You’ve booked your Everest Base Camp Trek and you are already dreaming of the mountains, but the reality of training for this epic adventure kicks in. So where do you start? What are the problems you’re going to face on the trek? What can you do before you get to Nepal so you are as ready as you can be?
We have been talking to Paul Etheridge (who has been to Everest Base Camp nine times and attempted to summit) about his thoughts on how best to prepare.
The first thing to note is that although this isn’t a technical climb requiring specific skills, you will certainly need to bring your fitness to a high level. On top of fitness, much of the hike is about mental endurance and persevering through the challenges of high altitude.
Paul has outlined his top three training techniques for a successful adventure:
1. Hit the Hills
The hills will be your best friend while training. Hike in the kit that you are going to be wearing on the trip as much as possible - get your daypack on, and start climbing. This will not only give you an idea of the physical endurance you will need, but also the mental endurance. It’ll help knowing that you can keep going, when the going gets tough on the mountain. If you don’t have easy access to hills, then get into the gym in your hiking boots, put the treadmill on a steep incline, and start walking. Doing this 2 - 3 times per week will build your fitness. And if the gym option is your only option, you should still aim to spend two days a month in the mountains walking for a full day.
2. Interval Training
It’s almost impossible to know how you will react to altitude until you are faced with it. Some of the fittest people struggle the most. One way to help your body to prepare for it is to include interval training into your fitness regime. If at all possible, do it on a hill. Aim to sprint as fast as you can up the hill, then jog/walk back down - repeat this five times and do it as often as possible.
3. Strength Training
You should also include some strength training into your training plan. Getting your legs as strong as possible will help to keep you moving on the hills. You will build your muscles and get less fatigue on on the trek. Try the 100 squat challenge - 100 squats every day for one month and see how much stronger your legs get!
You want to start your training as early as possible, but at minimum you need to be doing this twelve weeks before the trip.
We will be taking things slowly. Altitude will affect everyone differently and it is important that during the trek we let everyone's body acclimatize. Therefore, we will be walking significantly slower than one would in the UK - you’ll appreciate it!
A few final points to consider...
Wear in your kit - don’t buy shiny new kit just before you leave, anything new you need, get as early as possible and wear it in - especially your boots and packs.
Don’t use acclimatisation chambers - the effects of acclimatisation don’t last if you are not at altitude. You therefore won’t be getting any benefits from them. Spend your money on better kit!
We would suggest not using medication to help with acclimatisation. They can mask symptoms and cause you to push yourself too hard during the trek or not pick up on vital symptoms.
Now it’s up to you - go and hit the hills!