3 Weeks, 6 Days and 7 Hours …. but hey, who’s counting?

may 13thThat would be me actually. I have a new found obsession with the calendar, as if suddenly overnight I’m going to lose a few days. I know that tomorrow I’ll be one day closer to leaving than I am today, why do I need to keep checking?

For those of you who may have stumbled across this blog recently I’m heading for Kathmandu in, you guessed it, 3 weeks, 6 days and 7 hours, to begin a trek to Everest Base Camp. If you want to know why, it’s all explained up there at Everest Base Camp trek: Why. And if you go to the Challenge to the Girls page you’ll find out all about the fundraising I’m doing in the process.

After 10 months of preparing and training for this mad adventure I must admit to getting a little bit nervous and I’m starting to worry about my abilities in this high altitude environment. I know I’ve spoken to several people of my age who’ve done the trek and without exception they all managed it and recommend it. But then I hear of people younger than myself who’ve really struggled, both with their fitness and the altitude.

I know my fitness is up there after all the training, I don’t know how many other nearly 60 year olds would be able to do a 9.5km walk with a pack on 2 or 3 times a week, and I’m still climbing the steps occasionally, although it’s more about endurance now. There’s no way of training for altitude though and I guess that’s what’s niggling at me right now.

Other little niggles include but are not limited to:

  • Do I have enough sugary snacks to take  – need to keep my energy levels up during the trek?
  • What’s the best way to carry my camera and have it handy while I’m actually struggling up the track?
  • How many spare batteries and memory cards should I take for the camera?
  • Do I just use the boiled water provided every day by the treking company (World Expeditions) or do I get a steripen or sterilization tablets, or is that overkill?
  • Where is the queue for the visa at Kathmandu airport going to be? Silly question I know but I like to be prepared.
  • How many t-shirts will I need?
  • We’re having a ‘Black Tie’ dinner at Thyangboche to celebrate the actual 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest on 29th May 1953. What the hell do you wear to a ‘Black Tie’ dinner in a marquee outside a monastery, half way up a mountain, at 3,500 metres above sea level? Bearing in mind that the temperature is likely to be registering somewhere around the bottom of the thermometer during this event and we’ve got a strict weight limit on what we take up the mountain. Oh, and there’ll be VIPs there so a girl needs to look her best.
  • Do I buy lightweight underwear (of which I have one pair at the moment) or are knickers light enough anyway? I know you don’t need to know but I need to share.
  • And while I’m sharing, will I manage to pee standing up, with the help of my Go Girl FUD, without getting stage fright?

So much to think about.

Please, feel free to jump in here with answers or suggestions to any of the above questions, otherwise I’m going to have to figure it all out myself.

The calendar’s still saying 3 weeks, 6 days and 7 hours ……. Maybe next time I look it’ll have changed.

12 thoughts on “3 Weeks, 6 Days and 7 Hours …. but hey, who’s counting?

  1. I believe the older you get the better your stamina is. Look at all the top marathon runners…Definately take lots of batteries and memory cards it would be heart breaking to run out, and we would miss sharing it with you. Good luck and enjoy 🙂

  2. Let me help you!!

    1) I had a whole side compartment of my big rucksack full of sugary sweets. It’s nice to share, and Haribo goes a long way. Especially on Base Camp day.
    2) You’ll not be struggling, it’s not awful. Carry it in a side pocket of your bag, slung on you and in your day bag. You’ll be able to stop and take pictures no problem.
    3) I took one spare battery and one spare memory card. You have to pay to charge your battery but mine actually did really well and stayed charged after Namche. Just make sure you hide your spare somewhere warm for that final shot incase the cold affects your current one!
    4) Sterilisation tablets are probably easier. You can get boiled water but the logistics of this are a bit complicated, especially with an organised schedule and stuff. You’ll be thirsty enough that the taste won’t matter, trust me.
    5) The queue for the visa is really straight forward. Follow all the other trekkers, and make sure you’re standing in the foreigners queue. You’ll need to fill in a landing card also, make sure you pick the one in English and not Nepalese and bring a passport photo.
    6) I brought 5 T-shirts and one spare in a dry bag for absolute emergencies. I also kept one ‘clean’ pair as pyjamas/slept in my base layers as it got colder!
    7) By the time you get to Thyangboche you’ll not have had a hot shower in 5 days. Don’t stress about black tie, order a wash bowl (hot water) so you can at least shampoo your hair and wash your face and your feet. Down jackets all the way I’m afraid. The monastery is brilliant btw.
    8) I brought normal knickers and washed when I could (Namche) but I know people that brought very cheap underwear and threw them out each day. Lightens your bag (a little bit) and you don’t need to worry about bringing your best! Sports bras if you’re used to wearing them, but regular are fine too. No one asks but it’s an important question!!
    9) Good luck with the stage fright, my advice, just do it the Nepalese way! 🙂

