Trekking to Everest Base Camp is not for the faint of heart. The trek is approximately 110 kilometers (or nearly 70 miles) and gains 9,000′ (3,000m) in elevation. Knowing exactly how to train for Everest Base Camp will benefit you as you prepare for the most memorable journey of a lifetime!
What the trail to Everest Base Camp is like:
There are actually a number of different routes to get to Everest Base camp. Some include high Himalayan passes with gorgeous views, others have a side-trip to climb a nearby 6,000 meter peak! For simplicity-sake, I will talk about the standard route. Know that trail conditions will be incredibly similar no matter which route you choose.
The Everest Base Camp Trek is known for STAIRS. The trail is not a steady incline. It goes up, it goes down, then up, then down, and up, and down again. When you land in Lukla at just over 9,000′, your trail starts primarily downhill to the village of Phakding. From there, you will follow the riverbank. After that, you will head up the steep pitch to Namche Bazzar which sits at over 11,000′. Past Namche, you will make your way to the Tenboche Monastery. This involves a steep decent back down to the river, before you climb back up to the monastery.
At this point, you will have a gorgeous view of the Khumbu region including Ama Dablam. You will make your way down into the Khumbu Valley. Once you are out of the trees, you will pass through several more villages on your way up to the Khumbu Glacier where Base Camp is located. Climbing Kala Patthar is also a must if you plan to visit Everest Base Camp. This involves a moderately steep trail at 18,000′.
What this means for training:
There are a few key elements that will be necessary for a trek of this magnitude. To ensure success you must focus your training on endurance, leg strength (particularly around the knees), and mental strength. The long distance, unfathomable amount of stairs, and high-altitude will be the biggest physical challenges you face. Having strong cardio capacity will help your body adapt to the high-altitude. Strengthening your legs and your knees for the long distance, and ALL THE STAIRS will be crucial. Finally, being able to maintain physical energy for hours on end will help you maintain energy during the long days on the trail.
The mental challenges on the trek to Everest Base Camp will be different for everyone. However, there are commonalities which can be exacerbated by those physical challenges. Lack of self-confidence, fear, illness, weather, exhaustion, and seclusion can all effect your mental ability to conquer your goals. The elements commonly faced at high-altitude are unpredictable. Learning how to power through the elements and stay mentally strong will be just as, if not more important than your physical training.
Why it is important to train for Everest Base Camp:
Thanks to the internet and apps like Instagram and Facebook, wanderlust fever is getting more people outside than ever before. Those who are successfully making it to Base Camp are training beforehand.
When I was training for my first trek to Everest Base Camp, I had no reference, and no idea how to effectively train for the high altitude. The only think I knew I could do was practice being up high. Mentally, the trek to Base Camp was the hardest thing I had ever done, short of recovering from my eating disorder. Shortly after I came home from Nepal, I became a certified personal trainer. I studied sport performance and mountain performance. In the end, I figured out exactly what I needed to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. When I got home, people asked how hard the climb was. My reply was that it was easy, in fact way easier than Nepal! I even summited a day ahead of schedule! This was because I had figured not just the physical component, but the mental one as well.
There was plenty of trial and error, research, and education. In the end, I had dialed in an effective approach to endurance training for high-altitude. In addition, the most crucial and important piece to my training stems from utilizing mental performance to help you succeed. Not only do I now help others achieve their climbing dreams, I continue to apply it in my own life.
Interested in learning more about my coaching program?
Take a look at my mountain performance coaching program. My program works by combining both personal training and mental coaching to completely prepare you for trekking and mountaineering expeditions.
There are dozens of articles out there on trekking to EBC, reguarding “do’s and don’ts”, “things I wish I knew”, etc.
The reality is, none of that can really prepare you for the experience itself. I myself, have been dreaming of the day I could finally see Everest since I was about 9 years old. I studied everything. read every article, every forum, every blog….. and there were still surprises.
First off, the reality:
It seems like everyone always says they wish they trained more. I thought so too, but physically I did really well. My body and legs felt very strong. I didn’t have any issues with altitude sickness, but breathing up high (especially with asthma) is incredibly difficult. The trick is to just find your pace, and stick to it. It’s OKAY to go slow!
