You can go about planning an expedition to summit a mountain like Everest in several ways. While there are different schools of thought, all focus on one main objective: How best to deal with Everest’s massive height and consequently, the effects of altitude on your body. Put simply, the air has less oxygen the higher you climb. While your body reacts to an increase in altitude by producing more red blood cells to carry more oxygen to your organs, this process can take a day or more. More importantly, the ability to produce red blood cells declines quickly at very high elevations. Combined with the fact that the body needs more oxygen when conducting strenuous activity, it should come as no surprise that any climbing activity at high elevation puts a serious strain on the body’s capacity to adapt.
Above 6000m, it is commonly believed to be impossible to acclimatize to the altitude as the body begins to deteriorate and is unable to adapt and recover from injuries. Elevations above 8000m are referred to as “The Death Zone” because the body stops performing as it should and major systems begin shutting down. Altitude-related life-threatening conditions can develop quickly.
For these reasons, most mountaineering teams employ a simple climbing strategy: Climb high; sleep low.
As you view my tentative itinerary below, you will note the amount of time spent resting at Everest base camp in comparison with time spent higher on the mountain. Bear in mind that this itinerary is only meant to give you, at best, an approximate idea of where I will be in Nepal at any give time. In truth, everything will turn on the weather and what my body is telling me.
Wednedsay, April 4 – Arrival in Kathmandu (1300m).
Tuesday, April 10 – Fly to Lukla (2860m). Trek to Phakding (2650 m).
Wednesday, April 11 – Trek to Namche Bazaar (3450m).
Thursday, April 12 – Rest and acclimatize in Namche.
Friday, April 13 – Trek to Pangboche (3750m).
Saturday, April 14 – Trek to Pheriche (4250m).
Sunday, April 15 – Trek to Dugla (4600m).
Monday, April 16 – Trek to Lobuche (4900m).
Tuesday, April 17 – Trek to Gorak Shep (5150m).
Wednesday, April 18 – Trek to Everest basecamp (EBC) (5360m).
Thursday, April 19 – Rest and training day in EBC.
Friday, April 20 – Rest and training day in EBC.
Saturday, April 21 – Trek to Mt Pumori basecamp (5300m) and sleep there.
Sunday, April 22 – Trek to Mt Pumori advanced basecamp (5700m); return to EBC.
Monday, April 23 – Rest in EBC.
Tuesday, April 24 – Trek to the top of Kala Pattar (5500m); return to EBC.
Wednesday, April 25 – Rest in EBC.
Thursday, April 26 – Climb to Camp 1 (5950m); sleep there.
Friday, April 27 – Climb to Camp 2 (6400m); return to Camp 1 and sleep there.
Saturday, April 28 – Return to EBC.
Sunday, April 29 – Rest in EBC.
Monday, April 30 – Rest in EBC.
Tuesday, May 1 – Climb to Camp 1; sleep there.
Wednesday, May 2 – Climb to Camp 2; sleep there.
Thursday, May 3 – Rest in Camp 2.
Friday, May 4 – Explore route to Camp 3 (7150m), return to Camp 2; sleep there.
Saturday, May 5 – Return to EBC.
Sunday, May 6 – Rest in EBC.
Monday, May 7 – Rest in EBC.
Tuesday, May 8 – Climb to Camp 1; sleep there.
Wednesday, May 9 – Climb to Camp 2; sleep there.
Thursday, May 10 – Rest in Camp 2.
Friday, May 11 – Climb to Camp 3; sleep there.
Saturday, May 12 – Descend to Camp 1 or Camp 2; sleep there.
Sunday, May 13 – Return to EBC.
Monday, May 14 – Rest in EBC or descend to a lower village.
Tuesday, May 15 – Return to EBC from lower village. Rest in EBC.
Wednesday, May 16 – Climb to Camp 1; sleep there.
Thursday, May 17 – Climb to Camp 2; sleep there.
Friday, May 18 – Climb to Camp 3; sleep there.
Saturday, May 19 – Climb to camp 4 (7925m); sleep there.
Sunday, May 20 – Summit attempt.
Monday, May 21 – Return to Camp 2; sleep there.
Tuesday, May 22 – Return to EBC.
Wednesday, May 23 – Rest in EBC.
Thursday, May 24 – Second summit attempt (if needed): Climb to Camp 2; sleep there.
Friday, May 25 – Climb to Camp 3; sleep there.
Saturday, May 26 – Climb to Camp 4; sleep there.
Sunday, May 27 – Summit attempt.
Monday, May 28 – Return to Camp 2.
Tuesday, May 29 – Return to EBC.
Wednesday, May 30 – Pack up EBC.
Thursday, May 31 – Trek down to Pheriche.
Friday, June 1 – Trek down to Pangboche.
Saturday, June 2 – Trek to Namche.
Sunday, June 3 – Trek to Lukla.
Monday, June 4 or Tuesday, June 5 – Flight to Kathmandu.
Wednesday, June 7 – Departure from Nepal.