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From Nepal Everest Base Camp Trek To 6000m Peak

Mar 2024

Stepping up from the Everest Base Camp trek to climbing a 6000m peak in Nepal

Reaching Everest Base Camp (EBC) is an incredible achievement that many individuals aspire to accomplish in their lifetime. The sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with standing at the base of the world’s highest peak is undeniable. However, for some, the desire to push themselves further and reach even greater heights to 6000m becomes too strong to ignore.

After returning from EBC with the bragging rights and memories to last a lifetime, the thought of standing on top of a 6000m peak begins to take hold. After researching trekking peaks such as Mera, Lobuche, and Island peak, one starts to wonder – how hard can it really be? These peaks are classified as trekking peaks, not climbing, which may seem less daunting than attempting a more technical ascent.

Making the leap from an EBC trek to attempting a 6000m peak requires thorough preparation, physical fitness, and mental perseverance. While they may not require technical climbing skills, these peaks still demand a high level of endurance, acclimatisation to altitude, and the ability to navigate challenging terrain.

So what does it take to make that leap….? I’ve outlined my thoughts below from personal experience.

 

The right equipment and how to use it

Having the right mountaineering equipment and importantly knowing how to use it correctly and confidently is paramount.

Crampons: One crucial skill that can greatly enhance your efficiency and safety on steep, icy terrain is the ability to put on and safely use crampons.

While some tour operators claim that prior crampon experience is unnecessary, having this skill will undoubtedly benefit you during your ascent. By familiarising yourself with crampons and practicing on snow/icy terrain, you will move more efficiently on summit days, thereby reducing fatigue and increasing your enjoyment and chances of success.

Mountaineering Boots: In addition to crampons, investing in a pair of 6000m/7000m warm mountaineering boots is essential for your journey. Finding the right fit for your feet is crucial, as comfort and support are so important in high-altitude environments. When selecting crampons, ensure they are compatible with your chosen boots to optimize performance and safety.

Climbing gear: Fixed lines on peaks such as Lobuche and Island Peak require climbers to have essential equipment such as a Jumar/Ascender device, a belay device, a harness, and carabiners/slings. It is not enough to simply purchase or hire this gear – thorough knowledge of how to use it, is essential for your safety and success.

 

Do you have a head for heights?

The exposure on summit days (and some of the high camp approaches) is far greater than any day on the EBC trek. You need to have a good head for heights and be ok to trek in windy and cold conditions, often where there is no shelter.

 

Staying Healthy

You need to do everything you can to stay well during your trek up the valley. Climbing at altitude is near impossible if you are already fighting a bad cold, flu or stomach problems. So prevention is the best way to make sure illness doesn’t impact your expedition. Good hand hygiene, brushing your teeth with clean water (not from tap), wearing a buff along the trail and being careful of the food you are eating are all good methods for prevention.

 

Prepare for long summit days

Be prepared for long summit days and have the physical endurance and mental strength to complete them! You start around 3am on summit day, to give yourself enough time to get up to the summit when conditions are cold and stable. This also means you can get off the most dangerous part of the mountain before the sun starts to heat up the snow/rocks. This is crucial for avoiding rock fall, crevasses and avalanches.

Length of time away from home

Be prepared to be away from family, friends and your job for a bit longer than for Everest Base Camp trek. Reaching over 6000m takes significant acclimatisation and requires some good weather days for your summit attempt. However the days trekking along the valley should be nice and familiar, and you already know all about life in the lodges and along the trail (unless you are heading to Mera).

 

Physical and mental resilience

It is essential to be in peak physical condition to tackle the demanding challenges of climbing at high altitudes. The physical challenges faced during the ascent can be arduous and prolonged, but the breathtaking views from the summit make every hardship worthwhile. Being in good shape also means you will enjoy the experience more, and less likely to be impacted by altitude sickness (although this is not guaranteed). Mentally, summiting a 6000m peak requires a great deal of determination and motivation.  During the times where you want to give up, you need to find an inner strength that allows you to keep going. For me, when I go through those times, my moto has always been ‘the pain and/or discomfort cannot last forever’ and I always focus on getting to the next rest stop rather than the summit itself or even that days destination.

 

Embarking on the journey to summit a 6000m peak (especially on Everest) is not to be taken lightly. It necessitates a deep commitment to training, determination, and respect for the mountain environment. The allure of standing on top of a peak is undeniable, but the journey to get there requires dedication and a willingness to push oneself beyond perceived limits. But the rewards of reaching the summit are incomparable to anything experienced in the valley below.