Also, if this is you’re first trip to Asia, or a developing country, you are almost guaranteed to get sick. Be prepared to eat the same half a dozen “safe” dishes in every teahouse… I watched my trekking partner eat whatever he wanted with no issues, but he had much more travel experience than me and was living in Bangkok where he was used to the bacteria common in Asia. I on the other hand, got food poisoning 3 different times. I was able to pinpoint which foods where the most likely culprits and I avoided them the rest of the trip. I was trying to play it safe eating vegetarian up there, but cheese was a bad idea, even vegetables themselves can be a risk if not cooked or washed properly. If you are a first timer, stick to pasta dishes, oatmeal, ramen, rice dishes, popcorn, and dal bhat (a traditional dish of rice and lentil soup). You will get incredibly tired of eating the same thing for 2 weeks, but it is the safest option.
Another piece of advice I once read about was to take multivitamins with you to make up for the lack of nutrients. I felt like this was helpful and I think this strategy also helped keep me from catching the “khumbu cough”.
This was my first time out of the country. I went from 1st world luxuries in the US, to the vastly different world of Nepal. My first night in Kathmandu was complete culture shock, and took some getting used to. (Read more about when I first arrived in Kathmandu here.) There were a lot of emotional ups and downs on this trip. I learned a lot about myself on this trip… particularly things I didn’t expect.
I learned that dreams take more work than initially planned. It took me a lot longer to finally get a chance to trek to EBC than I wanted but in reality, I would not have been ready before now. This was step one in my complete dream to climb the Seven Summits. But when I finally got to see the Himalayas in person, that felt absolutely daunting. I began to realize how glorified, and “easy” documentaries and movies make Everest look. Everest is HUGE!! The mountain is scary, dark, and looming. The reality of the darkness this mountain carries really begins to sink in once finally seeing it in person. SO much death, pain, misery, and despair. Out of those who summit and live, many go through a personal hell to achieve that goal. They come home 30+lbs lighter, sun damage on their face, and may even lose a few fingers or toes to frostbite.
During my time in Nepal, I experienced only a small fraction of this and it was a lot harder than I expected. I lost close to 15lbs in total just in the 2 weeks I was in the mountains due to both traveler’s diarrhea and hiking 5-6 hours a day. Despite putting on sunscreen nearly every hour, I still maintained a pretty severe sunburn on my face. And on days I felt sick and exhausted, separation anxiety kicked in. As a kid, I spent a month each year at a summer camp in Colorado, happy to get away from my family and never had a problem with homesickness. This time I was leaving behind a husband, who is my rock in everything. Not being able to contact him when I was having a hard time was incredibly difficult. I began to really wonder if Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits was what I really wanted. It would mean spending money on years of training and climbing, surviving miserable trips full of pain, and discomfort, all for just one shot at the summit…. is it really worth all that trouble? Do I care enough? The answer is yes, however it is going to be A LOT harder than I expected… And honestly I’m a bit terrified.
On a bit of a lighter note, there is a special feeling and spiritual connection that has developed over the years for me when it comes to climbing high peaks; the Himalayas were no exception. I have known for years that I always felt closer to my deceased sister in the mountains, but being alone in the Himalayas gave me a much larger perspective on the matter.
My favorite day of the entire trek was not the day we climbed Kala Patthar or went to EBC, it was the day we trekked from Dingboche to Lobuche. We had 360 degree views of the mountains that surrounded us, and we visited the Sherpa Memorial field. The mountains were the most beautiful I had ever seen, and I could feel how the memorial field was a very sacred place on the mountain. This was the day I could really feel that connection, but that wasn’t the only one. There were a lot of moments throughout the trek where I felt like I was really able to be myself in a spiritual way which was something I had been craving for a long time.
Growing up in a religious family brought up a lot of issues over the years. I felt like I couldn’t be myself. I felt like I was being forced into living expectations I couldn’t possibly live up to. Fear caused me to unfortunately hide how I felt for years, which contributed to depression, and my eating disorder after high school. I never really had the chance to come into my own until I was able to work through many of those issues through therapy and I began to look inside myself to figure out what I even believed in.
This trip really helped me cement some core beliefs on my spiritual side that had been lost nearly my entire life. I believe that personal spirituality, and your personal relationship with God (or whatever you believe) is far more important than the religion itself. A belief I personally feel like has been lost in many common religions today. This is not to bash on anyone that belongs to a religion and practices regularly, there is nothing wrong with that! There are a lot of genuine people that are members of a church. However, I have personally found a lot of hypocrisy in religion growing up, and I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. Religion is made up of people. People are human. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, no matter the religion, you can always find flaws. This is why your personal relationship with God is the most important. Being responsible for your actions, holding yourself accountable, no matter what they are, and just working on being a better person all the time is the best thing you can do, with religion in your life or not.