    GOOD LUCK!!!!! Don’t stress about Altitude, take it as it comes, and listen to your guides. xox

  3. Hi there! Very excited for you that your trip is ahead of you while mine is – sadly – over now. Some thoughts for you having completed the trek twice now:
    – Don’t worry about your fitness – the die is cast now. It sounds like you’ve trained hard so you should be fine – the trek is demanding but not impossible. Just go at your own pace and enjoy it!
    – Sweets are good to have but you can but Mars, Snickers, Bounty etc all the way along the trail so don’t worry about running out. They cost less than a US dollar in the Namche shops, up to maybe 3 USD at the higher altitude lodges.
    – I just took a small pocket camera which I popped in a thigh pocket or the waist pouches of my day bag. One of my trek-mates had an SLR which she had slung round her neck but often had behind her balanced on the top of her rucksack. I wouldn’t have thought of that but it seemed to stay up there fine and worked really well.
    – I also took just one spare battery and one spare memory card. Depends how much you use it, or course, but I only had to pay for two charges in the whole trip. Prices for charging ranged from 1.25 USD per item to 2.50 USD per hour, but my battery only takes about an hour to charge so it wasn’t much.
    – You will probably be fine with the boiled water, but I also had a steripen (I think they’re great as they’re instant). On the last trek I used sterlisation tablets and those were fine too but I’m not crazy about drinking in all those chemicals, hence investing in the pen. Either way, I think it’s useful to have two drinking bottles so you have one for treating and one to store/consume your treated water from. On both treks I used a 1L Nalgene bottle for treating, and a 3L Camelbak for drinking.
    – I’ve been to Kathmandu several times and sometimes the visa queue is short, and sometimes horribly long. It will be what it will be. Just make sure you have both the forms filled in when you get to the front (there is an arrival form and a visa form). I like to get the forms and fill them in while I’m queuing – it’s a bit tricky writing standing up, but you get into the queue sooner that way than if you use the counters.
    – I took three long sleeve and three short sleeve base layers, and found the long sleeves more useful as they’re warmer when it’s cool and keep the sun off when it’s hot. I don’t like to wear a lot of sticky sun-screen when I can’t shower it off again easily. If I went again I’d replace two of the T-shirts with light long sleeves, or throw in my Rab Aurora windshirt which is just great for keeping off the sun and the wind (and even a light shower). http://rab.uk.com/products/womens-clothing/windshell/p-women-s-aurora-pull-on-p.html
    – No idea re black tie, but would concur that it’s likely to be down jacket weather so plan on a warm outfit!
    – I also took normal knickers – 10 old pairs in case of laundry losses, and duly lost 2 pairs that way in Pheriche! It’s reasonably easy to get them washed and dried (either by doing it yourself or in the lodges), and I think they’re pretty light anyway.
    – As for peeing – I did get some stage fright (you may have read my pee funnel post!) but managed to overcome it. The best piece of advice I got – don’t worry about an accident. I had visions of total catastrophe but in reality the worst that can happen is that it dribbles a bit down your leg, and my boyfriend assures me this can sometimes happen to guys to. It will dry fast in the dry mountain air, and your trousers can easily be laundered (or at least rinsed) that night ready for the next day. No biggie.

    That seems like a lot of stuff. Hope it’s useful. If there’s anything else you’d like to know just ask.

    Have an amazing trip!

    • Thank’s so much for taking the time to leave such useful comment fors me. It’s good to know I’ll be able to get my chocolate fix up there. I’m at that point where you’re sure you’ve forgotten something but, hey, too late to worry about it. 🙂

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