Everest Base Camp Trek

I remember, as a boy, rubbing my fingers over Mt. Everest on our family’s raised-relief globe of the Earth, and wondering what the spiky peak might look like up-close. More than a half century later, we embarked on a twelve-day hiking trek to Everest Base Camp to finally see for myself.

Passenger aircraft landing on inclined runway at the Lukla airport
Passenger aircraft preparing for take-off at the Lukla airport

In this part of the world there are no roads. To reach the trailhead, we boarded a short take-off and landing aircraft for a 20-minute flight to the mountain town of Lukla. Ominously known as the “most dangerous airport in the world”, Lukla’s undersized runway was constructed with a twelve-percent slope!

Everest Base Camp trekking group (guides Basu and Prakash third and fourth from right)
One of our porters, Mr. Susan, carrying our bags up the trail

Joining our quest to reach Everest Base Camp were three Swedish hikers, two guides Prakash and Basu, and porters to carry our extra gear. Regrettably, half-way into the trek, Prakash contracted dengue fever, and had to be airlifted back to the hospital in Kathmandu.

Entering Namche Bazaar, the largest town on the Everest Base Camp trail
Warm and comfortable accommodations in the electrified town of Namche Bazaar

On the second day of the trek, we reached Namche Bazaar, the largest settlement along the Everest Base Camp trail. The narrow streets of Namche were jammed with guesthouses, bars, and retail shops catering to trekkers and tourists from around the world. In our guesthouse, we enjoyed comfortable accommodations and the last hot shower until our return the following week.

Giddy with excitement at our first views of Mt. Everest from Everest View Hotel
Friendly local dog we met on the trail never tires of this view

Just above Namche Bazaar, we admired our first view of Mt. Everest. At the aptly named Everest View Hotel, we lingered over a cup of coffee on their sun-splashed terrace, and stared incredulously at the world’s highest mountain.

Buddhist monk making his rounds at Tengboche monastery
Mt. Ama Dablam and colorful prayer flags flapping in the wind

For me, seeing Mt. Everest and trekking in the Himalayas was a spiritual experience. Under perfectly clear skies and a backdrop of soaring jagged peaks, we passed Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, festooned with colorful prayer flags flapping in the wind.

Typical evening trying to stay warm with fellow trekkers around the guesthouse stove
Esther bundled up in guesthouse bedroom for a warm night’s sleep

Up the trail above Namche Bazaar, the temperatures dropped, the guesthouses grew more primitive, and hot running water became unavailable. Warmth could only be found radiating from the stoves in the middle of the guesthouse common rooms. In the freezing bedrooms, sleeping attire consisted of our entire wardrobe of warm layers.

Shy Sherpa princess we met along the trail
Sherpa porter hauling huge load up the Everest Base Camp trail

This cold mountainous country is home to the Sherpa people, a Tibetan ethnic group native to the Himalayas. Sherpa people are famous for their elite mountaineering skills, and carry a “super-athlete” gene that enables them to thrive in high altitude and low oxygen conditions.

Yaks hauling freight up the Everest Base Camp trail
Evening yak dung fires in Sherpa village of Dingboche

In these higher elevations, Sherpa men can carry up to twice their body weight on their backs. Since there are no motor vehicles to transport freight, the Sherpa people also herd long-haired yaks. Domesticated yaks not only help share the load, but their dung also fuels the Sherpa’s fires above the timberline.

Early morning start on Everest Base Camp Day
Celebrating our arrival at Everest Base Camp

In the pre-dawn darkness on the eighth day of the trek, we started our final ascent to Everest Base Camp. At 5,364 meters (17,598 feet), and surrounded by the highest mountains on earth, we jubilantly celebrated our accomplishment. Since the only marker at the unoccupied base camp site was a large spray-painted rock, we climbed on top for the photo documenting our triumph.

Swedish friend Andreas and I climbing Kala Patthar Ridge (Mt. Everest in background)
Close-up view of Mt. Everest from Kala Patthar Ridge

After reaching Everest Base Camp, my Swedish trekking friend Andreas and I continued our climb along the Kala Patthar Ridge for a closer view of Mt. Everest. At the highest altitude most will reach without a climbing permit, I felt like Everest was almost close enough to touch.

