Mount Everest

I snapped this photo of Everest in 1991 from 18,700 feet (5700 meters) on Pumori Ridge above Kala Pattar, a viewing hill for Everest. You can’t see Everest from its base: the summit is blocked by the shoulders of the mountain. The fellow in the photo is a climber from that year’s French team, who happened to reach Pumori Ridge at the same time I did.

In a way, it’s easy to get to 5,487 meters (18,000 feet) on Everest. All you have to do is walk: no actual mountain climbing, such as rock or ice climbing using ropes, chocks, ice axes, etc., is necessary. The best way to do it is this: Get a one-month trekking permit in Kathmandu, then take a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri, at 6000 feet. Then walk ten days to Namche Bazaar at the entrance to Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, then another seven days up the Khumbu Glacier to Everest Base camp at the foot of the mountain at 18,000 feet.

Some trekkers and climbers fly into Lukla airport at 9,383 feet, and trek up from there. Bad idea: it’s very easy to get altitude sickness that way. By hiking in from 6000 feet, you acclimatize. An average walker need only hike five hours a day; in fact, you shouldn’t hike farther. The reason is that each night you should only sleep 300 meters (1000 feet) higher than the night before. Every third night you take a rest night: go up several thousand feet during the day if you like, but return to sleep at the same elevation that night.