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Everest Base Camp

It sounded straightforward. Put one foot in front of another, repeat for six hours. Replenish with copious amounts of black tea and restless sleep, repeat for eight days. Get to Everest, take photo, turn around and scoot back down, making up for every beer that you denied yourself on the way up. Easy.
But at five thousand metres, putting one foot in front of the other suddenly didn’t seem quite as simple – nor did drinking tea or lying down. In fact, all I seemed capable of doing was throwing up over myself whilst losing my balance. And, as the rest of the trekking party powered up the dusty moraine, I reluctantly admitted that getting to the bottom of the top of the world was getting the better of me. 
The Everest Base Camp trek is one of the world’s classic treks. There are several variations but trekkers usually start from the high mountain airstrip of Lukla, taking 11 days to wind up the Khumbu valley to Everest Base Camp and the nearby rocky peak of Kala Patthar, before turning tail and heading south for thick air and cold beers. 
There are three ways of tackling it: on your own, signing up with a local outfit or booking it from the UK. But no matter how you get yourself to the start of the trail, there’s only one way you’re going to get to the other end: under your own steam. Make no mistake, reaching Everest Base Camp might star in all those ‘before-you-die’ lists, but the continual walking, cold temperatures, basic accommodation and thinning air could stop you dead in your tracks. However, despite a rating of ‘strenuous’, it’s still the most popular trek in the Himalaya, if not the world. 
We were a crack team of eleven: Tracey (an adventurous deputy-head from Ealing), Tony, Eric, Rob and Mike (four bankers denying responsibility for the credit crunch), Phil (warming up for Siberia), Deaglan (an exuberant Irish medic en-route to Oz), Lindsey (a determined divorcee from the Wirral) and the Webster family from Bristol (Julie and Martin hoping to give their teenage son, Chris, a taste for the trekking life). Instantly identifiable as Brits, we were wrapped up in a sombre riot of green-and-blue Gore-Tex and clashing Buffs, neatly taken care of by trekking leader Raj, his assistant leaders and a team of inhumanly fit porters. 
Our motivations for tackling Everest Base Camp (EBC to those in the know) were as mixed as our fashion sense, but Rob summed up the majority view: “Everest is the Big One and I wanted to go and see it – I’m not getting any younger.” His colleague Tony took a more pragmatic slant: “Rob booked it and we’d never hear the last of it if we didn’t turn up – it’s called self-preservation.”
Whilst Everest is the hook, the eleven days are not just about the attention-seeking superstar, you also get an ever-changing backdrop of supporting cast, including Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Pumori and the rather dashing Ama Dablam. And, whilst it might be an over-exposed landscape, no coffee-table book will manage to convey the feeling of being there: the burning thighs, the gasping lungs, the smell of sweet, black tea, the strange, hallucinogenic dreams of altitude and the breathtaking sense of scale.
Us uncoordinated Brits were joined by a multitude of others out on the trail: dreadlocked students carrying over-sized sacks; stern Germans, gaitered-up and power-walking; sturdy Sherpas, bent double under improbable loads; box-fresh Americans, with every conceivable gadget clipped to the outside of their packs; bad-tempered yaks, laden with blue expedition barrels; far-out families, sun-blonde kids carelessly lashed to a Sherpa’s back; be-logoed seven-summiteers, shepherded by hollow-cheeked mountain guides; the occasional pair of climbers, marked out by bad tights, a determined stomp and twin axes; overweight mid-life-crisisers looking set to pop; an entire cricket team – complete with wickets. And everyone buzzing with excitement, all here for one reason: the Big E.

The Big E
(average rating, based on 21 reviews)
Trip type: 
Walking & Trekking
Trekking level: 
5. Strenuous
Max group size: 

Everest Base Camp (2013)

Asia, Nepal | 18 days
Trip code: 
Trekking holiday to Everest Base Camp - Nepal
Everest is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights - a perfect place for adventure!

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