One thing I really loved about Nepal is that it is an incredibly spiritual country. You can find every type of person on the religious spectrum, such as monks praying at the stupas, non-practicing, and everything in between. But no matter who they are, everyone is nice, helpful and genuine. This has a lot to do with the Buddhist belief in Karma, but more than that, it is their culture and it was probably the most real place I have ever been in a spiritual sense. Simply put, people just want to help, and are trying to be good, whether they are Bhuddist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or something else. This is how everyone should be, this is how our would should be, and this was the best thing to learn about myself on my trek to EBC.
I planned to get this out sooner, but I got home to find out I had caught a head cold from the guy sitting next to me on one of my connections home and have also been struggling with the jet lag pretty bad. I have been pretty miserable the last few days. But without further ado, here is my trip report of my Everest Base Camp Trek!
First, I shall answer a question which may have arisen for those who frequent my blog and may have noticed a “typo” in the title. Yes, I was supposed to climb Island Peak as well. Originally, this trip had 2 parts: trek to EBC, and climb Island Peak (Imja Tse) at 6189m (20,305′). Long story short, Island Peak did not happen, but that will be explained.
Most of what is written below is actually fragments from my travel journal. This is strictly just the trekking portion of our trip. I am not going to spend time on talking about my day in Singapore, or when I first arrived in Kathmandu because I have already discussed them but if you missed it, you can click the links to read about them! So to begin, we are going to start with our first day in the Himalayas:
DAY 1: LUKLA TO PHAKDING- 2,860m (9,380′) to 2,610m (8,560′)- 5/30/18
The morning started out in Kathmandu, misty and cool from rain the night before. Monsoon season is near, as we are at the tail end of may, and reports of many Everest climbers and crew had been stuck in Lukla for almost a week due to flights not being able to access the mountain. We head to the airport, hoping and praying skies are finally clear enough for us to get there. We are scheduled on the first flight out at 6am. We arrive, weigh our bags, and wait in the domestic terminal at Tribhuvan Airport for news, any news. Before we know it, we are on a little shuttle to take us to our small propeller plane, we board and we are off! On the plane, I had a giant smile on my face I could not erase, and tears coming to my eyes. Hazy skies make it difficult to see the tall mountains in the distance, but soon, we can see a hazy peak out the window of the plane, standing well above all others off in the distance. It’s Everest!
Landing in Lukla, at the world’s most dangerous airport, was not as terrifying as I anticipated. We had a very smooth landing, and was off the plane an instant later. Immediately we could already see Nupla, standing at 5,885m (19,303′), dominating the background. I nearly cried. I could not believe I was finally here! By a fun coincidence, my tent-mate from Rainier happened to be in Lukla at the same time! After catching up with her, we headed off. We have a small group. Gadul is our local guide and I am accompanied by one other, Juan from Bolivia, who is currently living in Thailand. The road to Phakding was downhill, and quick. We passed dozens of rocks, prayer wheels, stupas, and memorials covered in Sanskrit writings from the Monks of the monasteries. I learned that all of these sacred monuments bust be passed on the left, or in a clockwise direction out of respect. These are the most peaceful mountains I have ever been to. Bells and chimes from prayer wheels ring, and chants in the distance can be heard from the Monks up the hill. The spirit of this land is something I have wanted to experience for years. I was in disbelief of the awe and wonder around me. Within a short 2 1/2 hours, we arrived in Phakding, got settled into our first teahouse lodge and enjoyed some downtime.
DAY 2: PHAKDING TO NAMCHE BAZZAR- 2,610m (8,560′) to 3,440m (11,283′)- 5/31/18
Day 2 was long, steep, and hot. The trail was very up and down, and there were stairs, so many stairs!!! I started the morning off feeling pretty good! As we started walking I could hear birds that sounded just like the Mockingjay from the Hunger Games. We passed plenty of porters bringing down stuff from base camp now that the season is over and I began to realize something; many of these young boys looks just like my high schoolers! When people think “Sherpa” there is a stereotype that comes to mind. A short man, wearing flip flops, smoking cigarettes, while hiking with up to 100 kilos on his back with a head strap used for balance. While this is seen sometimes, the reality is most porters are young teenagers. Some are wearing skinny jeans, Adidas, a flat rimmed baseball cap, and playing music on their phone while they walk. I asked Gadul how young some of the porters typically start and he said some can be as young as 14, working weekends while they’re not in school.
