Top 5 Differences between summiting Mount Everest and trekking to Everest Base Camp
Ever since news broke about the crowds of people queuing up to reach the summit of Mount Everest we have had many people question why they would join the queues. We find ourselves explaining that the queues witnessed in that infamous photograph were taken close to the summit of Mount Everest, that image left us in shock and dismay at the risks facing the people waiting in turn to reach the summit of Everest. There are vast differences between trekking to Everest Base Camp and summiting Mount Everest, we don’t want that image of the queue to put you off trekking to Everest Base Camp, although there are risks involved in trekking to base camp, they are managed and minimal in comparison to the summit climb.
Photo Credit Nims Dai
A trek to Everest Base Camp is 14 days long, you reach an altitude of 5,385m at base camp and then return back down through the Khumbu valley to Lukla. The trek is managed by a team of guides and porters, you stay in trekking lodges, you walk on average 12km’s a day and are encouraged to take it slowly to allow your body to adjust to the altitude. No specialised climbing equipment is required, strong legs and a good pair of hiking boots will be important for this trek.
To summit Mount Everest you require a commitment of up to 3 months in the Everest region. A summit bid requires years of preparation and experience in climbing peaks. The summit of Mount Everest is 8,488m, this is a dangerous and technical climb and should be only attempted by experienced mountaineers, this expeditions requires skills in rope climbing, walking in crampons, traversing over crevices and incredible physical and mental strength to endure the harsh conditions faced. Take on Nepal do not take people to the summit of Mount Everest, our team are fully trained and equipped to guide people to Everest Base Camp and up other mountain peaks but not to the summit of Mount Everest.
The reality is that most people can make it to Everest Base Camp, even without months of training. We always strongly recommend following a strict training regime as this will prepare you for the trek but we also see some people arriving without putting the hours of training in, they make it but will more suffering and discomfort than the people who have trained for the experience.
To summit Mount Everest you need to be on a whole different level of fitness, it takes a minimum of 12 months of gruelling training to reach the summit of the world. You need to gain experience in peak climbing and be experienced in coping with high altitudes. You also need to have extreme mental strength, the ability to push on even when your body is exhausted.
There are risks involved in trekking to Everest Base Camp but they pale in comparison to the risks involved in trekking to the summit of Mount Everest. During the last summit push, 11 climbers died on the mountain. Official figures tell us that the death rate on Mount Everest is around 4% but this figure is a base average, for older climbers the death rates jumps to 25%.
There are no official figures related to deaths of Everest Base Camp trekkers but it is estimated that between 2-4 trekkers lose their lives each year, approximately 30,000 people trek to Base Camp each year. The major cause of death for trekkers to Base Camp is underlying heart problems which is exasperated at high altitude. This highlights the need to undergo a full medical assessment before embarking on the trek, if you have suffered from any heart issues, this needs to be discussed with your doctor. Although the trek to Everest Base Camp is nowhere near as physically demanding as the climb to the summit of Mount Everest you do need to be cleared of any underlying medical issues.
If things go wrong during the trek to Everest Base Camp help is at hand relatively quickly and easily. Our team are trained to recognise the symptoms of altitude sickness, they will often spot the signs early and have a conversation with you about the need to drink more water or to consume more food. Altitude sickness is the main cause of illness during the Everest Base Camp Trek, this is followed by food poisoning. On our treks we always have extra staff available to walk our trekkers down to a lower altitude to allow for recovery from altitude sickness, in worst case scenarios a helicopter can be called for an evacuation from the mountains, helicopter evacuations occur in emergency situations, other avenues are always explored first.
Standing at the base of the worlds highest mountain is affordable, at Take on Nepal we offer all inclusive treks to Base Camp for $2190. We believe that anyone can work towards saving for this trip of a lifetime, it’s not as expensive or inaccessible as many people this it is.
However, a trip to the summit of Mount Everest does require a huge financial commitment, the average summiteer spends approximately $80,000 to stand on top of the world, this is due to the length of time, trained staff and specialised equipment required to undertake an expedition of this enormity.
A trek to Everest Base Camp will certainly give you a sense of what an achievement it is to summit Mount Everest, on the way to base camp you will walk in the same footsteps as all of the mountaineers who summited Mount Everest, you will be constantly reminded of the risks and challenges these brave mountaineers face. For most people reaching base camp is enough, for a tiny percentage of people it plants a seed and a desire to go further and higher.
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