The proposed itinerary allows enough time for proper acclimatization, rest days, and several returns to base camp where the kitchen and base camp staff can look after all of your needs, and quell your appetite. The weather at this time of year is normally quite good and stable. However, we all know the global weather is changing, and in case of storms, you will note the proposed itinerary includes extra days as well. In previous expeditions, half of those who reached the summit needed every single "extra" day. back to top
At low elevation, the temperatures can vary from 27°c to -7°c ( 80°f to 20°f). At higher elevations, the temperature can vary from 16°c to -23°c (60°f to -10°f). The wind is the most chilling factor, and can be quite variable, with everything from a flat calm, to hurricane force on the summit. There may be deep snow, heavy rains, mosquitoes in wet areas, blowing dust, burning heat, bright sunshine.
Arriving in Kathmandu-
The trip begins in the ancient and colorful city of Kathmandu (you could also start in Beijing). You stay in a comfortable, simple, clean, hot-water hotel, at minimal cost and sample some of the very reasonably-priced tasty Nepalese, Tibetan and Western-Style cuisine, available at the hundreds of local restaurants. During your free days in Kathmandu, while your Chinese visa is being processed, you shall finalize arrangements, purchase and hire the bits of equipment you might be missing at the hundreds of mountain-climbing and trekking equipment shops in the neighborhood (with low prices, as well), and take time out for trinket hunting, with suggested visits to explore the 17th century splendors of the Monkey Temple, the Durbar Square and old Kings Palace, as well as the ancient cities of Patan, and Bakhtapur. We also have several member and training sessions during these days, where our leaders spend time with you reviewing climbing techniques and equipment, going over medical and safety procedures, etcetera. If you are concerned about the altitude and have purchased Diamox (acetylzolamide) , which is inexpensively available with no doctor's prescription in Kathmandu, this might be the time to begin taking it. back to top
Optional Tour of Lhasa-
Some members wish to add an optional trip to Lhasa before reaching basecamp. If this includes you, most members will fly to Kathmandu first, then to Lhasa. Some people prefer to fly to Lhasa from another city in China and we can also assist you with these arrangements. For those flying from Kathmandu, you take a 1 hour and 45 minute flight in a jet over Mt. Everest and the spine of the Himalaya, arriving in Tibet's capital city. In the past, we have had some fabulous views out of the plane windows during this flight.
At 3650 metres/12,000 feet of elevation, Lhasa was established around 600 AD on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. The heart of the city is centered around the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred building in all of Tibet. Our simple hotel is not too far from the famous Potale palace, Jokhang palace and the renowned Barkhor Market, where you can shop for exotic handicrafts and religious art from all across Tibet, China, and Buddhist India.
After flying to Lhasa, upon arrival you will rest for 2 nights and one day. It's important that you use the rest day to get acclimated to the high altitude.
Buddhist pilgrims from Amdo region circumambulating the Jokhang Temple in the Barkhor market. Photo: J. Otto.
It is a three day drive from Lhasa to basecamp. From Lhasa, you will set out in government cars across the Tibetan plateau to meet the rest of the team in Tingri, before reaching Everest basecamp.
The following morning after your day in Lhasa, you will drive to Shigatse at 3650 metres/12,000 feet, the second largest city in Tibet, with a famous Monastery. The road winds along the massive Brahmaputra River, past traditional warren-like Tibetan farm towns. In Shigatse, you can have a look around and try to visit the 15th century Tashilunpo Monastery, the largest active monastic institution in Tibet. Monks in maroon robes seem to be everywhere, going about their daily chores, praying, and practicing ceremonial music performances.
After Shigatse, you will make the scenic drive to the ancient city of Lhaze (Lhatse), at 4000 metres/13,100 feet . At the western end of town is the small Changmoche Monastery, which you may visit while there. You can see interesting views of the surrounding Tibetan plateaus and hills.
