Mount Everest Lodge Trek, Nepal

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14695A, International

Highlights

  • Trek 17 days in the shadow of Everest and in the homeland of the Sherpas
  • Explore Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur on a sightseeing tour with a guide
  • Enjoy an optional day hike to Everest Base Camp

Includes

  • Double occupancy at Hotel Tibet and in lodges during trek with guides and porters
  • All meals, transfers, gratuities, and park fees
  • Round-trip in-country flight: Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu

Details

DatesOct 23–Nov 14, 2014
Price$3,595
Deposit$200
Capacity14
StaffKate Froman

Trip Overview

The Trip

No mountain is more famous than Everest, and when you stand on a ridge at 18,400 feet, it towers above you for another two miles. We will make a pilgrimage to Sagarmatha (as the Nepalese call it), traveling through Sherpa villages and visiting Buddhist monasteries along the way. The intermingling of Hindu and Buddhist traditions creates a unique culture. The contagious warmth of the Nepalese people draws the visitor to them. "Namaste" (the customary greeting that translates as "I salute the God within you") will become a part of your vocabulary for life.

The Himalayas are the highest and the youngest mountain range on Earth. We will walk on well-established foot trails teeming with trekkers, local people driving sheep and goats, and porters carrying crates of eggs, beer, and duffle bags. We will enjoy an experience similar to that of world-class climbers, except that we stop at the foot of the peaks. This classic trek has been lengthened by several days so that we can hike shorter distances and have more time at the lodges to enjoy the local life and to acclimatize.

Nepal is a country of peaceful and hospitable people, colorful bazaars, decorated temples, and great natural beauty. In step with recent world changes, it has been transformed into a constitutional monarchy with an active democracy movement. The Kathmandu Valley is a microcosm of the country. Its three major cities -- Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur -- are a melting pot of many tribal, ethnic, and religious groups.

This trek involves hiking at high altitudes for an extended period of time and is rated moderately strenuous. This trip is for veteran trekkers as well as those with hiking skills who are new to trekking and are open to travel in a developing country.

 

Itinerary

Day 1: You will be met at the Kathmandu airport and taken to Hotel Tibet, a delightful, quiet place. You should plan to spend some time in the rooftop garden, getting familiar with the sights and sounds of Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free until the welcome dinner and orientation meeting.

Day 2: Today we'll enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Kathmandu with a guide and a van, including: Swayambunath (also known as the Monkey Temple); Bodhnath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal; Pashupatinath, Nepal’s biggest Hindu shrine; and Durbar Square in Patan. After dinner we will pack our duffle bags and sleep off the last of our jet lag.

Day 3: The trek begins with an early-morning flight to Lukla (9,383 feet elevation) and one of the most exciting locations for an airport in the world. After meeting our porters and seeing them set off, we will have breakfast and hike to our lodge at Phakding, 9,200 feet, stopping for tea and cookies, photographs, and lunch on the way. It'll be a three-hour hike, with small amounts of ups and downs.

Day 4: Today we'll hike from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,285 feet elevation, elevation gain of 2,000 feet, 5-6 hours steadily uphill). We will cross several swinging bridges and may have to step off the trail to let flocks of sheep, giggling school children, and foraging goats pass by. This is the largest village in the area and there are many shops and markets to explore.

Day 5: This is a rest and acclimatization day, with an optional hike to the National Park Center and the Sherpa Museum. You will have time to try the several bakeries in the area and to wander the teeming streets of this famous jumping-off spot for Everest climbers.

Day 6: Today we may glimpse Everest, Ama Dablam, and Lhotse as we walk to Tengboche (12,700 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,500 feet, and 5-6 hours hiking). This stunning monastery sits on a ridge overlooking a pine and rhododendron forest.

Day 7: We have a rest day here to adjust to the increasing altitude. We may be awakened by cymbals and horns as the monks are called for prayers. We can sit with them as soon as our guide has gotten permission. You are free to explore the village and to visit the Sacred Lands Center next to the monastery. We'll be able to take an optional hike to a nunnery.

Day 8: We'll hike to Dingboche (14,465 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,700 feet, 4-5 hours), passing beside long mani walls.

Day 9: Today we'll hike to Chhukhung (15,515 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,050 feet, 2-3 hours). This is a broad, tundra-like valley dominated by Ama Dablam on one side and Lhotse on the other.