Swedish companions lifting off in the express helicopter back to Lukla airport
Esther leaving highest elevation guesthouse village of Gorashep

That same afternoon, our Swedish companions boarded a transport helicopter and flew back to the Lukla airport. Esther and I misguidedly opted instead to stay the night in the highest, coldest, most spartan, and hygienically challenging guesthouse, and then hike for three more days back to the airport and our trekking end point.

Return stop in Namche Bazaar for long-anticipated hot shower
Returning to Kathmandu at the end of the trek

From the window of the airborne aircraft, I enjoyed one final glimpse of the world’s greatest mountain range and reflected on our twelve-day trek to Everest Base Camp. If I could somehow warp time, I would tell my boyhood self that I finally saw Mt. Everest, and it was even greater than he could imagine. His curt reply would probably be, “hey old man, what took you so long?”

Feature Photo: First view of Mt. Everest (above my pointed finger) alongside statue of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first to climb Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. Note the irony on the sign posted on the Tenzing statue.

Blogger’s Note: We will be leaving Nepal this week to return to our home in Arizona USA to celebrate the holidays with our family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and for your kind and generous comments. We have not determined our next trip destinations, but hope to travel for two months in the spring and two months in the fall of 2023. In the meantime, we hope you have a cheerful holiday and a healthy and happy new year.

26 thoughts on “Everest Base Camp Trek

    • It was very satisfying to realize my dream of seeing Mt. Everest, Banahur. All the mountains in the Himalaya region are breathtaking, but Mt. Everest is unique. Not only is it the highest mountain on earth, but it seems to rise self-assuredly in the background between the other nearby peaks. For me, trekking to Everest Base Camp was a rewarding endeavor, and seeing Mt. Everest for myself was an unforgettable experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Neil. I was thinking about you, especially as I was climbing Kala Patthar. Hoofing it up that steep ridge was a real pain in the ass. For me, it was the highest elevation and hardest section of the entire 12-day trek. The rewarding views of Mt. Everest from the top were truly spectacular and worth the effort. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, JaNann! Esther and I have been talking about trekking to Everest Base Camp for many years. We finally took the plunge while our bodies could still handle the altitudes and walking distances. Because we acclimatized well and quit walking around 2:00 pm each day, we had plenty of energy and endurance to reach our goal. Probably the most difficult part of the trek was the cold and poorly maintained guesthouses at the higher elevations. Just imagine squat toilets shared by the entire crowded guesthouse with no running water for flushing.


  1. Now that is definitely an accomplishment! Well done, you two. I had to laugh at your phrasing after your Swedish compatriots took the helicopter back to Lukla: “Esther and I misguidedly opted instead to stay the night.” But you made it! Hot showers I’m sure were never more appreciated. The pictures of everything I’m sure aren’t doing justice to the actual view, but they nevertheless are beautiful. Well done, Joe! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • This did feel like a real accomplishment, Marty. Just getting up and walking for twelve consecutive days merits a gold star. We honestly never seriously considered taking the helicopter back down the mountain. For starters, they were charging around $1,000 per person for the 20-minute ride. Moreover, it would have cut three days out of our time in the mountains. The upper guesthouses were pretty nasty, but the hot shower in Namche washed away all those discomforts. I’m happy you liked the photos. I had close to one thousand to chose from!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, wow! Your pictures are amazing… what a adventure you had. That airport… yikes! I thought the airport on Catalina Island was… ummm… challenging, but that one is nuts. Also noted: Do not opt to hike the three days back to Lukla airport, take the helicopter.

