It would appear that one of the things about Everest Base Camp (let’s call it, as most people seem to do, ‘EBC’ for short) that frustrates you from the very off, is just how to do it in the first place. There just appear to be some pretty large and complicated decisions to take. The two biggest issues, for me at any rate, are the time it takes, and then what to do alongside it, if anything. Let me explain further.
As regards time, a trip to most mountains, even Kilimanjaro, isn’t going to devour 90% or so of your annual holiday allowance. Everest on the other hand does – the shortest trip I can find anywhere at all takes 18 days, and so there is three weeks holiday gone right there. Some trips are longer. Kilimanjaro, even allowing for travelling each way to Africa, is just a 10 day jaunt. You could do say Mont Blanc in four. You could even do probably three or four of the other Seven Summits in no more than 10 days, and that includes summitting. With EBC you don’t even do that – you just trek a long way to a pretty desolate rocky campsite (OK, so just not any desolate rocky campsite :)), and with no view of Everest even from there. I think that is why it is to some people a little frustrating. More of the time factor later however.
Now as regards the “how” – take also two of my friends for example, one of whom has been there, and the other one who wants to go. The one who has been (whom I shan’t name) is delighted by the whole experience etc etc, but really wished he’d gone to Annapurna, for better trekking and better views. The other, whom I shall call Paul (which is his name after all :)), wants to go to EBC, but would find the thought of not being able to climb it (i.e. Everest itself) very frustrating indeed, and I empathise with that totally. That is, after all, what mountains are there for. He’d also like to see Annapurna (and who doesn’t!), and would prefer to combine the two. Trouble is that would take even more time (they are not exactly next door to each other even if they are both in Nepal), and so for me that means it is Everest and Everest only…..
Which brings me on to the second problem therefore, i.e, what to do ‘with’ it, by which I mean ‘alongside’. I feel like I have to be able to climb something (using the word ‘climb’ in it’s loosest sense of course given my abilities, or lack of them). And so when I looked at the various trekking companies who do Everest (and there are bunches of them), there are a few ‘add-ons’ that you can do. I therefore got to looking at two in particular, one being Island Peak, and the other Mera Peak. Island Peak, which sort of sounds to me a bit innocuous, turns out to be a bit (and that may be the understatement of all time) scary. See for example the video below which I found on Youtube. Look in particular at the section from about 2:40 – 3:40, and these people are lucky in that it appears to be a calm and clear day – imagine if the wind was blowing, and bear in mind also that this is at about 21,000 feet:
Now Mera Peak, which I have only heard of because there is a Berghaus jacket named after it :), is apparently the highest trekking peak in the Himalayas. It is, at 6,450m or so, higher than Island Peak (6,189m), but less of a technical climb to get there. Here is someone’s Youtube video from the summit – you still need crampons and ice-axes and the like, but no technical climbing as such. You also get to see 5 of the world’s 6 (or is it 7) highest mountains (Everest, Makalu, Lohtse, Cho Oyo, and Kangchenchunga) from the top. That has to be outrageously exciting:
So anyway, I could do Mera Peak probably, even though it is around 1,500 feet higher than Kilimanjaro. Island Peak, although a little lower, is a different ballgame for me. You need fixed line experience, and jumars, and ascenders, and cow’s tails, whatever they are. I haven’t got the skills it seems, and that means that they are probably going to make it impossible for me, unless…………….more in a later post on that one, I’m not being beaten yet!
And of course to do one of these two little sidebar jaunts adds another four days on to your trip. So instead of 18 days, it becomes 22 or 23 days. Does any of this put me off? Not on your Nelly!!
I have the bit between my teeth, I am the dog with the bone. I will do this. It has become bigger than even Kilimanjaro, and is not yet off the ground. I need to get it there, and will be concentrating all my efforts on it for the foreseeable future. It absolutely consumes me at that the moment, and that is a wonderful thing. I have so much that I need to learn, and I even bought another seven (yes really) books on Everest and trekking in Nepal off Amazon yesterday. Oh and yes a shiny new camera too 😀
More of these deliberations very soon, including an interim climbing (yes really) trip in the offing to Switzerland. I must be mad…….