We stopped for lunch about 2 hours into our hike in a village called Monjo, where the official entrance to the National Park is located. We crossed 6 bridges on the way to Namche. The last bridge is known as the high bridge. you hike up a steep hill to get there, as it’s suspended around 100 meters in the air. The last 2 hours of the climb is up a steep cliff side. It was extremely slow going, especially in the hot sun. It did not help that whatever I ate for lunch was beginning to not sit well. By the time we got to Namche I was pretty wiped out and my stomach was killing me. I had a difficult time eating dinner because I was so nauseous, and then it hit me in the middle of the night… my first bout of traveler’s diarrhea. I knew it was not altitude sickness because of the simple fact that I had been training above 10,000′ for months. Plus, I had altitude sickness once before, this was different. I could nearly pinpoint that the goat cheese on my potatoes at lunch was the most likely culprit.
DAY 3: REST DAY IN NAMCHE- 6/1/18
After a “fun” morning in the bathroom, I joined everyone for breakfast where I tried to force down some oatmeal. The initial plan was to hike up to Khumjung, a town at 3780m (12,398′), but we woke up to heavy rain and clouds in the area. (I was pretty thankful for that) A few hours later, Juan knocked on my door to announce they were going to head up for a short walk now that the weather was clearing. After spending the morning lying in the fetal position, and taking some antacid medicine, I decided to join them to at least get out and stem some boredom.
We walked up to the Sagarmatha Visitor Center, (Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Everest) and toured around enjoying the Tenzing Norgay Memorial statue (the real MVP), as well as the various boards and displays inside the visitor center. On a sunny day, you can see Everest from this point, however, because of the clouds, we couldn’t see anything. As the clouds were beginning to move and disperse slightly, we decided to hang out on top of that hill to wait and see if the clouds would part enough to see Everest. After about 10 minutes of waiting, we could finally see Lhotse peering from behind the clouds, and moments later, Everest. I literally cried. I had been waiting for this moment for so long. to finally see Everest in person! I realized this was no longer a dream, but totally real. Despite being unbelievably sick, I had a rush of adrenaline.
DAY 4: NAMCHE TO DEBOCHE- 3,440m (11,283′) to 3,820m (12,529′)- 6/2/18
Feeling slightly better the next morning, We set off on our way to what was originally going to be Tengboche. We hiked down a steep hill to the small village of Phunke Tenga near the river, then back up another steep hill to Tengboche and the Tengboche Monastery. We toured the grounds, taking in the beautiful artwork inside the monastery. I absolutely LOVED the detail and the colors. It was very warm and inviting. I only wish we had been there for a Puja ceremony. That would have been incredible to see.
Then came time to find our lodge. Due to the fact that we were trekking in “off season”. Many teahouses close as families head to Kathmandu for the summer. The teahouse we meant to stay in was closed, so we hiked down into the rhododendron forest to the small village of Deboche. The bright colors of the flowers were incredible! Pinks, yellows, and white, colored the trees and the ground.
DAY 5: DEBOCHE TO DINGBOCHE- 3,820m (12,529′) to 4,410m (14,464′)- 6/3/18
We woke up to a beautiful view of Ama Dablam as well as Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse. The hike was fairly gentle in incline compared to the steep hills I had been climbing before. What was predicted to be a 5-6 hour hike, we did in 4 1/2! At this point in time, I was officially the highest I have ever been. at 14, 464′ I was higher than any peak in Colorado, higher than Mount Rainier, and almost as high as Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States at 14,505′. But, it didn’t feel like I was over 14,000′. I was acclimatizing very well and my stomach was improving.
DAY 6: DINGBOCHE TO LOBUCHE (My favorite day)- 4,410m (14,464′) to 4,910m (16,104′)- 6/4/18
Words cannot describe the awe, beauty, and spiritual nature of what I had seen this day… I like to think that I have a very good eye for pictures, especially outdoors, and I still don’t think I did it any justice. I came here, not only to reach a lifelong goal, but to also go on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts and this day fulfilled a big part of that spiritual side.
