More than any other mountain, Mount Everest has always held an undeniable allure amongst the general public. Ever since it was first surveyed back in 1856, we’ve been fascinated by the massive peak that rises 29,029 feet above the Earth’s surface. Later, the world would hold its collective breath while explorers such as George Mallory and Andrew Irvine challenged the mountain, just because it was there. And later we would cheer when a young man from New Zealand, named Edmund Hillary, and his climbing partner from Nepal, Tenzing Norgay, stood atop the summit for the first time. The fascination turned a bit morbid when Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air told the tale of the that tragic 1996 climbing season during which 15 people lost their lives on the mountain. But that best selling book reintroduced a new generation to Everest, keeping its mystique alive and as strong as ever.
Climbing the mountain is an expensive and challenging endeavor, costing upwards of $50,000 and requiring a two month commitment to complete. Not many of us have that kind of time on our hands, not to mention that much disposable income, which makes it highly unlikely that we’ll ever stand on the summit ourselves. But the desire to see the mountain runs strong amongst adventure travelers, and each year hundreds of them make the trek to Everest Base Camp, just to experience a part of the mountain for themselves.
In April I had the privilege to make that trek for myself, spending 12 days hiking in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal, and ultimately arriving at Base Camp, located at 17,600 feet. Along the way, I passed through mountain villages, stayed in traditional teahouses, and experienced the Himalayan culture first hand, and all the while the stunning snow capped mountains of the region served as a breathtaking backdrop. The trip turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more, and while it isn’t an easy journey, for those who have always wanted to make it, it is definitely worth the hike.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences from the trek with Gadling readers. Hopefully I’ll be able to convey to you, in some small way, the sense of adventure and wonder that a walk in the Himalaya can produce. And that adventure starts in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and the gateway to those mountains.