Everest Basecamp & 3 Passes Trek

Everest Basecamp + 3 Passes Trek in the Khumbu-Everest region of eastern Nepal

Dates: 21 March - 16 April 2017 (27 days total)
Start: Shivalaya, ~1,800 m
End: Phaplu/Salleri, ~2,300 m
Lowest elevation: ~1,500 m, at Dhudu Kosi River crossing near Nuthala
Highest elevation: 5,643 m (18,514 ft), at Kala Patthar
Temperature range: -10 to high 20's °C
Transport: Bus + legs only! :)

 Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

Trekking Map (incomplete)

Gear

 A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

  • 50L backpack
  • 2L water bladder
  • 1L water bottle
  • 0.5L thermest - amazing for hot drinks
  • water purifier (Steripen Ultra)
  • water filter/pouch (Sawyer mini water filter)
  • sunglasses - so very crucial
  • regional trekking map - also rec'd: offline maps
  • Kindle (Paperwhite)
  • Down sleeping bag rated for -7C/19F (REI Igneo)
  • mini first-aid, sunblock, moisturizer, mini towel

Clothing & Footwear

  • (3) pairs of quick-dry undies
  • (2) pairs of wool socks
  • wool/fleece beanie
  • (2) fleece neck warmer/gaiter
  • fleece gloves
  • synthetic short sleeve
  • convertible quick-dry shirt
  • wool long sleeve base layer
  • quick-dry hiking shorts
  • full-length synthetic tights
  • rain jacket/shell (Patagonia Torrentshell)
  • insulated jacket (Patagonia Nano Air)
  • light fleece sweater (Patagonia R1)
  • lightweight windbreaker (Patagonia Houdini)
  • quick-dry hiking pants (Patagonia Quandary)
  • soft-shell pants (Patagonia Simul Alpine)
  • trail-running shoes (Brooks Cascadia- wore these most of the time at lower elevations and on mild days. more notes below
  • mid-top waterproof boots (Salewa Firetail EVO) - too warm for low elev., primarily used them at 4000+ m. more notes below
  • full-length gaiters (REI Alpine) - see notes below
  • microspikes (by Kahtoola) - see note below

Clothing/gear note: The retail $ damage on these pieces of gear would be nuts. The reason I was able to afford them is because I had worked in the outdoor industry and got everything heavily discounted while under their payroll, and the occasional thrift store gems! REI Garage Sales are awesome, too (sorry folks, they are only in the US). There are many low-priced outdoor gear shops in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and other trekking towns that carry replicas of North Face/Marmot/Mountain Hardwear/etc. base layers, jackets, pants, and accessories for ~20-50% the branded retail cost, and a good number (though certainly not all) of these products function very well, or even just as well as the real thing. That said, I've seen porters/guides/other trekkers hit the trail in the low valleys to high passes with simple shirts, jeans, flip flops, and everything in between. I don't believe there is a "correct way," though I do think there are certain materials to avoid to make the journey more comfortable and be ready for varying circumstances in weather. I'm fortunate to have solid gear that has kept me safe, warm (mostly), dry (again, mostly), and should likely last a long time. I also believe in Patagonia's environmental and social ethicacy and other companies' similar statements, and wish to support their work. 

A water filter/purifer is highly recommended to minimize the chance of catching water-borne illnesses and eliminate the need for single-use plastic water bottles. 

The trail-runners were great and I wore them for most of the trek. Even with temperatures dipping below freezing at high altitude and/or early mornings, with medium-weight wool socks and as long as I kept moving my feet stayed happy. The mid-top boots were welcomed at higher altitudes (4000+ meters), stream crossings, and trekking over ice/snow, and for some additional lateral support, but I am blessed with strong ankles and therefore didn't absolutely need them for this reason. Another benefit with wearing ventilated shoes - MUCH less stink. ;) It's more weight to carry 2 pairs but I felt prepared for the hugely varied and at times unpredictable conditions from 1500 - 5500+ meters.

I think gaiters and microspikes are optional depending on the time of the year and snowfall from previous season. My friends and I started in late March, which is considered early in the trekking season. Folks do trek all year in the region, though with the winter cold between Dec-Mar, much fewer people, including lodge/guesthouse owners, are at higher altitudes. We luckily had friends who had just returned from the region and told us that traction device and gaiters would be useful as they had gotten snowed-in at Gokyo (a seasonal town at 4790 m) for 2-3 days in the 2nd/3rd week of March. I would imagine later in April and May these 2 pieces of gear can be omitted to save space and weight. I couldn't speak for the rest of the year. There's always Namche Bazaar - the hub of the Khumbu-Everest region - to get the latest word on trail conditions and weather and to pick up supplies of all sorts.

Camera Equipment

Additional notes: The focal length range was tremendous and made for nearly every type of shot possible. The quality from those zooms with the full-frame sensor is impressive, however the weight was undoubtedly on the heavier end. More than half my pack's weight was in camera gear and accessories. I would certainly consider a lighter setup (ie: 1 wide angle prime + 1 medium-range prime, like 85/100/135mm) or a mirrorless/micro 4/3rd's camera with an all-in-one + prime lens. The GoPro/monopod combo was great fun to have, and the tripod was essential for me to do night and long exposures as well as time-lapses.

 Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation. Ascending towards the 2nd of the 3 Passes, Cho La (~5,370 m) from Zonglha, 6 April 2017.

Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation. Ascending towards the 2nd of the 3 Passes, Cho La (~5,370 m) from Zonglha, 6 April 2017.

 Ama Dablam (6,812 m) rising into the sky behind tea-guesthouses in Pangboche (3,980 m) on 30 March, 2017.

Ama Dablam (6,812 m) rising into the sky behind tea-guesthouses in Pangboche (3,980 m) on 30 March, 2017.

 Descending from Island Peak basecamp (~5,070 m) back to Chukhung (~4,800 m) as a wet rain/snow mixture was falling on 2 April, 2017.

Descending from Island Peak basecamp (~5,070 m) back to Chukhung (~4,800 m) as a wet rain/snow mixture was falling on 2 April, 2017.

 Walking thorugh the Khumbu glacier just outside Everest Basecamp (~5,300 m) on 4 April, 2017.

Walking thorugh the Khumbu glacier just outside Everest Basecamp (~5,300 m) on 4 April, 2017.

 Dawn hike up to Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) from Gorakshep (~5,150 m) on 5 April, 2017.

Dawn hike up to Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) from Gorakshep (~5,150 m) on 5 April, 2017.

 View from Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) a minute before the sun peeks out behind Everest (dark tall peak on the right) iteself. 5 April, 2017.

View from Kala Patthar (~5,600 m) a minute before the sun peeks out behind Everest (dark tall peak on the right) iteself. 5 April, 2017.

 One of the Gokyo lakes half way up Gokyo Ri on 8 April, 2017.

One of the Gokyo lakes half way up Gokyo Ri on 8 April, 2017.