To start, we climbed up the tundra hills above Dingboche. The clouds parted and we had 360 degree views of the Himalayan peaks that surrounded us. I am officially convinced that Ama Dablam is the most beautiful mountain in the world. Everest may the the highest, but it’s not “pretty”. Ama Dablam was stunningly gorgeous. I literally stopped and told myself “don’t sit down or you will never leave.” We took our time in those hills taking dozens of photos. The clouds sweeping by below us added an element like we really were in heaven. I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life.
After a quick lunch in Tulkla, we climbed a steep rocky hill to the Sherpa Memorial field where tombstones and stupas of climbers who died on Everest and other nearby peaks cover the hillside to remember those who have fallen. The spirit of this mountain is unreal. You could really feel how sacred of a place this had become.
Walking onward, the view opened up to the Khumbu region where Pumori dominated the view, Nuptse stood out infront of Everest, and You could see over the ridge into Tibet where Changtse is visible at 7,543m (24,747′). (You can literally see China!)
DAY 7: LOBUCHE TO GORAK SHEP AND EVEREST BASE CAMP!- 4,910m (16,104′) to 5,140m (16,859′) and 5,464m (17,600′)- 6/5/18
My lungs were definitely beginning to feel the lack of oxygen but my body felt like a freaking amazon warrior! Hung out at base camp for over an hour, playing around in the glacier and I was amazed at how well I felt. From Lobuche, we walked along a fairly flat path to Lobuche Pass which led to the surprisingly intense Changri Glacier crossing. Navigating the crazy rocks was all over the place. Finally, we made it to Gorak Shep, where we would be spending the night.
After a quick cup of tea and dropping off our bags, we continued onward to Base Camp. Nuptse dominated our views and it was massive. The tip of Everest’s summit was peering out behind it, and below it all was the Khumbu Glacier. A mix of rocks and ice, like nothing I had ever seen before. We could hear shifting, creaking, and cracking as if the mountain was alive, trying to speak.
When we arrived at EBC, it was like a playground of ice and rock. Climbing season is over so it was completely empty and there were no tents left, but I can imagine sleeping on the wet rocks and having the ice and water constantly moving beneath you. How do you sleep?! The Khumbu Icefall is MASSIVE. in photos, movies, and documentaries don’t show how steep it really is.
After Playing in the glacier, we headed back to Gorak Shep to rest, and get some sleep before our early morning ahead of us.
DAY 8: KALA PATTHAR SUMMIT AND BACK TO DINGBOCHE- 5,644m (18,519′)- 6/6/18
The morning started out very cloudy and socked in. We started climbing Kala Patthar at 5am from Gorak Shep. I hit a wall pretty early into my climb. It was incredibly steep and the lack of oxygen was finally catching up with me in the sense that I would begin to feel a sense of panic whenever I had trouble catching my breath. I would have to stop, calm down, and let my breathing regulate. Part of me wanted to turn back on multiple occasions because of the crappy weather. I didn’t want to make it to the summit and not be able to see the view. But I kept pushing and near the end, I was having to take nearly 10 breaths for every step I took.
Luckily, during the last 20 meters or so to the summit, all of the sudden the clouds began to open up and I managed to see an amazing view of Everest, Nuptse, and the Khumbu Glacier just long enough for a few photos before the clouds closed back in on us. I was exhausted, and out of breath but glad I completed my goal. I had finally seen Everest and Base Camp, and that’s when it began to sink in that I didn’t think that I had it in me for another summit. Island Peak was a bonus, an add-on to my original goal and at this point, I felt like I bit off more than I could chew with my first trip to the Himalayas. I was exhausted, hungry, homesick, and really just kind of done at this point of the trip. I no longer had the desire or even felt the need to climb Island Peak anymore. However, we were headed in that direction anyway, so I kept it in the back of my mind, and was still open to the possibility. After Kala Patthar, we ate breakfast at Gorak Shep then headed all the way back down to Dingboche. A long day for sure, but it was nice to breathe the thicker air.
DAY 9: DINGBOCHE TO CHUKKUNG- 4,410m (14,464′) to 4,730m (15,514′) 6/7/18
My second bout of food poisoning began this morning. I woke up feeling a little nauseous, had trouble eating breakfast, but not thinking much of it initially. but as we began our ascent to Chukkung, it hit me like a wall. I thought I was gonna puke. Was it the vegetables in the spring rolls I had for dinner? or the hot chocolate I had before bed? Either way, I was back to boring foods… Despite wanting to throw up with every step, The hike to Chukkung was pretty short. I spent the rest of the day in bed, trying to let my stomach subside, and then it was time to make a decision. The next day we were supposed to head to Island Peak Base Camp, but I had the option of staying behind while Juan and Gadul joined another guide to make a summit attempt. I felt weak, burned out, sick enough that it seemed like the right decision.
