Everest Base Camp Preparation
In my last blog post you learned how to prepare for Everest Base Camp by Climbing Mt. Whitney. If you did not read it yet, you can access it by clicking or tapping on this link. In this blog post I will give you some statistics and explain the importance of preparation. Kick back, pull up your socks, and relax while I entertain you with wit, information, and terrible science jokes. If you already know about Everest Base Camp Preparation and you want to skip ahead to what to expect before coming to , Nepal you can find that article here.
“Aint nobody got time for that!” Yes, Sweet Dee, you are right. Altitude sickness can ruin your trek. Fortunately, there are ways to ascend into the highest reaches of our atmosphere without getting sick. The first things you should be aware of when ascending in altitude are your bodies warning signs of altitude sickness.
The most acute form of altitude sickness is called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). According to Web Md, common symptoms of AMS include dizziness, head ache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and muscle pain. When I get AM sick, my fingers swell up. This is not a common sign. The only way I found out was by going above 8,000 ft. Your body may respond differently. For example, a friend of mine has chronic flatulence at about 12,000 ft. I don’t hike with her anymore.
- There are more than 200,000 cases of altitude sickness the US per year.
The second most severe type of altitude sickness is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). It is a condition like pneumonia. Fluid fills up some space in the lungs making it hard to breath. Common signs of HAPE include shortness of breath, coughing up blood or frothy saliva, and fever. If you see these signs descend immediately.
I saw this onetime on my trek to Everest Base Camp. A young gentleman had a severe headache, and cough when he arrived in the lodge I was in. I was in the common room waiting for some hot water when he came in and asked if there was a doctor available. He showed the staff his blue hands. I thought to myself this guy has Ebola. As I was hastily retreating from a potential epidemic a staff member said it was altitude sickness.
- Less than 1% of people rapidly exposed to high elevations are diagnosed with HAPE
The most severe form of altitude sickness is High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). This is the least common form of altitude sickness. It occurs when there is a build up of fluid in the brain. Yikes, brain juice!!!
Are you ready for a terrible science joke? It has nothing to do wit
What do chemists call trees?
Identifying how your body responds to high elevations is the first step in preventing altitude sickness.
Having the right gear can make or break your trip. You must also know how much gear you need to take. The optimal pack is lightweight and contains all your essential items. This would be the most important aspect of this post if safety wasn’t first.
Having a packed bag that is light weight and contains only your essential items may seem a like an easy task to create. It is complicated. Most people achieve this goal through experience and knowledge. Luckily for you, I have both. For the most part, keep it simple. Don’t over weigh your bag with gear you will not use.
Try packing everything you think you will need on a trek to Everest Base Camp. Then go on a day hike. You will know by the end of the day what gear is essential. The essential items I had in my bag were 3 long sleeve shirts (hoody, sweater, and plain), trekking poles, water bottle, 12 pairs of socks, and pajamas. Everything else can be provided by the tea houses along the trail. I also had a sleeping bag, a coat, and snowboarding pants, all of which were not needed.
If you find that you have more essential items than I did, you can hire a porter to carry your bag. This has 3 benefits. The first is that you can cram in as much “essential” gear as possible. The second is that is supports the local people. And the third is that it helps prevent altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be exacerbated by over exertion.
Physical Fitness Preparation
You don’t have to be exceptionally fit to do the Everest Base Camp trek. I saw many unfit people on the trail and it was inspiring. If you walk slowly, you will not have a problem. The issue with fitness is directly related to altitude sickness. Can you see the pattern forming?
Anything you can do to improve your cardio vascular system will greatly enhance your body’s ability to process oxygen.
I like water aerobics and day hikes.
- About 4,000 people die each year from drowning in the United States
A little bit of physical preparation before your trip can save you a lot of joint and muscle pain along the way. No matter your condition you start the trek in, you will be in great shape by the end. I lost 30 pounds at the end of my journey.
You can find most kinds of food on the trail. Be warned, the food shown on the menu is not what will be served to you. I found most of the food on the menu to be terrible. I encourage you to experiment though. You will not be disappointed if you eat lentils and rice with vegetables.
After a few months only eating lentils and rice, I start to get olfactory hallucinations. It is the weirdest thing. Be prepared for that if you are not mixing up your diet. You might want to prepare your digestive system for the food. This sounds weird but it helps you normalize when you are on the trail.
One science fact before I depart…
What is the one thing faster than the speed of light?
A Chuck Norris round house kick.
Safe travels, and have fun