Tips and Tricks for EBC trek…

… from those who did not make it, I should add. But nevertheless these are some of our observations and experiences that might help those who want to pursue this adventure in the future.

Wear sunglasses
– invest in a nice pair, very useful in the harsh alpine sun and prevents snow blindness
Oakleys are always cool, although I did see someone wearing aviator Ray-Bans

Buy/wear a Buff
– helps keep moisture in the air you breath if worn over the mouth and nose
– helps keep out the dust as well
– prevents nasty sunburn on the face (Socs had sunburn on her nose because she did not wear the buff over her nose)

Get a Nepali headgear
– helps with the cold (especially if you are bald like me)
– helps the local economy (get the more ‘expensive’ ones, that are thicker and better made)
– it looks cool

Bring 3 pairs of good socks
– we highly recommend SmartWool socks
– 2 for trekking, 1 for sleeping/emergency (they will loose their fluff after days of constant use)

Get a good pair of gloves
– no matter what the guy in Slush and Mud tells you, you need a good pair of cold weather gloves
– you can bring your normal gloves, and layer with thick ones available locally in Nepal

Medium baselayers work best
– can be worn on its own in warmer days (just open up the zips if it gets too warm)
– keeps the warmth better when you stop for pictures or a drink (better than wasting energy getting on a jacket, then removing them when it gets warm again)

Other trek gear
– bring the correct size bag. Anything of 45L might be too big to comfortably carry (especially if you have a porter)
– trekking poles are highly recommended but still a personal preference

Camera gear
– bringing a tripod is optional, but since you can let the porter carry it then I say go for it
– bringing film camera is a personal preference. I haven’t developed the film from my Hasselblad yet so I am not sure if it is worth it in my case. Film always has that certain character that digital cameras do not have though.

wearing nearly all of our gear

wearing nearly all of our gear

Hire a guide/porter
– helps the local economy
– makes things a bit easier
– not too expensive as doing it on your own (although tipping does add to the cost)

Bring your own TP
– to wipe snot from your nose
– to wipe your bottom

Vitamins
– remember what your mum said… take your vitamins

Food
– buy Snickers. Best power food ever
– order Dhal bhat. Free refills. ’nuff said.
– fried rice/noodles are tasty too
– try the thukpa (Nepali soup)
– order some mint tea as well (they might get you milk tea though hehe)
– go to Everest Bakery in Namche for the best apple pie

try the momo as well (fried or steamed)

try the momo as well (fried or steamed)

Is Crossfit a good preparation for EBC trek?

Our main preparation for our trek was doing Crossfit. Crossfit London UK and Ronin Crossfit being the two boxes that provided us with the location, knowledge, guidance, and programming. You can read all about them and what Crossfit is about in their websites.

So, does Crossfit prepare you well enough to do multi-day treks in the Everest region you might ask. Here are some of my thoughts on it.

Being comfortable with the uncomfortable
This saying is thrown around in the Crossfit community and it has some bearing on doing multi-day treks. You will be uncomfortable in multi-trek days in the Everest region. No modern facilities, no showers for days on end, hours of walking, the altitude, the cold, everything is different from the comfort of your own little bubble in life.

While I wasn’t completely comfortable with the uncomfortable, having experienced FGB, Filthy Fifty and Hero WODs gives you that mental edge.

going through the first round of FGB

going through the first round of FGB

15-60 minute HIIT vs 16 day trek with 4-8 hour trekking days
Not comparable by a long shot. Your mind messes with you when you’ve been walking uphill, huffing and puffing for 15 minutes and you know you still have a long way to go.

Chipper WODs
Despite the no comparison above, Crossfit does prepare you for chipping away at the task at hand. Whether it is going through rounds for time or getting to the next village for lunch, you just have to keep you head down and next thing you know you are lying on the floor making sweat angels or having a nice cup of tea.

Functional movement
Lunges and step ups are what usually come to mind when trekking preparation is discussed, but I’ve got a few that you can add to the list. Pistols and squats train the related muscles in walking as well but did you know that muscle up progressions and ring dips also help? Yep, going uphill you can use you trekking poles to pull yourself up that step (muscle up) and going downhill, you can lean on the trekking poles as you lower yourself (ring dips). I even got to do some power cleans with our bags, cool huh?

push ups for trekking?

push ups for trekking?

Restricted/panic breathing
After experiencing trekking altitude for the first time, it dawned to me that it was like trying to breathe halfway through a WOD. Your heart is pumping and you try to get as much air but can’t because your body is compensating by hyperventilating. But at sea level a deep breath is all it takes to get enough O2 to reset, but at altitude there isn’t enough air to breath in the first place. WODs with gas mask anyone? (not that I’ve tried that one… not as bad ass as I want yet)

So where does that leave us? Crossfit brings in some components that help you in the trek, but I think a bit more low intensity, long duration work (walking along Regent Street and going into each store perhaps) is in order. At the end of the day of course, any exercise program is better than no program at all.

**Pictures courtesy of Crossfit London UK

Why we failed: In hindsight

As soon as we turned back to head back down I started thinking, after all the planning, why we failed to reach our ultimate goals. Over the next few days and being in warmer climate, we were able to list down a few of the factors that contributed to our demise. Continue reading

Day 17: The longest day

We woke up early to a foggy Lukla for the first flight to Kathmandu. As we had breakfast in the nearby bakery, Ang Dawa went out to check on the flight status and take care of checking us in. However, things were not looking too good. The fog was still lingering in the airfield with no sign of lifting. Our departure time passed and we were still hanging around in the dining area of our lodge waiting. We were still hoping for flights to resume later on in the day, similar to the day before when flights only resumed after lunch. We then got a call from Harka.

According to him, no flights are in operation for the day, which we were already aware of. He, along with other folks, were organizing a helicopter alternative to get us down to Kathmandu that would cost us around $500 (for 2 people). Now $500 is quite a sum of money and while I was considering the cost, I just wanted to get back to Kathmandu as soon as possible. Little did I know, this was because I was already experiencing symptoms of Giardiasis. Socs and I discussed this and we made a decision to take Harka up on his offer.

I was hoping that the helicopter would land in Lukla and get us out of there, but we were told to get our stuff ready for an hour’s trek down to where the helicopter can land. So after lunch, we reorganized our gear (as we were dressed for air travel and not trekking) and set off down the mountain. Ang Dawa took our other bag which Dill would have normally carried. It was a wet trek down and we could definitely see why no flights would be coming to Lukla anytime soon (in fact no flights were in operation until we were back in London nearly a week later). During the trek down, I started imagining that we were being evacuated from a conflict zone to the chopper’s LZ (coincidentally, Tears of the Sun was showing on the telly when we got back to our hotel). Our LZ turned out to be a clearing on the side of the mountain beside what I think were corn/rice fields.

Socs: For people like you and me, LZ = Landing Zone

foggy trek down to the LZ

foggy trek down to the LZ

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Day 16: Back Where We Started

After 15 days of walking, I was excited about this day.  Why?  There are good hot shower facilities at Lukla where we’re headed today!!  Yes, if you take the trek in the Everest region, you will not always get a hot shower, so don’t blame me if I was that excited.  Aside from that though, it was our last day of walking.  We will stay overnight at Lukla and then fly off the following morning for Kathmandu. I vowed to take it all in today and enjoy the trek, even though the morning was chilly and clouds were hanging low on the mountains reducing visibility.

A mirror when brushing your teeth! This was a real luxury.

A mirror when brushing your teeth! This was a real luxury.

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