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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Everest Base Camp Trek in December and January

Everest Base Camp Trek in winter

The Everest Base Camp trek needs no introduction. It tops the bucket list of every adventurer. For every trekking season, this camp of the world’s highest mountain welcomes around 40,000 trekkers. Wohooo, that’s literally half the capacity of some of the largest stadiums in Australia. What about trekking in the off-season, like winter? Do trekkers really hit the trekking trail in December?

As winter sets in, the trail slows, with the fewest travelers braving the coldest temperature in the Everest region. Usually, trekkers avoid the winter season. If you Google the best time to do the Everest Base Camp, it’s everyone’s favorite spring and autumn seasons. That is the very reason the trail to EBC gets overcrowded. So, when’s the trail really not-so-crowded? When does the trail whisper the secrets of solitude and tranquility? The answer is…drum roll, please…winter.

There is no denying that winter is generally not recommended for any trek in Nepal because of cold temperatures. But, if you are prepared for coldness, there are positive aspects to undertaking this trek. In fact, there are a few notable and distinct perks of embarking on an adventure to EBC in December.

Top ten thing you must know before you trek to EBC in the winter

  1. The temperature can plummet to -zero levels, with the possibility of snowstorms and strong winds.
  2. The temperature at the EBC at night can drop as low as -20 degrees.
  3. Many teahouses along the trail remain closed, and very few serve basic amenities.
  4. Your body can develop altitude sickness before you reach Namche Bazaar, i.e., on 2nd day of the trek.
  5. It could possibly snow during the day with poor visibility and throughout the night.
  6. Unlike in peak seasons, the trails are sometimes snow-covered, with frozen rivers and snow-laden trees along the trail.
  7. If you are a keen observer, you might spot winter wildlife like snow leopards, Himalayan thar, and birds.
  8. With fewer trekkers heading to the EBC, you can enjoy a quieter trail and personalized teahouse experience.
  9. Winter days have short daylight hours, limiting the available time for trekking activities.
  10. Flights in an out of Lukla are much more reliable due to clear skies and less traffic.

Everest Base Camp Trek in December

The Everest Base Camp trek in December is completely doable. With sunny days and unoccupied trails, December is definitely the month of the year for the EBC trek. Now, you may ask, do people even trek in winter? Yes, but a scant few trekkers do it. Despite the colder conditions, the Everest Base Camp trek in December is an excellent time for those seeking quiet and more serene adventure to the base camp.

The crisp mountain air carries a sense of solitude as Everest and surrounding peaks glisten in the winter sun. While the temperatures can be chilly, the clear skies during this month provide unparalleled views. The trek takes on a quieter charm, with fewer fellow trekkers, allowing for a more intimate connection and a chance to appreciate the tranquility of the region.

Weather for Everest Base Camp Trek in December

Oh, the weather! It’s quite challenging to brave the weather during winter in the Everest region. But the weather shouldn’t deter you. If you are well prepared for the unique set of weather conditions, the trek is rewarding. While daytime temperature is usually average, night and evening temperatures, especially at higher altitudes, can be harsh and frigid.

Daytime temperatures at lower elevations, such as Lukla, may range from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit). Nighttime temperature in locations like Kala Patthar and the Everest Base Camp itself can plummet to -20°C or even lower. As you ascend to higher altitudes, temperatures can drop significantly, reaching well below freezing, especially during the night. Below is the approximate temperate range for some popular rest stops en route to Everest Base Camp.

Let’s check the general temperatures estimate of day and night during December. Please note that these are approximate values, and the temperatures can vary.

Location Day Temperature Night Temperature
Lukla 8°C to 12°C -5°C to 0°C
Namche Bazaar 4°C to 8°C -8°C to 2°C
Tengboche 2°C to 6°C -10°C to -4°C
Dingboche -2°C to 2°C -15°C to -8°C
Gorak Shep -5°C to 0°C -20°C to -12°C
Kala Patthar -10°C to -5°C -25°C to 15°C
Everest Base Camp -3°C to -2°C -18°C to -10°C

Risks of trekking the Everest Base Camp in winter

There are certain risks of trekking the Everest Base Camp during winter season, also referred to as off-season. Below are some risks that you must carefully consider.

Extreme Cold Temperature:

One of the risks faced by trekkers in the winter months is the extreme cold, especially during night and early mornings. You can neither start too early in the morning nor finish the trek late due to coldness. In higher altitudes like Kala Patthar and the Everest Base Camp itself, the temperatures can plummet to sub-zero levels.

