It is an honor to write about my trek to Everest. I had previous reached out to Ian Taylor Trekking in 2016 as I really wanted to trek in the Everest region in 2017. Ian encouraged me to do the 5 day Inca Trail and see how I would adapt to the lack of oxygen and cope with multi-day trekking. I have run half marathons in the past but never been on a trekking adventure and wanted to be safe and successful.
Looking back on this journey. It was important for me to start will a lower altitude trek and build up to the Everest trip. I have to no idea what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t used to carrying a backpack, trekking or walking for hours on end and as I learned I was not as strong as I though I was.
Be Physically Prepared
I have to admit from what I read on the internet that the Everest trek was going to be easy. It certainly was not. It might be easy for those who trek all the time, go hiking, are active but from my experience on the trail most people were like me. Thinking we were fitter than we actually are. The uneven trail, stairs, steps and long days on your feet require strength and specific trekking, walking and training. Don’t correct the altitude and the lack of oxygen.
I didn’t really pay as much attention to the training as I should and learned my lesson on the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. I really struggled with the steps, altitude and struggled every day. My legs were sore, and I missed some of the main Incan sites because of I was far too slow. On a separate note, Peru is amazing. Machu Picchu is very special and the service and set up on the Inca trail was second to none. This was a life changing experience for me.
I applied what I learned on the Inca Trail and started training each day with weighted backpack. Building strength and endurance by walking up hill on the stair master. I live at sea level, so I really had to figure out how build the right leg strength and training harder at higher heart rates to be able to perform longer an harder. This was critical, talk to Ian he will explain what you need to be doing and listen to him. I did underestimate the training needed to be comfortable, safe and enjoy the trek.
The Building up my training in preparation for Everest Base Camp
I decided to give myself 6 months to prepare. After the Inca Trail trip, I kept training 3 days a week and then started ramping up the amount of days to 4 and 5 and sometimes 6 days a week. I am 52 years old and tried to build up to 1:30 minutes at 140 heart rate with a weighted back pack. Then once a week I would training for 2/3 hours with weight at 120/130 heart rate, taking a break each hour.
My journey to Everest
The hard training was done, months of preparation and dedication. I hoped I would have what it takes to make it to Everest and Kala Phattar and have the legs to make it all the way back down again. I found my way to Kathmandu and was excited to be there. I was greeted by one of Ian’s staff and brought to the Yatri hotel, a nice hotel in the tourist district of Kathmandu. Coming from the states I wanted to take a few days to relax and recover from the long flight. I did some sightseeing around Kathmandu and well worth the extra few days if you can spare them.
The staff on the ground were great Dawa, Sonam, Kay and others helped me at every turn while I was in the city. I had feared the flight into Lukla but it was really straight forward and the views were nothing short of spectacular.
The terrain and trek to Everest
The trek and terrain to Everest were challenging under foot. The trails are not manicured, they are uneven, steep and require you to have excellent leg strength. The pace our guides set was perfect, slow and steady was key to success, but you have to be prepared. Some of our group wanted to go faster but the guides explained the need to go slow in the beginning. It was and is so important in recovery and easing you way into altitude. It was so important to have the additional time in Namche. Three nights was a welcome break for some as we gave our bodies a chance to give the best acclimatization.
The hills, trails and trek are full of hills. You are either walking uphill or downhill, so you do need to be physically prepared. Most of the trail is uneven and hard under foot. It was very different from the Inca Trail. I was so glad I trained with the weight backpack. My legs were sore on the Inca Trail on this trek my legs were rock solid, which gave me a lot of confidence. I had no problem with the two hour hills up to Namche and Tengbouche. Ian talked to me about coming with leg strength and endurance and he was 150% right. You need hours of training in the leg. Do not underestimate this.
Trekking high up in the Everest Region
In terms of the journey to Everest, it is much easier if you come prepared. It was always important to move slowly. I never had a headache at any stage of the trip. I did have some altitude related stomach issues but that was always to be expected. As we moved to Lobuche, Gorak Shep and Everest the lack of oxygen was noticeable. The lack of oxygen on Kala Phattar was really noticeable and the hours of training really paid off as my leg and overall physical conditioning helped be cope so much better. Kala Phattar is not easy but doable, just come prepared.
Our whole team made it into Everest Base Camp but only 6 out of 10 made it up and I felt sorry for them as this was one of the best mountain viewing days of the whole trip. You need to go up Kala Phattar if you are feeling up to it.
It was noticeably much harder to move between 16,000 and 18,500 feet. After 10,000 feet was no big deal compared to what it felt like hiking at this very high altitude. Once again, the physical training and preparation paid dividends. You much train for this trip to enjoy it. I don’t care what you read on the internet.
The service, team and advice from Ian Taylor Trekking
The service, set up, number of guides we had compared to other groups was exceptional. From the moment I was in touch with Ian, his advice, passion and wealth of information was priceless. His office team in the US and Nepal were truly amazing and always available to help me in my journey to achieve this dream. A remarkable group of people I hope to climb Kilimanjaro with Ian himself in 2020 and take on another challenge. The journey so far has been life changing and I mean that.
Bryan Collins Everest Base Camp Trek 2018