Every morning the helicopters would fly into the Solukumbhu region to rescue trekkers/climbers who needed medical care and we would all stop and watch them. We were all wondering whether our own trek would end that way. I am starting my review from a medical perspective as it was the reason I chose Ian Taylor Trekking when my son Ronan invited his 63 year old mother to join him on a trip I had never dreamed of.
Too many Helicopter Rescues
I was sure I would be the one taking the helicopter ride. The other younger and all male members of our group kept to the slow and steady pace set by our charismatic “sirdar” Kalden, because that is how to safely acclimatize to altitude regardless of age. Ian Taylor puts a premium on keeping people as healthy as possible. Pulse oximetry and twice daily vitals were documented carefully and sent to headquarters. Constant attention to safe diet, hydration and cleanliness kept us out of the weeds and we all made it to EBC.
Only one of us suffered a GI disturbance that might have ended his trek but he hung in there and shared the hugs, tears and many wide smiles as trekkers shuffled up to Base Camp and realized that they were there!! One of the best feelings in the world to share. Those many rescue helicopters evacuating others are testament to the necessity of such a careful approach!
Acclimatization is everything
I really only felt the altitude at the summit of Kala Patthar at 5am when the cold air triggered asthma while waiting for sunrise on Everest watching Kalden practicing his dance moves! We had 4 Sherpa’s who took very patient and individual responsibility for making sure all was OK on the trek and with food, water, belongings, and nightly massages with miracle relaxation cream!
What a Welcome to Nepal
We were offered white katas when we arrived to welcome us to the community and Dawa gave us great advice on what to see and eat in Kathmandhu outside of those targeted to tourists. I had 5 days in Kathmandhu and it was not enough to see even the top sites. My favourite thing was wandering streets outside of Thamel and finding wonders, shrines, chowks, watching the speed and colour of life. I felt welcomed in The Yatri Suites and in the Solukhumbu guest houses with Nepali warmth and charm.
The Everest Region is unique
Our sherpa’s explained the customs of the region as we trekked through clean and tidy villages. At first we all photographed everything, not realizing just how beyond our experience the landscape would become. All I can say is no photograph can even approach what it is like to experience this place. If you think you are weighing the pros and cons of doing the EBC, the biggest pro is something you can’t know now and must experience for yourself. It is so big that the cons become irrelevant, especially if you choose to place your safety in the hands of experts.
We loved the food
I must mention the food because my expectations were low from reading other reports. Ronan and I loved the food but we only ate local dishes like dhal bhaat and various veg. curries and had favourites along the way. Best dhal bhaat we got in Pheriche and don’t miss the Tibetan bread with curry in Dughla or the chicken chili in Namche. Attempts to cook for western palates were not bad at all and we all loved the soups and the teas. Our luck with food might reflect the careful vetting by Ian Taylor Trekking! I had stocked up with pricy and heavy trail food which I accidentally left in Lukla on day one! Turns out I was very well fed.
Make sure you have the right gear and clothing
A few other recommendations: good hiking poles (never a fan, now a convert), invest in high quality merino socks and layers. You will wear them for life. Good body wipes, great until it’s too cold. Use your buff all the time. Ian Taylor provides a nice one but have a spare or two. I had a hard time with the buff on descent as my asthma was triggered at summit and I felt suffocated. Then I developed a persistent khumbu cough from the dust. Finally, for convenience, we rented our sleeping bags and heavy down jackets from Ian Taylor Trekking and got very high quality equipment.
Join the Ian Taylor Trekking team in Nepal
Many thanks to Ian Taylor Trekking for getting us there and back. We shared the evolving experience with those we met fireside and all of us talked about the magnetic draw of the mountains and the peaks that we now know we can climb.
Mary Rice, Everest Base Camp Trek November 2018