10 things you must know before trekking to Everest Base Camp
By: Private Expeditions
Everest is still, and will always be, the most coveted goal for serious climbers setting their sights on conquering the World’s highest mountain. As such it has a great attraction for ambitious trekkers who wish to walk in the footsteps of these Everest expeditions to get a taste of what Everest Base Camp is really like and stand in the mighty shadow of this goliath.
Many operators are cashing in on this boom with scant regard for either their clients safety or the laws designed to protect them. And this is made easier for rogue operators as online travel has in parts become the lawless wild west of the travel industry.
An internet search for “trek to Everest Base Camp” throws up lots of impressive looking websites but many are “virtual businesses” – just a man, a website and a phone. Climbs are routinely sub-contracted to local operators without quality controls or risk assessment; European laws designed to protect consumers are flouted; and many operators do not even bother with basic insurance. They are disasters waiting to happen. And in the case of trekking to Everest Base Camp disaster may mean a fatality from Altitude Sickness.
When searching on the internet for “trek Everest Base Camp” some companies will say this about insurance “I am afraid that it's an awkward situation, in that we can't get insurance for taking treks on the mountain” (Nonsense!) and on the safety of customers money adds “ I can promise you that we are healthy financially .....but I can't offer you any guarantees beyond my word” (Even though EU law makes it illegal not to provide a lot more than your word). And a response from another web operator shows the root of the problem: “We are a UK registered company for the sole purpose of booking and banking.” Presumably this is meant to let you know that the UK registered company doesn’t do anything like comply with UK laws.
This sort of deliberate deception is not just boring bureaucracy:
To ensure your experience trekking to Everest Base Camp is safe and fun use this checklist to vet your operator.
1. Make sure the operator is a member of ABTA or similar?
Membership of a recognised travel body, while not a guarantee of quality, is a good indication that the firm you are looking at is reputable and trustworthy.
2. Check that they have financial bonding and insurance
Bonding means that whatever happens you are protected financially and proper insurance not only provides protection but is another good sign of quality as an operator cannot get insurance without having well prepared operational and risk management plans
3. Ensure they will provide qualified guides on every trip and a minimum ratio of 1 guide for three climbers
Maintaining a high guide ratio ensures that the needs of every climber can be looked after
4. Ask if you are being offered a private or group climb and a fixed or flexible itinerary
Group climbs and fixed itineraries can be cheaper but the real price paid is that the success rate is lower and a cheap climb that doesn’t get you to the top can later seem very expensive
5. Check the quality of the equipment they use and the food they provide on the mountain
Most Everest Base Camp treks are accommodated in teahouses, however, if you are booking a Fully Catered Camping trek then ensure that you find out that they are using good equipment. The Himalaya is a very tough environment and a small cramped tent that leaks will totally spoil your climb as surely as a lack of good quality food.
6. Ask what happens if your flight is cancelled or your luggage delayed
Flight delays and lost luggage are an all too familiar part of life in Nepal so ask what happens if you arrive a day after the climb is scheduled to start! Has it left without you?
7. Ask what happens if one of your group falls ill and has to descend
Sadly some people will get sick on the Everest Base Camp trek and are forced to descend. Check it is possible to continue so that at least some can reach your final goal.
8. Check what is included in the price quoted
Compare costings carefully- even some of the largest operators miss out the cost of the food or park fees of up to £250 per person in the prices they quote and add these on as a locally paid cost
9. Ask for real live customer references
Do not just rely on website testimonials-
10. Check that they operate responsibly and treat their guide and porter team well
Ask if they are a member of the IPPG or at least follow their guidelines to ensure the best conditions for their crew.
None of this of course is rocket science and it might seem a bit like hard work but if you are spending the best part of £1000 on a trek and potentially risking your life isn’t a bit of checking things out worthwhile.
Page Updated Last on: Nov 12, 2013