Kerry here, from the 360 office team. Usually you will find me behind the 360 desk, making sure our trekkers and climbers are prepped and ready to embark on their expedition. Having my hands on walking poles rather than a keyboard was an exciting change and setting foot in Nepal years after my first explore of this amazing country felt very special.
It’s hard to pinpoint what I loved about this trip in just a few words… I mean, you’re in the Himalayas! An incredibly spiritual country with prayer flags and mantras everywhere you look. You’re supported by the happiest, most humble and most helpful crew you could ever need. You’re bonding with a group of strangers, who after the first tough day in the mountains are your best friends. You’re sleeping in pretty basic accommodation and you cheer when your next tea house has a toilet with a flush. It’s all the little things that make up the expedition, that make THIS expedition. Nepal is such a special place to feel small and insignificant, which helps you completely forget about everything (I appreciate this might sound a bit mad but I love gaining that perspective). When you’re stood surrounded by 7000m & 8000m mountains that pop out above the clouds, you’ll understand what I mean.
Of course being on an expedition doesn’t come without its challenges. That is the beauty of adventure… you are outside of your comfort zone and you can be challenged by your experiences. The most challenging element for me was being my authentic self and accepting that I, like everyone, had certain elements of the expedition I found challenging. The main one for me was the big Nepali bridges – I HATE exposure so walking across a big canyon using a swinging bouncing see-through metal bridge was never going to be an enjoyable experience. My poor teammates were forced to hold my hand multiple times and I cried on more than one of them. Surprisingly though, by bridge number 79 (just kidding, I think it was 14!) I walked the whole thing on my own, without holding on – what a mad achievement and one I did not foresee!
The highs and lows of an expedition are incredible and it is that very emotional rollercoaster that makes the friendships formed on an expedition so strong. The best part of the experience for me was getting to know my team of strangers and watching everyone win against their personal demons. Getting to Everest Base Camp and getting that team photo was special. I also loved spending time getting to know the locals and really felt connected to some of them. From the man who carries washing machines up in the mountain (mental!), to the lady who runs the tea-house, to our team of porters & sherpas – I was so humbled by the amount they did for us and I was sad to say goodbye to them (especially knowing they were having no time off and just going up again!).
I knew that this experience was going to be an extraordinary adventure, that it was going to test me and push me and that it was going to be a learning curve…of varying gradients and elevations! It’s very normal for people that come on these expeditions to have at least a few nerves and reservations before its go time. My advice to each and every one would be: don’t fear preparation. It’s not just about physical preparation either, the mental prep is just as important. Do lots of research, watch videos and come excited but also come understanding what it is you’re about to embark upon. Leave UK life behind, drop your expectations, roll with the experiences and trust me, you won’t regret or forget it.
Got questions? Check out our Everest Base Camp FAQs
And while you can try and prepare for every eventuality, read every blog you find and quiz every person you come across who has had the privilege of trekking to base camp, some things will still surprise you in situ. For me, what I hadn’t quite expected was just how much extra oomph was needed to stand on top of Gokyo Ri and Kala Patthar. The views from the summits, especially if timed with sunrise or sunset are unforgettable. All the pain of the ascent is forgotten as you watch the golden light tickle Everest, then if you’re lucky and you stay long enough in the cold (take lots of layers), you might just be treated to a moonrise over the mountains – a moment that will never be forgotten.
Coming away from such a trip you feel awe inspired, your itchy feet only get itchier and it goes without saying that you’re craving your next adventure fix before you have even arrived home. After being surrounded by towering mountains and views that are so grand in scale it is hard to comprehend, often people feel the natural next step after trekking to Everest Base Camp is to explore the world of mountaineering. Progressing from a trekking expedition to a mountaineering one is a big step. If you want to go down that route, I’d strongly suggest starting with something like an expedition skills week. Learn important skills, in a safe and fun environment before heading out to do any ‘climbing’, and definitely don’t learn as you go on the big mountains, as above, prior preparation is key!
If however, you’re not too keen on moving into the mountain climbing headspace, then you’re just like me – I will be turning my attention to a new environment and have my eyes on our Jordan and Sinai desert trekking expeditions. Swapping snow for sand!
Thanks for reading! For a real deep-dive into the whats, wheres and hows of this epic journey, check out our Guide to Everest Base Camp.
Kerry Bond – Client Manager @ 360 Expeditions