Day 10: Here we'll have another layover (rest) day, with a hike to Chhukhung Ri (17,600 feet elevation, elevation gain of 2,000 feet, 2-3 hours). The view from the top is awe-inspiring. This will be one of the highlights of our trip. This hike is an important part of our acclimatization process as it prepares us for the final climb to Kala Patar. Sleeping at this elevation is also an important part of the process. We will be back at our lodge in time for a nap.

Day 11: Again, we'll hike back to Dingboche (elevation 14,465 feet, elevation loss of 1,700 feet, 2 hours).

Day 12: Today we'll hike to Lobouche (16,175 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,700 feet, 3-4 hours). This trail goes up steeply in places and tops out at a ridge with a number of chortens, cairns, and prayer flags to honor those who have died in the mountains. We will look back down the valley for magnificent views.

Day 13: Today we'll hike to Gorak Shep (17,100 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,000 feet, 4 hours). Here you can rest for the climb to Kala Patar tomorrow or consider taking the optional day hike to Everest Base Camp, a 5-mile round-trip that could take 4-5 hours. Our guide will determine if we are fit enough and the weather is fine enough for this option.

Day 14: We will get up and pack up our duffle bags so our porters can get started and hike to Kala Pattar (18,448 feet elevation, elevation gain of 1,348 feet, 1.5-2 hours) for the best view of Everest and the surrounding peaks. We hope the skies will be clear, as they usually are in the morning. When the wind comes up, we will descend and continue hiking back to Lobouche (16,175 feet elevation, elevation loss of 2,000 feet, 4-5 hours).

Day 15: We will walk to Pheriche (13,911 feet elevation, elevation loss of 2,200 feet, 3-4 hours). This hike may prompt some to say that hiking downhill is more demanding than hiking uphill. Pheriche is a small village with a Health Post of the Himalayan Rescue Association, but it will probably not be open since it is not climbing season.

Day 16: Today we will hike to Phortse (12,467 feet elevation, elevation loss 1,450 feet, 4.5 hours). Phortse is a pleasant Sherpa village with stone walled fields planted with buckwheat and potatoes. Yaks graze here and we may see Tengboche and Namche Bazaar in the distance.

Day 17: Today we will hike to Khumjung (12,430 feet elevation, elevation loss and gain of 1,000 feet). This is an up and down day, and a short one. We will arrive by lunchtime and have plenty of time to do our laundry along with the locals at the village tap.

Day 18: This will be our last rest day on the trek. We will visit the monastery, the hospital, and, perhaps, spend some quality time at the world’s highest bakery. Wherever you look, you will have a great view.

Day 19: Today we will return to Phakding (9,200 feet elevation, elevation loss of 3,200 feet), passing through Namche Bazaar and taking our last walk down the winding streets.

Day 20: We'll hike to Lukla (9,383 feet elevation) and prepare for our end-of-trek dinner and dance with our entire staff. There will be singing, dancing, drumming, toasts, and speeches, and it will be over too soon.

Day 21: Today we'll fly back to Kathmandu for a free afternoon and time to shop for that special T-shirt or rug.

Day 22: We have a half day of sightseeing in Bhaktapur. The rest of the day will be spent packing and getting ready for our final evening together.

Day 23: After breakfast we will leave Nepal and most of us will hope to return. Transportation is provided to the airport.

Photos

Details

Getting There

A number of airlines fly to Nepal: Thai, Cathay Pacific, Qatar. You will make your own travel arrangements to Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal. The leader can assist you with your plans. You may need to spend a night in Bangkok coming and going. There are also connecting flights from New Delhi, India to Kathmandu. It is recommended that you plan to arrive at least one day early to recover from jet lag and to allow for delays.

You will need a valid passport to participate on this trip. It must be valid for at least six months beyond the end of this trip, November 16. You will also require a Nepal visa. Information on this will be provided after you have been approved for this trip. If you are planning on other travels you may need additional visas.

Certain immunizations are advisable and information will be provided.

Accommodations and Food

We will be sleeping and eating in trekking lodges and tea houses that are more spartan than similar huts found in Europe, but they have comfortable beds with clean mattresses and pillows. There is usually a "night toilet" (available only at night) so you will not have to go out at night to the outhouse. The bedrooms are not heated and usually have an overhead light. Hot showers are sometimes available for a price, but this is not included.

