Everest Base Camp Trek: Physical and Mental Conditioning for a Successful Trek
Trekking 4-7 hours a day at high altitude for 11 days to reach the base camp of Mount Everest is not an easy feat for a regular individual.
Although this Everest Base Camp trek is not a very technical climb and you don’t have to be a seasoned trekker to accomplish this goal, it is important that you are physically and mentally prepared for this epic adventure.
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It’s an advantage if you regularly work out and exercise as part of your daily life.
If you’re already walking, biking or swimming the whole year round, your already one step ahead of your cardio training.
Adding in certain routines like stair training, trail running and hiking and up and down the hills will bring your training to the next level.
Consider performing cardiovascular fitness training at least 6 months before the trek for 30 minutes, four times a week. Each month, add 10-15 minutes to each routine and increase the frequency to six times a week.
It is recommended to wear your day-pack or a weighted vest to simulate the weight that you’ll carry during the trek as well as get your back and shoulders accustomed to the load.
Geared at conditioning your leg muscles, shoulders, abdomen and back, strength training should be an integral part of your overall training in preparation for the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Aside from your aerobic and cardiovascular training, incorporate key strength training routines like pull ups, sit ups, crunches and military presses. Do strength training at least six months prior to the trek, three times a week and 30 minutes per routine.
Increase the frequency and duration of the routines as the trip draws near, but make sure to vary them so you don’t get bored easily.
However, Listen to your body. Don’t train beyond overexertion.
Trekking and Altitude Conditioning
It’s also ideal to include trekking and altitude conditioning in the preparation process. Remember that you will not just be trekking on a flat terrain; there will be hills and slopes that you’ll need to climb in challenging inclines.
You wouldn’t be able to fully prepare for what’s in store for you during the trek proper, but you can do as much trekking as you can while at home.
To start with, you can take long walks around the city. Trekking the city while it snows is also a good way to simulate the real trek to the base camp.
Another great way to improve your trekking conditioning is to find a steep trail outdoors and trek it several times. Try to ascend around 2,000 feet of the trail with 15 pounds of load on your back. To make the training easier, bring jugs of water on your pack so you can just dump them at the top before making the descent.
Try to increase the mileage, load, and speed in each trek. This should help you become more accustomed to trekking in elevation.
It’s also important to include altitude training in your preparation. While you can never truly prepare for the real altitude of Mt. Everest Base Camp, you can include stair training in your routines. Climb the stairs for as hard as your body can manage, then go back down in a slower and steady pace. Don’t forget to wear your pack as you do this.
Important caveat: find a good pair of boots to wear several months before the trek and use them while you’re physically conditioning to truly break those boots in.
Go on a day trek wearing the gear you intend to wear on the trek proper to see if they are good and durable. This way, you’ll have more time to find a better replacement if needed without cramming.
It would be best to keep realistic expectations of the trip, from the logistics to the challenges along the way in order to have a sound frame of mind the entire trek duration.
Please keep in mind that teahouse accommodations in Nepal are basic but efficient.
Toilet situations could be challenging at times so try to be creative and resourceful when needed. Reach out to people who have tried trekking the base camp and learn from their stories.
This way, you’ll be more mentally-equipped to handle challenges and bring optimism to the forefront.
Another important caveat: altitude sickness can rob you of your physical and mental energy during the trek. Keep yourself hydrated, eat healthy food and bring adequate medication. If required, let your guide know that you’re experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness and make a descent.
Remember, getting to the base camp is not a race, it is an experience. Descending for the meantime is not losing, but just a safety protocol for you and your group.
Mt. Everest Base Camp will be a totally different trekking experience from your training, but once you’re all physically and mentally set-up, you should be good to go. Keep in mind that the trek is not a marathon and you should value your safety above all else. When you get there, you’ll see that months of training have served you well.