DAY 10-11: WAITING IN CHUKKUNG- 6/8-9/18
The boys left at around 9:30am for base camp which was actually fairly late. We spent the morning waiting out heavy rain before they decided to leave. My stomach was still a mess, and I was still struggling to force down any food. Entertaining myself all day was a struggle, and by the time I went to bed, the doubt began to creep in… “Should I have just gone and tried? Am I giving up?” I had to remind myself how sick and weak I really had become. Even Gadul mentioned he could tell I had lost a lot of weight, and was worried. There is no way I would’ve been able to endure a 16 hour high altitude climb in the condition I was in. By morning the next day, I could FINALLY see Island Peak. towering 5,000 feet above me was a giant wall of ice. I confirmed with myself, there was absolutely no way. Reports from Gadul and Juan talked about waist deep snow from the night before and hidden crevasses EVERYWHERE under the snow. Due to the late season conditions, melting was causing the route to be extremely unsafe, especially near the end so they turned around about 200 meters or so from the summit.
DAY 12-16: DOWN WE GO- 6/10-14/18
The downward crawl had long days. Both Juan and I reminisced on foods we missed back home and miles seemed stretched as our tired legs headed back down from Chukkung to Deboche, Deboche to Namche, and Namche to Lukla. We then spent the next 3 days in Lukla due to weather. We were scheduled to fly out on the 13th, but no planes came at all that morning. We then booked new tickets for the next day in a second attempt however, weather closed in quickly and before our plane was scheduled to take us back to Kathmandu.
I was scheduled to fly home the next day, and after checking the weather for Friday, it was safe to assume no flights would come the next morning so we looked at our second option: paying $500/person to fly on a helicopter. We decided to go for it, and even that was an anxious waiting game as clouds were even to thick for the helicopter much of the day. They were finally able to land to pick us up and take us back to Kathmandu. It was worth it.
Overall, I loved Nepal. I loved the culture, the people, the mountains, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It had it’s ups and downs, but for a first trip to the Himalayas I felt like it was a successful endeavor. I hope you enjoyed my long winded report. I know it was a lot to read through. But be sure to stay tuned here in the near future as I have a few other posts about my trip to Nepal in the works.
In the long term, a plan needed to be formulated for my biggest and most ambitious of goals: The Seven Summits.
When I decided I wanted to be teach high school, I knew the pay wouldn’t be great, but I would have summers off to go play. However, climbing season in Nepal is not June to August… it is right in the middle of school testing season. Whether or not I take a year off or find a long term sub when the time comes, who knows… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. However, the rest of the list I can knock out during summers or Christmas break which works well in my favor! When I start hitting the big boys, I’m going to NEED to figure out some logistics; yet another bridge to cross in due time.
SO, without further ado, I give you my climbing timeline for completing The Seven Summits in the next Seven years!
Year 0-COMPLETE! 2017: I am calling this year 0 because my summer consisted of job searching for teaching positions and I spent a majority of the year being beyond broke. Realistic planning for adventures could not be finalized until I found a job. Since I now have a teaching position: this year’s goal is complete!
Year 1-COMPLETE! June 2018: Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar (18,519 ft/ 5,644.5 m) Because I was itching so badly to Everest up close and in person, and while I’m there!
Year 2- July 2019: FIRST SEVEN SUMMIT! Kilimanjaro, Africa (19,341’/5,895 m) I am booked with Eco-Africa Climbing on a Women Only Climb! #womenclimbkili!
Year 3- July 2020: Plans to move during summer break 2020 are in the works. That being said, there is no money for international climbing this year, but there is wiggle room for a trip to Washington to once again attempt Mount Rainier! (14,411’/4,392m)
Year 4- July 2021: Mount Elbrus, Europe (18,510’/5,642 m) I plan to go to this beautiful Russian volcano.
December 2021: Aconcagua, South America (22,841’/6,961 m) I actually thought about climbing this one first because I am so anxious and impatient to get climbing. But after looking at it from a realistic perspective, we are going to try to buy our first house in the first year or two of me teaching. My husband should graduate from college by 2020 and make the financial load significantly easier, so putting it off until later was the smarter thing to do.
