A trek of this magnitude does teach you a thing or two! Here are my key takeaways, not in any particular order.
PLANNING & PREPARATION
- The key to a good plan is to plan early & prepare well. Watch as many trek videos on youtube as you can, read as many Tripadvisor forums as you can & gather as much information as you can. In short, get as much idea as you can so that you’re not taken by surprise at any point.
- There aren’t too many airlines operating to Kathmandu from India so be sure which one to book. It’ll be helpful to know of the airline’s fleet strength, punctuality & safety record.
- Keep a day surplus at either ends to cater for delays, cancellations & unexpected contingencies.
- Negotiate a good price with your trekking agent. Be sure of the inclusions & exclusions. Ask him to provide you the sleeping bag & trekking poles as complimentary so that will save you the hassle of carrying them on the international flight with you.
Of course you need to be sure of your capabilities to do the EBC trek. Its not very strenuous & if you have a good guide he will pace it well for you, but its not a cakewalk either by any means! If you have planned in advance, use the time to get into a physical fitness & cardio regime to get into shape.
CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
- You will read a lot about what to wear & how to wear it. Layering is the key. Keep yourself light & mobile.
- Buy a good pair of trekking shoes. That’s the best investment you’ll make in the clothing department! I bought a pair of Quechuas from Decathlon, Gurgaon.
- You will need a good pair of sunglasses with a strong uv protection. I bought myself a pair again from Decathlon but they turned out to be more of a hindrance than help as the glasses kept on fogging up every few mins because of the breath rising up the face due to the face muff. I have now bought a pair with vents on the upper frame to let the vapours pass through. Will be using them on my next trek to better results hopefully.
- Carry a good daypack. This is the only item you’ll be lugging on your back & it better be nice & comfortable to wear.
CAMERAS & ELECTRONICS
If you are a fond & professional photographer, carry your DSLRs & the multiple lenses & tripods by all means. But remember that all those are costly equipment & you’d have to carry them on your person all the time in addition to your 7-10 kgs daypack, a prospect which doesn’t seem very exciting halfway up the 15000 ft hill!
For me, my mobile phone camera worked well. The 8 mega pixel shooter was good enough to capture decent images without making them too heavy for social media uploads. Of course I was also carrying a small Nikon digicam as a backup. Be sure to carry your power bank & be sure to keep charging all your equipment regularly on the trek, of course at a price 🙂
I saw some trekkers carrying solar panels on their daypacks to charge their electronics on the go. With the unpredictable weather in the high Himalayas I wonder whether it was really worth carrying that extra weight on their backs. I had toyed with the idea too but dropped it when I didn’t find too many positive & encouraging reviews of the same.
SNACKS & EATABLES
Carry chocolates, protein bars, dry fruits, cheese slices & whatever else that can give you energy. Water discipline is very important. Carry chlorine tablets. To eliminate its peculiar taste & also act as a rehydrating salt, carry Tang or Glucose in different flavours. Morning & evening tea lovers like me can carry Girnar tea sachets (order from Amazon). Just buy/request a cup of hot water & you’re good to go.
SIM & DATA CARD, CURRENCY
Like I have said in the Part I of the EBC blog, you can buy a local Nepalese sim from Thamel or anywhere else in Kathmandu. This sim will serve you well for most of the trek except at Gorakshep & ahead for which, if you really have to, you can use the local Khumbu area satellite phone like service that they have there (I’m forgetting the exact term for that). Of course its not very cheap & if you can tell your folks back home that you’ll be out of touch for a couple of days then you should. On the sim you don’t need calling minutes. Just invest in a decent data plan which will be good for whatsapp calling back home as well as for social media uploads of your pics.
Calculate how much Nepalese currency you might need on the trek, add 10% to that & exchange at Kathmandu. Up the climb, you will need money for your hot water showers, to pay for charging of your phones, cameras & power banks, for your morning & evening cups of hot water (some lodges can offer this as complimentary too), for your shopping from Namche Bazar & finally to tip your guide & the porter.
The list is by no means complete or limited to the above & you are welcome to add your suggestions in the comments section.