The food is plentiful and delicious, with a large menu to choose from. The selection tends to be the same at most lodges. A typical breakfast: oatmeal, toast, omelet or pancake, and even french fries. Lunch and dinner might be noodle soup, stir-fried veggies and rice, pizza, or macaroni with tomato sauce and cheese. All of our drinking water is boiled and we will treat it with chlorine-based tablets that will be provided.

Every day our schedule is the same. Breakfast is at 7 a.m. Before breakfast we pack our duffles, keeping only what we plan to carry in our day packs. After breakfast we walk for about two hours and stop for tea and cookies. We will walk for 2-3 hours and stop for a leisurely lunch. We usually arrive at our lodge by 4 p.m.

Trip Difficulty

Trekking is walking, generally on well-traveled trails with ascents and descents while carrying a 10- to 12-pound day pack. This trip is rated moderately strenuous because of the altitude: 9,300-18,400 feet. Those with intermediate to advanced hiking experience and a willingness to physically prepare for the rigors of this trip are welcome to sign up. The rewards are commensurate with the required commitment and effort. There is very little level terrain on this trek. You should be comfortable hiking 5-8 miles a day with some altitude gains and losses of more than 3,000 feet. There will be many suspension bridges to cross.

While this is a non-technical trek, it is physically demanding. Any experienced hiker can successfully complete and enjoy this trip. What this requires is that you be in excellent physical shape before the trip starts. You will need a regular program -- to increase not only your cardiovascular endurance, but muscle and joint strength and endurance for the daily up and down hiking. Trying to get in shape a month or two before the trip just does not work.

Four rest days are planned during the trek, with optional day hikes. However, these may be used to adjust for weather or other contingencies. The trek has been designed to gradually acclimatize you to altitude. The majority of our overnight stays are over 11,000 feet and the highest lodge is at 17,000 feet.

October and November are an ideal time for trekking in the high country. It is generally dry; however, there may be snow on the ground at high altitudes and on the passes. The weather in the mountains is always variable -- even on the sunniest day it is not unusual for sudden thunderstorms or a major weather system to move in. Nighttime temperatures can be near or below freezing. Daytime temperatures can reach as high as the upper 70s. Come prepared for wind, rain, snow, sleet, and cold, and expect to have the usual weather pattern: warm and sunny mornings, cool and cloudy afternoons, and cold nights.

Equipment and Clothing

The leader will provide a specific and detailed equipment list that is unique to this outing to approved participants. A sleeping bag rated to zero is highly recommended.

References

  • Lonely Planet, Nepal. An excellent overview of history, religion, and culture, with good sections on Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.
  • Reynolds, Kev, Everest: A Trekker’s Guide (Cicerone Guide).
  • Matthews, Robert, A Few Moments in Nepal.
  • Iyer, Pico, Video Nights in Kathmandu.
  • Greenwald, Jeff, Shopping for Buddhas.
  • Breashears, David and Jon Krakauer. High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Unforgiving Places.

Conservation

Nepal suffers from the same ecological problems common to most of the third world: a growing population, deforestation, erosion, pollution, lack of clean drinking water, and the melting of glaciers. We will talk with local environmentalists about their efforts to address these issues.

We will observe firsthand the positive and negative influence of western culture on a traditional society. We will be confronted with troubling dilemmas arising from our presence; we provide an important source of income, but impact their resources and lifestyle. Some of us will question many of our attitudes, particularly our inequitable consumption of the world’s resources. Perhaps these experiences will make us better world citizens and involve us actively in searching for a more balanced and sustainable way of life for all of us on this planet. The Nepali people have much to learn from our successes and mistakes; we have much to learn from their spirit and positive attitude. Those of us perceptive and wise enough to open our hearts and minds will come away with a new awareness of the world and the way we live in it.

The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused organization. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmental concerns at home and abroad.

Staff

Leader:

Kate Froman was hooked the first time she saw the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She led backpack trips in California before leading camping and hiking trips in England, Bhutan, Nepal and the Galapagos Islands. She appreciates the vitality of the Nepalese culture, the friendliness of the people and the serenity and grandeur of the mountains. At home she makes quilts and silk accessories, tears up the garden and has raised orphaned possums until they can be released. Cross-country skiing in the winter and backpacking in the summer keep her close to the mountains but she always loves to come home. And she makes great pesto.

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