Trekking survival in Nepal
It is the off-peak winter season, Nepal is cold. It’s colder still in the mountains. But, I must personally say nothing as cold as compared to the Annapurna Circuit I trekked previously. However this does not add nor detract from unfolding current events.
I expected the Everest Base Camp trek to have better facilities. Better accommodation, and better food given the synonymous name it carried. Strangely this is not so compared with the other regions I trekked in Nepal.
Accommodation here is more expensive and you get a lot less for what you pay for. There are no free hot showers either.
How your Everest Base Camp Trek accommodation & food is priced
Each area you stop over at on the various trekking trails in Nepal is administrated by a local council. A sort of make up of lodges, tour agencies, local villages and so on.
They set the forthcoming seasons prices when it comes to room fees and meal costs. They also control what’s available in various lodges. There is some resemblance of structure here. It means no one runs rampant with their prices. There are minimum prices set and after that it’s up to the owners to add on more should they want to.
It can also lead to a whole region taking on a for profit mentality than can spread to other areas due taking the lead, and having a famous name …
More money, fewer facilities
On the Annapurna circuit you can still get a hot shower with the price of your room. But on the Everest Base camp trek it’s an additional fee.
I am paying about 200 rupees a night for a room. A low rate due to the time of year and my powers of persuasion. AKA find an empty lodge in the cold winter off-season.
To have a hot shower from solar heaters will cost me the same as my room.
1 litre of water is also up to 120 rupees – 200 rupees a bottle.
Boiled water is still 80 rupees.
From what I’ve heard this idea of charging for showers will soon be implemented all over Nepal’s trails.
I for one am happy to go shower-less for now.
Saving money with no compromises when trekking in Nepal
Water is one of the biggest expenses on any trek in Nepal. While recycled water stations are meant to be running, in the cold off-season they are not.
The water up here is often free of heavy metals and pollution. A streipen can be a great thing in such conditions if you have one. Used with boiled water it can protect you from various bugs. And, from what I’ve worked out given the current prices you’ll break even financially compared to only buying bottled water on a trek like this.
The other choice for water purification are iodine pills. Very cheap, taste horrible, but kill nearly everything in the water that’s bad. You can however get something to take the bad taste away.
There are also chlorine drops which take a little preparation.
I personally go the 50/50 route of boiled iodine water and chlorine bottles of water. Along with some fresh bottled water everyday too.
Bring your own supplies on a trek
Unless you are going with a porter carrying a lot of food or supplies is not feasible. I don’t use a porter. I wish I could afford to right now as it always seems like a very nice idea when you are starting to suffer from AMS.
But, I do carry several energy snacks to help keep me going. Local trekking bars from Kathmandu or Pokhara are great, not too heavy but filling. So too are dried fruit bars that really pack an energy blast. Yak cheese is perhaps this trek’s greatest addition. There’s nothing quite like rounding a meal off than with some heavy cheese.
Finally, some mints or other boiled sweets for all that heavy breathing and deep cursing at having broken boots wrapped in tape. I know many disagree with taking sugary sweets but it does help with a dry mouth and throat.
Is every trek in Nepal like this? No. You can choose from easy and hard treks in Nepal. Check out my dedicated page on trekking in Nepal.
The personal mental challenge of a trek during the winter
I felt so so before the trek. Now my mind is switching off. The route to Tengbouche (3,867 meters/is not that visually spectacular. It’s rough dry trails with lots of brown mountains.
Yes, blue skies and flashes of giant ice capped mountains startle my brain awake every now and then. I look up, feel like I’m somewhere special, then my boots slip and it’s head back down again. Altitude is also taking it’s toll now on me as the few hours of trekking a day now feel like double that. And this is where I feel the real strain of a winter trek to Everest.
Previously on the Annapurna circuit it was the final few days of ascent I found hard. Here, I find the long up and down monotony of the Everest Base Camp trail laborious. Worse yet is that with every step my broken hiking boots remind me of my own faults in overlooking the most basic of needs on a trek.
Solitary mental anguish
We’ve come across no trekkers heading in our direction. Only those coming back. It’s me and Narayan for most of the day and night.
My mind is not here. It is in distant lands thinking of life there.
This is the altitude
I think of a quieter gentler life. No pressure. Get a job. Buy a television. Give in. No more worry.
And, it is here with these thoughts that I find my heart kicking in and looking up at the white peaks thrusting into the blue sky whilst digging my heels in further.
If I was to give in. Then I wouldn’t be here in the first place.
I move on. I keep going. It’s just me and my mental battle now.
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 5 (the very worst day)
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