I’ve always been fascinated with Mount Everest. From watching every documentary I could find to reading Into Thin Air to being completely gripped in the theater while watching 2015’s Everest, I’ve always found the mountain — and those who choose to visit it — mysteriously alluring. While I never had the desire to actually summit the world’s highest peak, I did always want to do the next best thing: trek to Mount Everest Base Camp and back. And after tons and tons of planning, that’s exactly what I did this past April (the beginning of the Everest hiking season). Was it amazing? Yes. Was it hard? Harder than I ever thought it would be.
Let me preface this by saying I love to hike. When I lived in New York, I would go upstate every chance I got to hike a mountain or run a trail. I love being outside, and the different challenge (and burn) hiking gives makes me happy. And as an active person who works out four to five days a week, I thought I was fully prepared to take on Mount Everest’s Base Camp trek. After all, so many of the blogs out there talk about how the trek can be quite leisurely, how anyone can do it, and how manageable it all is.
After trekking up to base camp for nine days, finally reaching it and spending the night at 17,600 feet, and trekking back down for four days, I can officially say that it is really f*cking hard. I went with my husband, my sister, my brother-in-law, one other couple, a guide, and two Sherpas through Mountain Gurus (I couldn’t recommend them enough!). We saw people cry, battle altitude sickness, and turn around and go back down. But can anyone do it regardless of their fitness level? Yes, but there are a few catches. Here are nine things you need to know before you try.