Fewer Resources:

We hate to say this, but most teahouses and services in the Everest region remain limited during the off-season. Winter season is often associated with scarcity, like limited facilities, and the availability of supplies could be more restricted. The colder temperatures can limit the availability of certain supplies, and trekkers should anticipate simpler menus and fewer choices. Most teahouses remain closed during winter due to low tourism activities.

Predictable Weather Conditions:

The Everest region is no stranger to unpredictable weather conditions but in the Winter season the weather is much more predictable. You can expect clear blue skies and sunshine during the day. This is the risk of some snow but this is usually in the evenings and early mornings.

Preparation for winter Everest Base Camp Trek

Now that you understand the risks of trekking the Everest Base Camp in winter, it is advisable to prepare thoroughly for the adventure. And honestly, it is more than just packing the warm clothes and gear. The harsh weather conditions and sub-zero temperatures make this journey a test of endurance and resilience.

Winter treks, especially at high altitudes, require a higher level of physical fitness. You must engage in a progressive training routine for at least 2 months before the trek. Your training should incorporate cardiovascular exercises like running and strength training to prepare muscles for the trek through rugged terrains. You must be mentally prepared for challenging days, varying weather conditions, isolation and limited facilities.

Acclimatization is crucial when trekking at high altitude, particularly during winter when the trek window is short; as we mentioned earlier, you cannot start early and finish late due to frigid temperatures. Prioritizing a gradual ascent is essential, allowing the body time to acclimate to higher altitudes. Staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water is crucial. Adequate rest and pacing oneself during the trek are vital, avoiding overexertion and allowing the body to adjust.

When it comes to packing, pack strategically. Insulated and waterproof clothing, including thermal layers, down jackets, waterproof pants, and sturdy trekking boots, are essential. Don’t forget accessories like gloves, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the biting cold and snow glare. Make sure your sleeping bags can withstand sub-zero temperatures.

Why we believe it is best to trek to Everest Base Camp in winter?

We believe trekking to Everest Base Camp in winter is the best time and for good reasons. For starters, the less-crowded trails and the serene, snow-covered landscape are two highlights worth considering. If you hate to walk through crowded trails, you should definitely reschedule your trek to December. The unmatched beauty of the snow-covered landscape appeals to a certain breed of adventurers. Winter often brings clear skies, offering unobstructed views of the Himalayas. Adding to this, winter is an excellent time for spectacular sunsets and sunrises.

As winter rolls in, the chances of rainfall are almost null, signifying a period of drier conditions, unlike in monsoon. With fewer trekkers around, there is a greater opportunity for meaningful interactions with the local Sherpa communities. The slower pace allows for more in-depth cultural exchanges and adds a valuable cultural dimension to the trek. The winter scenery offers unique photography opportunities: frozen lakes and waterfalls, snow-covered landscapes, scenes of villages, and lush trees blanketed in a layer of snow.

What to bring for winter EBC trek

When it comes to packing for any treks in Nepal, the packing list remains largely consistent. Check the packing list below for your Everest Base Camp trek in winter. This packing list serves as a general guide for winter trek. Adjust it based on your personal preferences for EBC trek.

  • Down or synthetic insulated jacket
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Insulated and waterproof pants
  • Moisture-wicking thermal pairs
  • Fleece or softshell jacket
  • Trekking pants
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Neck gaiter
  • Quick dry towel
  • Backpack
  • Winter Sleeping bag with liner
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamps
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, deodorant
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • Passport and its photocopy
  • Passport-size photos for trekking permits
  • Travel Insurance document

Can you climb Everest summit in the winter?

Yes, you can climb Everest in winter, but it’s an extremely challenging and risky endeavor. It is reported that 6664 people have summited the mighty Everest as of December 2023. And the list of people who climbed the Everest in winter shrinks to just a mere 15- that’s approximately 0.225%. You can imagine the challenging nature of climbing the Everest in winter.

Dr. Robert Szymczak of Poland claims that there is extremely thin air on the summit of Everest in winter and that winter climbers need even better acclimatization than usual to deal with the greater risk of altitude-related sickness. Furthermore, he says that the air temperature and wind speed during normal climbing season is approximately -26 degrees Celsius on the summit of Everest, but it changes drastically in winter, averaging -36 degrees Celsius.

So, yeah, you can climb Everest in the winter, but it’s highly unlikely that you will accomplish it.

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