Year 5– December 2022: Mount Kosciuszko, Australia (7,310’/2,228 m) For those who don’t know, there are two main lists for the Seven Summits, the Bass List and the Messner List which each have a different summit for the Australian Continent. I decided on doing both peak but am starting with the Bass List for a few reasons… One, being from Utah, and growing up skiing Snowbird, then working at Snowbird, and meeting Dick Bass personally, I feel a special connection to the Bass list. Two, Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid, is extremely expensive and difficult to get to as it’s deep in the Filipino jungle and in a war zone. And three, my husband and I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, so we are planning a vacation for our 10 year anniversary down south with a quick pit stop to Australia to take a stroll up the easiest of the Seven Summits and visit a koala sanctuary!
Year 6- June/July 2023: Denali, North America (20,322’/6,194 m) I am very excited for this one. Alaska is beautiful and if it wasn’t so freaking expensive, I would probably climb this one earlier too.
Year 7- April-June 2024: Mount Everest, Asia (29,029’/8,848 m) 7 years of prep for the tallest mountain on earth. I plan to ascend the North Col route from Tibet. There are pros and cons to each side but the crowds are smaller on the Tibet side as permits are limited, which also makes them more expensive… The ONLY thing harder than climbing Everest, is funding Everest.
December 2024: Vinson Massif , Antarctica (16,077’/4,900 m) I saved what I deem to be the most epic for last. (as well as the most expensive… yes more expensive than Everest) It may not be nearly as high as some of the others, but it has an incredible amount of character. Deep in the frozen wasteland of Antarctica, this summit has the lowest amount of resources available to it. There are no cities in Antarctica. There is a camp, only accessible by a 4 hour plane ride from Chile. You have to drag all your gear around by sled, and it is a very cold and lonely place. I am just glad the sun is up for 24 hours down there during that time of year. I can’t imagine how dark and desolate it would be. (those poor penguins). A successful summit bid by this timeline would mean I complete the Bass Seven Summits just before my 35th birthday!
BONUS: The 8th Seven Summit for Year 8– June 2025: Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid (16,024 ft/4,884m) This will complete Messner List and I will be part of an Elite crowd that has done both lists. This is the most technical of all the Seven Summits, therefore completion of the Messner list is more rare.
BONUS: Explorer’s Grand Slam: The Geographic North and South Poles! The more I work towards my goals, the more I wonder how far I can actually go! After following Colin O’Brady as he recently crossed Antartica solo and unaided, I have been seriously interested in exploring the poles; and I don’t just plan to fly to the pole, I want to complete what is known as “The Last Degree”: A 60 naudical mile ski trek from the 89th degree to the pole hauling a sled full of gear behind me!
As much as I would like to, I can’t guarantee this list’s completion in 7 years, and it will probably be adjusted as time goes on. There are simply too many factors out of my control; politics in foreign countries, unforeseen budget factors, weather, etc. But what I can guarantee is that I will personally strive for each one to the best of my ability until they are complete no matter what it takes.
People ask me all the time, “Why do you want to climb Everest?” “What is the point in putting yourself through physical anguish to reach the top?” In short reply it’s easier to just say “I don’t know” or “it’s hard to explain”. But the reality is I don’t simply have one reason for why I climb, I have several. I climb because I feel a very real, very spiritual connection in the mountains. My sister passed away when I was a kid, and when I summited my first 14er at the age of 13, I dedicated the climb to my baby sister, and ever since then those high peaks make me feel closer to her. After years of suffering through crippling depression and a dangerous eating disorder, completing something this huge is monumental to me. It’s simply proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I do it for me, and I hope to set an example for others like me. That’s why I write this silly blog. My biggest goal of all, is to simply share my story in hopes that maybe someone else who is suffering, can look inside of themselves and realize that they don’t have to live in despair; they can do anything they set their mind to. It doesn’t have to be climbing, it could be something as simple as learning an instrument they have always wanted to learn, travel to a corner of the world they have always longed to see, or following a career passion they never dreamed was possible. As soon as you are okay with yourself and who you are, and you no longer care what society tells you what you should be or what your parents think you should be, and you start living your life for yourself, then you will be truly happy. You will be able to Conquer Yourself.
Keep up on my climbs! Click here to check out my current successful summit list!