Nepal’s Maoist uprising is firmly behind it, trekkers are once again rediscovering the region’s remoter trails. For an alternative to the standard Base Camp route try the high-altitude Three Passes trek or adventurous Mera Peak expedition. If you want something more authentic, tread the old-school approach routes to Everest from Jiri and Tumlingtar, along parts of the 1700km-long Great Himalaya Trail.
Already popular, the trails to Everest are only going to get busier in future seasons. With 2015 marking a half-century since Major Jimmy Roberts organised the first commercial trek in Nepal, it might just be time to dust off those trekking boots. Why trek to Everest? Well, as Mallory famously quipped, ‘because it’s there’. (Lonely Planet)
Pack your head torch for the sunrise views of Mt Everest and the Khumbu Icefall from 5545m Kala Pattar. Beat the Base Camp crowds and acclimatise slowly by taking a side trail to the stunning scenery of the Gokyo and Chukkhung valleys, or to the Sherpa villages of Thame and Khunde. And be sure to attend one of the daily talks on altitude sickness at the Himalayan Rescue Association in Pheriche – it might just save your life.
Staying safe in the mountains
The tragic events in Annapurna National Park in October 2014 have pushed mountain safety to the top of the agenda. Extreme weather can occur in the Himalaya at any time and it is essential to monitor local weather conditions and seek shelter if conditions deteriorate. On any trek, make sure you are properly equipped, inform people of where you are going and when you will be back, and seek local advice as you trek.
Mountain safety, after a series of tragic mountain disasters, including blizzards in the Annapurna region which killed dozens of trekkers in October 2014.
With 60 flights a day arriving at Lukla airport in peak season and 200 people queuing up to attempt Everest on a good day, overcrowding on the trails is an ever-pressing issue. Finding a sustainable way to deal with the waste produced by so many trekkers and porters in such a remote region is a complex problem, though solar-powered technology is making a difference in many trekking lodges. Since 2014 each Everest climber is now required to carry 8kg of waste off the mountain.
Air safety is another concern, after air crashes in 2010, 2011 and 2012 killed dozens of trekkers and Nepali staff en route to or from the region.
At Everest Base Camp you are breathing in only 50% of the oxygen available at sea level.
Over 3000 people have summitted Mt Everest since Tenzing and Hillary reached the top in 1953: the youngest aged 13, the oldest 81.
Most bizarre sight
Fans of the bizarre will want to hike up to Khumjung Monastery to get a peek at its yeti scalp. Nearby Pangboche Monastery had its famous yeti hand stolen in 1991, but a replica is now on display.
The local Sherpa people are what make trekking in the Everest region such a joy. Many of the lodges you stay in will be run by a retired summitteer and most families have at least one member employed as a climbing porter or trekking guide. Sherpa culture also gives the region its distinctly Tibetan flavour, adorning the grand landscapes with stupas, prayer flags and stones carved with Buddhist mantras.
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