Don’t rush a trek to Everest Base Camp
I say something like this every time I do a trek. I guess it’s in my nature to try and “get somewhere first”. With age comes wisdom, so they say. And a hint of laziness mixed up in the guise of a lot of “been there, done that” style of murmurings.
I like the unknown. As in doing, or seeing something new. Like trekking to Everest base camp in the winter as opposed to peak season. It’s an added challenge. So the return trip from Everest Base Camp instilled very little enthusiasm in it for me. You are essentially going back over an old path.
There is one exception to all this though. The fountain of youth is surging through your veins.
Bad boots, bad mood, good people, better drugs
Slipping and sliding along the trail was not doing me any favors. With every other step my boots would skid or slip out from under me. A physical and mentally exhausting process.
By now my head was filled with time to think. Had I taken enough photos? Did I miss anything? Why the hell didn’t I get new boots in Thailand … oh yeah, they didn’t have any worth buying.
Distraction was at hand though. My concentration from watching my every step had increased. I was sharing jokes and stories after being joined by a group of fun-loving Italians. There was a spring to my step. Heck I was bouncing along a trail that only a few days ago was near on insufferable
Yes, I was high. As in drug high.
One of the major side effects of high altitude is getting the physical high of the decent. A high that makes you feel as if you are in your teens again!
The best drug in world is found in the Himalayan mountains
When you climb or trek at altitude the air thins. Meaning you get less oxygen to power your body and mind. During this period your amazing body adapts to having less oxygen in your bloodstream. Slowly, over some more time you start to work just as efficiently on less oxygen.
So what happens when you quickly descend and the air once again is richly filled with oxygen? Well, you get an incredible high!
I can only explain it like this. If you are 50 remember what it was like to be 20? Now add some red bull or a litre of coffee. If you are 20 and reading this then you’ll feel better than that rush you got on your first big date. Got it? Good.
Want to taste the fountain of youth?
It’s there for the taking. The price is suffering for days on a grueling ascent. The reward, a day or two feeling like new again on the decent.
Well, no one said it was going to be free!
More about acclimatization when trekking
Fallen victims evacuated from the trail
Perhaps all the extra oxygen is the reason that over the next few days I saw and met two people who were being evacuated by helicopter. Over stretching their limits? Or, something else.
I don’t know the sense in this. But one of them was a friend of the Italian group. He slipped, hurt his back. Then asked for a helicopter to fly him down to Namche.
I don’t understand the logic in this as it would have been better to fly back to Kathmandu. But, sure enough the guy was waiting in Namche for us and looking quite healthy.
The second person was a North American who’d slipped on the ice and twisted his ankle. Again, another helicopter evacuation. This guy was actually limping. And, although many people would wonder why he could not just grin and bear it. I assure you the current terrain and weather does not make it easy at all.
How much does it cost to be evacuated from trekking in Everest?
Roughly speaking, about USD $5,000. That’s per person on a helicopter.
I’ve asked about why the cost is so high. Remember how much locals were paying for a helicopter ride earlier.
The answer was several fold. The primary reason is that there will be a medical person on-board. This ranges from a red cross trained local, to a doctor for severe cases.
The next answer was the cost of fuel. For those that don’t know: Nepal buys its fuel from India through a disputed border and there are regular fuel shortages.
The final answer is to do with health insurance. Most trekkers have it, and everyone knows they are covered to a certain level. So, they cash in.
Moral of the story: If you go trekking in Nepal, or anywhere, make sure you are covered.
Personal note: Trekking above 3,000 to 4,000 meters is often not covered in many travel insurance policies. Do check, and if need be, buy more. It’s cheaper than USD$5,000 plus all the extras you’ll need to be covered.
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 11 (Trekking at night)
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