From Lhaze, it is another scenic drive to the town of Tingri at 4,342 meters/14,200 feet, where you will meet up with the rest of the team and continue towards Everest basecamp. back to top
The Tashilunpo Monastery in Shigatse, where more than 700 monks live and worship in the Buddhist religion. (Photo: J. Otto)
A Tibetan farmer brings his goods to market on the road near Lhaze. (Photo D.L. Mazur)
Driving to Basecamp-
After the finalization of your Chinese visa, we set out very early in a bus for the 4 hour drive to the last Nepal town of Kodari at 1,770 meters/5,800 feet. We clear Nepalese customs and immigration, then hire local porters and vehicles to carry your bags across the Bota Kosi River on the Friendship Bridge, to Zhangmu, the gateway town in Tibet.
On the Friendship Bridge, border Crossing between Nepal and Tibet (Bruce Manning).
Upon entering Tibet, the clocks immediately go forward by 2 ¼ hours. Our secondary government liaison officer will meet us in Zhangmu. After clearing Tibetan customs and immigration, a Chinese bus takes us up the windy road through the rolling hills to Nyalam town at 3750 meters/12,300 feet, and a basic "hotel". The smaller towns in Tibet are generally simple and rustic places, and this one is no exception. The topography here is quite interesting in that we are perched in the transitional zone where the Tibetan plateau rams into the Himalaya, then drops into the forested valleys and jungles of Nepal, and finally out into the Gangetic plain of the Terai and India. We stay over one extra night in Nyalam, to help adjust to the altitude, and during our "rest-day" in Nyalam, we take advantage of the interesting surroundings to walk to the top of local hills and savor the first glimpses of the Himalayan Giants. back to top
Bouldering in Nyalam on our rest day (Felix Berg). On the road to Tingri, Himalayan Giants in the background (DL Mazur). Our sturdy Tibetan trucks carry the equipment, here being loaded by our Sherpas (Tim Spear).
In the morning we continue our bus-ascent into the Tibetan plateau, to the town of Tingri at 4,342 meters/14,200 feet. There are superb views of Shishapangma, Cho-Oyu, and Everest as we drive into Tingri. The town itself is a very basic one-street hamlet surrounded by the tents of nomadic Tibetans. About ½ of all ethnic Tibetans living in Tibet are nomadic or semi-nomadic. Our extremely rustic little hotel has an adequate restaurant, and it will be interesting to see if the high altitude has quelled our appetites for tasty fresh food. There are the ruins of an old fortress on a rise above town, and from here we can see the finest views of Everest , Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, and Shishipangma. We will take a rest day the following day in Tingri to adjust to the altitude.
A stop along the road near Tingri. There is a simply developed hot springs here. Only the very brave are able to tempt fate by entering the dirty water(Bruce Manning). back to top
The following morning, after what for many is a relatively sleep-free night, we drive the 70 kilometers/40 miles, to Everest base camp at around 5,200 meters/17,000 feet. The drive follows a dirt road along the Rongbuk Valley and has spectacular views of the Himalaya. Chinese base camp is located just near the medieval and active Rongbuk Monastery.
We will spend another 5 days resting, acclimatising, exploring the surrounding hills and organizing equipment into Yak loads at Chinese base.
Preparing our yak loads at Chinese basecamp (Bruce Manning). Blue mountain sheep in the cliffs above basecamp (Felix Berg). back to top
Moving to Advanced Basecamp-
We then spend the next day moving up to the "interim camp", which is located at 5,800 metres/19,000 feet, and halfway to the "advanced basecamp (ABC)". We will also take 2 rest days to acclimate to the change in altitude.
Yak train heading up to interim camp (Bruce Manning). Interim Camp at 5800 metres/19,000 feet, where we acclimate for a day or two before heading up to ABC (Tim Spear).
Next, we spend two days working our way up to ABC. 6,400 meters/21,000 feet, ABC must be the highest basecamp in the world. It is located on a rocky moraine next to the Rongbuk Glacier.
Franck walking up the Rongbuk to ABC (Tim Spear). Our comfortable ABC at 6400 metres/21,000 feet, A view of the mountain at sunset from ABC (Ryan Waters).
Upon reaching ABC, we will take another rest and acclimatization day, this time going over our equipment, safety procedures, climbing techniques, cooking and camping methods, and working to form ourselves into a more cohesive team. back to top
Climbing Lhakpa Ri or the North Col