Help me make a trek to Everest Base Camp more enjoyable
August 24, 2010 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be trekking to Everest Base Camp in 8 weeks time. It's a 14 day trek, which is both longer and higher than I've been before. I'm looking for advice on training for the trek.

I'm a 37 year old female who is slightly overweight (BMI 26.5, body fat 34%). I trekked to Annapurna Base Camp 2 years ago and while it was a struggle at times, I made it without any significant problems. But this is a more strenuous trek by far, and I while I'm fairly confident that I can do it at my current weight and fitness level, I'd prefer to enjoy it rather than just survive it!

The things I think I need to improve on are:
- losing weight – the less I weigh, the less I have to lug up the hill!
- leg / glute / back strength
- lung capacity / oxgyen utilisation – to make best use of the limited oxygen at high altitudes

But clearly I'm not going to get to optimal level on all 3 in the next 8 weeks!

I joined a gym 3 months ago, I go about 3-4 times a week, and have lost 10 pounds and 3% body fat in that time, so I'm on the right track. But I don't really have a training program, I'm just doing a random combination (depending on what I feel like at the time) of squats / lunges / situps / dorsal raises, long cardio sessions (treadmill with the incline turned way up, or stepper), “interval” training on any cardio machine, and classes like spinning or circuits. I've spoken to the personal trainers at the gym but none of them have any specific advice for training for trekking.

Am I on the right track? Should I have a more structured training plan? What would it look like? What should I focus on? Am I just deluding myself that I'll be okay?

posted by finding.perdita to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Actually I've always found it better to have some weight on treks like that (used to trek a good bit). You may or may not lose any weight on the trip, as alot of the guides these days feed their clients really well. Honestly, the best thing you can do is get out and hike. Gyms are alright, but on the weekends, put on a day pack (~20 lbs or so) and go for an all day hike. Just walk. Walk all day.

As for acclimatization, there's nothing you can do except take diamox before you get there. Get there a day or 2 early and walk around, it'll help! If you can hit some 14'ers, DO!!!
posted by TheBones at 5:20 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, just saw you were in the UK- 14'ers are out.
posted by TheBones at 5:21 PM on August 24, 2010

Best answer: The gym training is great, and I recommend you keep it up, but remember, the body is very good at adapting to fairly specific types of stresses.

So, the best way to get in shape for, say, walking uphill long distances over uneven terrain while carrying a pack is to go out and walk uphill for long distances over uneven terrain while carrying a pack.

In short: If at all possible, find a nearby hill (doesn't have to be huge) and get outside with a pack on your back! Do some local hikes with a pack - you can load it up with water bottles or something if you want. Just going up and down a local hill over and over would be great. Or jog up a hill and back down and repeat. Try loading a pack with weight that is heavier than you would be carrying on the real trip. Stuff like that.

Like I said, keep all your gym training though.
posted by Diplodocus at 5:55 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need to find a professional trainer who has experience with everest base. That's it.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:37 PM on August 24, 2010

Best answer: Good job on the progress you've made so far. This sounds like an awesome trip! Too bad you couldn't have posted this 3 months ago so you could have started a structured training regimen. With 8 weeks to go there isn't a whole lot of good killing yourself in the gym will do as far as gaining much muscle.

I'll reiterate what others have said, if you can find the time, walk as much as you can (read at least an 8 hour day) with a pack weighted to around or heavier than what you'll be carrying. The up and down stairs recommendation is good but if you can I'd try to get outside sometimes on steep terrain to make it more fun.
I'd recommend running outside and sprinting hills on days you don't have hours to hike. I would NOT do this weighted though. You don't really want to risk injury.

Look up breathing exercises. They will help increase your lung capacity. If you do those every day I'm sure you'll be able to increase your capacity a little.

You should be able to cut a lot more weight in the next 8 weeks as well. Really dial in your diet and eat very clean. With all the extra cardio training I wouldn't be surprised if you lost another 15lbs. Just make sure you are eating enough and accounting for all the extra training.

/Disclaimer, I've never been that high but I'm in good shape and have done multiple 14'ers in a day in winter. I'm jealous and wish I could go with you =]
posted by zephyr_words at 9:12 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've did EBC in 2002. I did it three months after coming out of a cast for a broken shin.

It's not actually that hard, in terms of your legs. The reason for this is because of the altitude you rarely walk for more than four or five hours a day. All the difficulty is the altitude which you can't really train for, but you do get used to. In general terms, if you're reasonably fit, you should be able to do it unless you're one of those people who really struggle with altitude. What you're doing seems fine.

It only gets really hard above about 4000m. And if you do get altitude sickness, you go down a bit, wait and try again (unless it's really serious). Pretty much everyone around there knows what the symptoms are and whether it's minor or major.

You do not need a professional trainer at home or a guide there. It's just a long and quite attractive walk; the trail is very well defined and there's accommodation and food the whole way up. You don't need to walk eight hour days either right now either. I've done far more intense, leg destroying hikes at much lower altitudes. It's more of a long haul than a sprint. Incidentally, when I got to the summit of Kalar Patar I was with a Scotsman who smoked a cigarette at the top (5550m) and had smoked the whole way up.

Don't take Diamox beforehand. Take some as an emergency measure sure, but you are far better off acclimatising naturally which most people can do.

It's actually not a bad idea to have a bit of extra muscle/ fat when you start as you will lose a lot of weight. I lost at least a stone, maybe more. About 10 months after EBC, I failed to summit Mt Aconcagua (6950m) by about 300m. One of the biggest factors in this was being very skinny when I started as I've since been over 6000m a few times and found it nowhere near as hard.

Some more here. Feel free to email me at the address on my profile (I'm in London).
posted by rhymer at 2:29 AM on August 25, 2010

A friend did Base Camp a few years back, and while I can't offer any training advice, I can say this: she was incommunicado for a few days, while they made it to the last village. Neither she nor her husband expected this (since the experienced team she was going with made it sound like there was daily internet access), so it was a bit uneasy at first for us on this side of the silence...

Let your friends & relatives know that such a thing is to be expected, and you'll notify them when you get there.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:12 AM on August 30, 2010

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