    Enjoy your holidays at home. I look forward to hearing of your next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flying into and out of Lukla airport was exciting, Janis. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to climb Everest in 1953, supervised the construction of the airport in 1964. Before the airport was built, it took 16 hours to drive to the end of the road, and then two more days walk to reach Lukla. The runway, unpaved until 2001, has a discernible slope to slow down landing aircraft and help to accelerate take-offs. Because it is set in the mountains, a landing cannot be aborted after the pilot has committed to a final descent. Despite all this and its many documented accidents, flying in and out of Lukla was a still a fun experience and one of the highlights of our trip. Happy holidays!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is hard to find words to describe the majesty of the Himalayas, Dave. As a geology student in college, we learned about the plate tectonic forces that created these highest mountains on earth. About 50 million years ago, India was an island, steaming north toward the immovable Eurasian continental land mass at a geologically supersonic speed of six inches per year. The ultimate head-on collision resulted in a continental car wreck that crumpled and contorted the earth’s crust into a jumbled mass of rock thrusting straight up into the sky. Even today, the mountains are still rising; and ironically, the summit of Everest consists of limestone, originally deposited below sea level!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe, to say that I am jealous is an understatement. I have wanted to do this trekking adventure for a very long time.
    Well done you and Esther for making it happen.
    Would you recommend the trekking company you used? Would you go again with them? We thought about just hiring a porter and doing it independently, I would appreciate your thoughts on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and Brian would really love this trek, Gilda. It is considered moderate in difficulty, and the altitude is manageable with adequate acclimatization. The mountain views are unparalleled! We used Nepal Hiking Team and liked them very much. For EBC, we would probably use them again. The guides spoke English quite well and arranged all the permits and accommodations. We met a few trekkers without guides and fewer without porters. Because the trail was easy to follow, you could do it without a guide, as long as you plan your guesthouse stays, especially at the higher elevations. Best of luck!


  4. Absolutely amazing to read about your remarkable journey these past weeks. How utterly exhilarating for you both to finally experience a life long dream. The load on the Sherpa’s back is mind boggling! So many challenges & extreme conditions to accomplish the dangerous, yet beautiful trek. Safe travels back home!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so nice to hear from you, Sylvia. Thank you for your wonderful comment and for sharing our adventure with us. The Sherpa porters are truly remarkable. Since the only motor vehicles are helicopters, most everything is transported on the trail by either pack animals or human porters. After seeing raw unrefrigerated butchered meat being carried by a porter, we decided to go vegetarian the rest of the way. We really didn’t mind going meatless, but I wonder how Jeff and Dan would have fared? Also, because only yak dung briquettes are used for smoking meat above the timber line, the guys might have also opted for salads.


  5. What an accomplishment! Few people can say they’ve made it to Everest’s base camp, and now that I read about it, I can see why. I can’t imagine the determination and training it must take to go to the top of Everest, but I’m very glad you two didn’t try that. The photos are stunning, and I’m so impressed that the local people have adapted so well to that altitude and climate. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your trip with us! Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trekking to Everest Base Camp feels like a real accomplishment, Ann. When hiking above 17,000 feet there is only about 50% of the normal oxygen content in the air. Taking it slow and breathing in a steady cadence really helped in the higher altitudes. The Sherpa people along the trail were a delight. Most either work in guesthouses or restaurants catering to trekkers, or get paid by the kilogram for carrying heavy loads. Their smiles and welcoming words were infectious. We also met many friendly canines along the trail. I included the picture of the dog at the Everest View Hotel just for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic, wonderful thing to do and a great achievement, well done guys, what an experience. The views of the peak are more tangible and close looking than we imagined, no wonder you were so thrilled. A five decade old dream come true. Would love to hear more…. maybe when you’ve sorted your next destination we’ll be in the same corner of the world and can listen to your stories from this amazing adventure!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Phil & Michaela! It would be great fun to swap travel stories over a few beers with you guys some day. Photos just can’t capture the mountain scenery here. At the higher altitudes, the jagged glaciated peaks soar all around you. As much as I anticipated great views, I was not prepared for the open-mouthed awe they induced. After completing four treks this year between Peru and Nepal, we may be looking for a little more city culture and beach time next year. Any suggestions?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Really liked reading about your trek. It’s on my 2024 bucket list. I’m Shane (Curt’s friend) and I’m looking forward to meeting you at our “tropical destination” in late January.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Shane! Thanks for checking out our blog. Nepal should be great for you in 2024. Since around mid-October, the weather in Nepal has been near perfect. In the mountains, we had mostly clear blue skies, light winds, and only a few clouds in the afternoons. Temperatures in the mornings were below freezing at the higher elevations, but warmed up nicely during the day. The spring months of March-May are also suppose to be excellent for trekking. I would be happy to share more details when we head to the tropics this winter. In the meantime, happy holidays, and look forward to seeing you in January!


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