November 30, 2017
Story and photographs by Bob Conklin
Part 1. Adventure of a Lifetime
In this four-part series, I’ll share some stories, tips and pictures from my recent journey. I hope you’ll enjoy it. The trip was certainly an adventure of a lifetime. In this segment, you’ll find an introductory article followed by photographs. You’ll find links to the other parts of the series in “Related Articles & Websites,” following the photographs.
In subsequent segments, I’ll include more photos and stories from the trail. It is safe to say there were some surprises and amazing vistas along the way!
Note from Editor. The author of this article, Bob Conklin, is the first person from the right in the back row in the celebratory group picture to the right.
The Everest Challenge
Straddling the border of Nepal and Tibet, Mount Everest stands 29,029ft (5.5 vertical miles) above sea level. Those who attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain typically go for the top during a one-week period in late May when raging jet stream winds briefly subside. To successfully climb Mt. Everest takes fitness, luck, money ($50,000+), time (about two months in total), a willingness to suffer, and an acceptance of the fact that you just might die up there.
While over 4,000 individuals have stood at the top of the world, most of us lack the desire, ability or means to tackle this extreme challenge. Happily, there is an alternative that gets you up close and personal with Mt. Everest, other Himalayan giants and the Sherpa culture of Nepal. What’s more, the classic trek to Everest Base Camp can be accomplished with much less time, money and risk.
How about a trek to Everest Base Camp?
A typical itinerary takes 2-3 weeks, including time for flights. Most trekkers fly into Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) and then 40 minutes via a smaller plane to Lukla, where the hiking begins. Nights are spent in local inns (“tea houses”) in Sherpa villages along the route. The tea houses are not heated at night and so you’ll be in a bed, but also in a sleeping bag.
The best time to go is either in the spring or the fall. I chose the fall because it is known for somewhat clearer skies. Another decision you need to make is whether to 1) go with an organized trekking group, 2) hire a local guide when you get there or 3) go unsupported. I like to think I’m adventurous and I’ve travelled a fair bit, but I was also travelling alone and it was to be my first time in Nepal. I quickly concluded that going with a group made the most sense.
Selecting a Trekking Company
So, after years of dreaming about a trip to Mount Everest, all I needed to do was pick a trekking company and an itinerary that was best for me. What I found was a myriad of choices ranging from about $1,500 to $6,000, typically including most meals and lodging, the short flight to Lukla, and porters to carry most of your stuff so that you need only hike with a smaller day pack. Your international flight to Kathmandu is separate and can be purchased for a little over $1,000 if you are diligent in your ticket search.
I tend to research everything to death before making a big purchase. Ultimately, I decided to make the trek with a group called Sherpa Mountain Adventures, jointly based in Colorado and Kathmandu. They simply offered more than the low budget firms and I felt they offered at least an equivalent experience to the “name brand” companies who charge twice the price. After returning from the trek, I would certainly recommend them! You’ll need to make your own choice based on your own decision criteria, but here are a few of the reasons I chose and enjoyed travelling with Sherpa Mountain Adventures (SMA): sherpamountainadventures.com
Safe Food and Water: This seems like a basic thing, but you don’t want to be sick on a big trip like this. Unlike many other trekking groups, SMA cooks prepare all the food and drinking water along the route. It’s pretty common for westerners to develop gastrointestinal issues in places like India and Nepal. I had no such problems.
American and Sherpa Guides: Our group was led by an American guide from Colorado and several Sherpa guides. In addition to their impressive climbing resumes, all had extensive experience with the route and in leading outdoor adventures. Frankly, they were also just a blast to hang out with. In future segments of the story, I’ll tell you how the guides handled some serious challenges thrown our way. It was truly impressive!
Local Connections in Nepal: Many trekking companies highlight cultural experiences, but I think SMA takes it to another level. SMA is run by a well-known and respected Sherpa family from the Everest region that is known for giving back to the community. Not only is it great to visit their homes and receive their kind blessings, they hold some sway. Things don’t always go to plan and their influence helped us secure a helicopter and some unplanned lodging when we needed them during the height of a busy trekking season.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you’ll continue on with me in the next part of my trek to Everest Base Camp and read Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 2.
Below is an assortment of photographs that I took during the trek.
End of part 1 of 4
For the next part of the series, read Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 2.
Related Articles & Web Sites
Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 1. (Adventure of a Lifetime) Article
Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 2. (Starting Point Surprise) Article
Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 3. (Onward and Upward) Article
Everest Base Camp Trek: A Photo Journal, Part 4. Article
Sherpa Mountain Adventures Website
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