Heart Of The Himalaya: A Guide To Preparing For Everest As A Beginner - Updated 2021

the heart of the himalaya : a guide to preparing for everest as a beginner
Johanna
Johanna
Updated

Preparing for a climb Everest as a beginner almost seems like an oxymoron. You may ask, how can a beginner actually climb the highest peak in the world?

Professional climbers have tried. Many have failed. It takes about two or three years of adequate climbing to qualify for Everest. You’ll also need a couple of high altitude climbs, for practice. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. If you have a dream to climb Everest, as most people do, but don’t know exactly where to start, here’s a beginner’s guide on where to start:

1. Research. Research. Research.

South Everest Base Camp sleeping platform
Source: Photo by user Alpalfour used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This cannot be emphasized enough. Half the battle of actually going is the planning. Arm yourself with the most accurate information so you can plot out and make conscious decisions, based on facts. First, learn the basics of the climb. How many weeks will it actually take to traverse from base to peak? Answer: it takes six to nine weeks, with an average of 40 days. How much will it cost to go? This is dependent on a lot of factors, such as the level of training you need to take, the actual travel to and from Nepal, as well as to and from Everest Base Camp. However, there are already certain mandatory expenses, like climbing permits, fees, cooks and assistants. All in all, the cost will average around 100,000 USD. Other than these fees, you’ll also have to consider your gear, equipment, and the like.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Duration: 14 days

2. Create a body conditioning plan

Climbing
Source: Pixabay

While there are sherpas you can hire to take your gear and other essentials up the mountain, (which is honestly a no-no for the most authentic and experienced climbers), it is also key that your physical state is conditioned to the maximum. Not being ready means you are a liability to your companions. Also, remember that you will be carrying some sort of gear and a bottle of oxygen while you’re climbing rough terrain. Depending on what physical condition you are in, you will need to start training in order to heighten your technical skill. You can start with a rock-climbing exercise. This will help you be familiarized with the equipment, such as the ropes and belaying. Cardiovascular conditioning and strength conditioning are also musts. This has to be done at least six months before the actual climbing attempt. Intensify your routine as the month of the climb gets closer. A combination of strength training, cardiovascular training, and some actual wilderness treks, are ideal.

Everest Training Climb

Address: Lobuche East - Pokalde- Island Peak, Nepal

Website: Everest Training Climb

3. Practice climbing on ice

North ridge
Source: Photo by user Dhruvjoe used under CC BY 3.0

While training in the wilderness is important, it will not fully prepare you for the acclimatization, footwork, and technical skill needed for the frigid climates of Everest. You’ll need to learn how to use snow belays, crampons, ice screws and ice picks. You’ll also need hard boots ideal for the weather.

Practicing climbing on ice also hits two birds with one stone. Nepal’s tourism agency already heavily assess the climbing resumes of those who want to climb. You’ll need experience in high altitude climbing. The higher you climb, of course, the more bonus points you get. There’s a good list of practice mountains that you can ascend to prior to your climb to Everest. What the experts consider high altitude starts at 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level. These include mountains like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (great for those without any technical experience), Rainier in Northwestern USA, and Elbrus in Russia. If you want something more challenging and something closer to the altitude of Everest, you can go 6,000 to 7,000 meters (19,685 to 22,966 feet) above sea level. Most of these mountains are still found in the Himalayas such as Stok Kangri, Island Peak (found quite near Everest), and Mera Peak. The biggest brownie points, though, are given to climbers who have already climbed the death zones, mountains with peaks that are 8,000 meters (16,245 feet) above sea level. These include mountains like Cho Oyu (still found in Nepal), and Shishapagma in Tibet and China.

Mt. Everest Expedition - 71 Days

Address: Mt. Everest, Nepal

Website: Mt. Everest Expedition - 71 Days

4. Make clear your intentions of why you want to climb the Heart of the Himalaya (from USD 1.0)

Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Source: Photo by user Agnes Kwong used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Most people garner romantic notions about climbing Everest. For many, climbing it symbolizes man’s conquering the insurmountable. It’s a testament to success to reach the highest peak in the world. However, not everyone will agree with this. One of the famous authors who climbed Everest, Jon Krakauer, said about his 1996 climb, “Everest is not real climbing. It is rich people climbing. It’s a trophy on the wall, and they’re done. When I say I wish I’d never gone, I really mean that.” Another climber, Tom McTavish, also said, “It’s a horrible experience all around, particularly if you aren’t accustomed to living in camps, surrounded by strangers, nearly all of who will gladly step over your dying body if it reduces the chance of getting to the top of the world.”

If it’s for the novelty, McTavish reminds that over 800 people climb Everest every year, so really, it’s not as insurmountable as you think, especially with the wide range of gear, porters, and especially tours who make life easier for any climber. The long and short of it is to question your intentions. Why do you want to climb Everest, exactly? What value is it to you? Does it hold a personal relevance? If it’s only a matter of ego, then it’s best to go with more aesthetic peaks and treks.

Kathmandu 5-Day Mt Everest Region Tour with Round-Trip Flights

Duration: 5 days

3 reviews

Reaching the summit

In order for Everest to not just stay a dream, you need to wake up to the harsh reality that it takes a lot of preparation to get from where you are right now to the top of the world, literally and figuratively. Your determination will, of course, depend on how fiercely you want to reach the summit. And, maybe this is really what Mount Everest really stands for. It isn’t a prize or an ego boost, but a true testament to how will can truly overcome any obstacle, including yourself.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Johanna Michelle Lim is a brand strategist, creative director, and travel writer based in Cebu City, Philippines. She swims in jellyfish-infested oceans, treks through mountains, rides rickety...Read more

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