Last year I trekked in the Himalayas for the first time – in fact it was actually my first trek anywhere. I just happened to jump in at the deep end and do one of the most difficult treks first.
I look back now and I remember being up at Gorak Shep, at 5,288 metres, one of the bleakest and most inhospitable places, and I remember thinking, ‘yes, I’ll probably trek again but I don’t know if I’ll do it at this altitude.’ But something must have happened, something must have worked its way into my brain, the experience must have had more of an effect on me than I realised at the time.
In a perverse, masochistic sort of way I must have enjoyed it. The proof is in the fact that I’ve booked to go again early next year, to do another, slightly more difficult trek.
As I plan and prepare for it this time, the shopping for the gear I’ll need is a lot easier. Obviously I’ve got all the major stuff, like boots and pack and clothes and sticks and all I’ll need to buy are the smaller consumables. I’ll need to put together my personal first aid kit again, I’ll need to stock up on snacks and I’ll need to make sure that I’ve got new, spare batteries for torches and cameras.
There are a also few things, that you probably wouldn’t think of, that I won’t go up there into the Himalayas without.
1. My GoGirl
If you’re a bloke reading this, please – skip over it and move on to number 2 in the list – you’ve got your own equipment to deal with this problem.
With the *interesting* toilet facilities along the track and the nights spent in campsites and lodges with even more *interesting* sanitary conditions, anything that will make life a little bit easier is very welcome.
Last year when I was preparing for the trek, in anticipation of a few problems relating to how I was going to ‘go’ up there in the mountains, I bought myself a GoGirl. To give it the correct terminology it’s a FUD (female urination device), but I think we’ll stick with GoGirl, I can’t quite bring myself to ask for a female urination device at Mountain Designs.
I wasn’t really sure if I’d use it or even if I’d figure out how to use it, but the Girl Guide in me reminded me that it was always best to Be Prepared.
Let me tell you – it was a godsend and thankyou to whatever smart lady invented it.
As I trekked with World Expeditions we were staying in tents for the majority of nights, and in lodges for the others. I certainly did not want to venture out of my tent in the middle of the night to stumble across a field in pitch darkness to find the toilet block and then have to worry about dealing with whatever less than sanitary type of ‘toilet’ we had on the campsite.
Ditto for the lodges, where the *facilities* tended to be even less salubrious than the campsite ones.
I think you get the message – much easier ladies to take your GoGirl with you, grab an empty two litre water bottle and pee in the privacy of your own tent or room (I am assuming here that you’ll have the room to yourselves, otherwise, well, maybe not).
Note: I did pay the single supplement in order to have a bit of space and privacy – I’m glad I did.
Not the snappy, bitey type that would eat you as soon as look at you, no, I mean the plastic clogs that look absolutely ridiculous on anyone over the age of eight.
Before last year I’d never bought any, I’d never worn any and I had no intention of doing so.
While I was researching the first time around, I came across the blog of a guy who’d done the Base Camp Trek (unfortunately I can’t remember which one it was because I would love to have thanked him), and one of his tips was to take along a pair of crocs (or the cheap equivalent).
His argument made sense – they weigh next to nothing, you can wear them with a thick pair of socks and they’re easy to slip on and off around the camp or in the lodge.
So before I went I bought a delightful white pair with a very fetching plastic flower on the top of each one. They cost me $9.00, they looked stupid and they’ll be going back again with me next year. They were so comfortable, so easy to slip off when I went into the tent and so easy to clean if they got messy.
It is sooooo nice to be able to swap the hiking boots for the comfy Crocs at the end of a long, wearying day.
Get yourself the cheapest, brightest pair you can find and everyone else on the trek will be envious.
3. Plastic bags
I didn’t take enough last time so next year I intend to be prepared.
I’ll be taking lots of ziplock bags with me in various sizes. They are so handy. What will you put in them you may ask …..
- Wet socks/undies/clothes.
- Camera chargers.
- First aid stuff.
- Notebook & pen.
I’ll also be taking a couple of large, heavy duty garbage bags. They come in handy for lining your kit bag before you put everything in it. The porters carry our kit bags on their backs, from one campsite to the next, and if it rains the water will get through. Best to line the bag first to at least deter some of the rain.
4. Hand sanitiser
WARNING: DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.
Gallons of it!
Don’t buy it in big bottles, don’t get the pump packs – handy at home but useless on a trek in the Himalayas. Buy lots of small bottles, the 50ml ones. Then scatter them around – one in the main part of your daypack, one in the little zip pocket on your daypack, one in your pocket and several in your kit bag.
With the sanitary conditions being what they are up there – the less said, the better – you need to be constantly vigilant when it comes to keeping your hands clean.
There are several other things that I’ll also be taking that I found useful the last time round, you might like to consider packing any or all of these if you’re doing any form of trekking, not just the Everest Base Camp trek.
- Travel washing line.
- Head torch.
- Dry bags – separates your clothing and also keeps it dry. Get one large enough to put your boots in, particularly for packing in your suitcase for the trip back home.
- Small nail brush – this is a particular hint for Australian trekkers. Australian quarantine is very strict on any dirt and soil that enters the country (and rightly so – they’ve kept us free from many diseases and bugs). When they know that you’ve been trekking in Nepal they will be concerned about your boots and your hiking poles. Take a small nailbrush with you and you can give them a good scrub before you return and thereby avoid any issues when you come back into the country.
- Spare boot laces.
- Snacks – You need something to give you a bit of energy during the day and keep you going. You can buy well known chocolate bars at the lodges but they can be expensive and I found that some of them were a tad ancient. Take some with you – I found the mini bars ideal, I put 3 or 4 in a zip lock bag in my daypack and each time we stopped for a break they were easy to handle. Others in the group took a fruit and nut mix or trail mix in individual little bags. Your choice.
- Spare camera batteries and memory card – most lodges on the trek will charge your batteries for you (at a cost – the higher up, the more the cost), but best to be on the safe side with spare ones.
- First aid kit – As I’m going with a well established and reputable trekking company they have an extremely well stocked first aid kit and the guides are trained in altitude first aid. I will still take my own personal kit with me though, it’s better to be over prepared than not have a bandaid or headache tablet when you need one. I put everything in that I could possible have need of and I think it’s a worthwhile precaution. If you’re not going with a travel company it’s essential.
I hope that gives you a little bit of an idea when to start when it comes to packing for your Everest Base Camp trek. If you’d like any more advice on this just ask me in the comments or contact me through my contact page.