This fall, I went to Nepal to climb to ABC3 of Mt. Everest. I went to Everest with a friend of mine from Utah, and then met up with my Sherpa friend who was our guide.
People always ask me when I decided to climb on Everest, and that answer is vague. Realistically it didn’t have a specific date, but when I was 13 I met two climbers who had just come from Everest. And then when I was a little older, my dad went to base camp. I applied for my permits about 17 months before my trip start date, and when they got approved, booked my tickets. The only really planning was gear, and other than that I just focused on training and being in the best shape for the Everest climb. I’m pretty laid back, and I have learned over several trips that things rarely go as planned…so I didn’t plan too many other things.
Gear is essential, and I was packing for a very large array of climates and activities. From ice climbing gear and rock climbing gear to beaches, hot weather, and items to survive in the jungle. It was a weird trip to pack for. I also try to pack minimally. Lower how many outfits I take. Cut the tags out of my shirts. Saw my toothbrush in half. There is a full post about the very essentials I took with me on my trip, which you can find here.
My trip was absolutely incredible. I embraced every single moment…even the bad ones. I have never been to Nepal before, and have dreamed of going. The most memorable moment for me was the first time I saw the mountain Ama Dablam, and the first time we had a view of Everest. Ama Dablam is the most majestic mountain that I have ever seen. It juts out into the skyline sharper than any other peak, and really steals the view. It’s incredible. It’s covered with hanging glaciers. Everest was our goal, so seeing it for the first time was exciting. It wasn’t just that, but it’s MT EVEREST! And it solidified that we were here and about to do something awesome. Pretty much every part of the entire trip was unexpected, and almost nothing went to plan. We were on nature’s schedule…and if big storms rolled in, we had to change our plan. Every day ended around 3pm…because nasty storms came in the afternoons. That meant VERY early starts to our days. I have preexisting knee injuries from ski trips that flared up mid trip…and we had to adjust…which meant quicker up-hill days because I knew I would struggle coming back down. Everything after base camp was a challenge…but a fun one. Something I learned was that no matter how fit you are, or how much skill you have (in rock climbing, snow expertise, ice climbing…etc.) altitude trumps all of that. Altitude makes you feel drowsy, slow, and overall every. single. action. that you take 5 times harder. You have to really focus on the tasks you want to do.
One of the biggest, and hardest, things for me when planning any expedition…and during the expedition…is my nutrition. I am naturally a very tiny and wiry person, and have a pretty fast metabolism… which can become an issue on pretty extreme days…and even more so when I have countless days like that back to back. Weight is always an issue for me and I can’t lose too much. My goal is to lose none at all. Before my trip, I aimed to gain 10 pounds…that I knew I would inevitably lose (historically from past expeditions). I was concerned about having enough food high up on the mountain (because weight of our packs was also a concern). So, I looked for high calorie, light items to take with me in addition to the traditional Dal Baht we were eating 3 times a day. Heathers Choice was perfect. My absolute favorite thing was the Packaroons, every flavor. It was nice to mix it up, and have a delicious snack mid day. (Or for me…a couple times a day). In the beginning, I was definitely feeling adequately fueled…but the higher I got and more exhausted I felt…it was hard to keep that feeling. I ate A LOT of snacks…and ran out completely before we even reached ABC2. I still had my normal meals…but my snacks were gone. Whoops! But, the Packaroons and breakfasts from HC kept me fueled and added that extra boost I needed during the day.
If you are planning a trip like this…it’s good to talk to people who have done it before. But specifically relating to food, evaluate what YOU need specifically. Speak to a nutritionist. Everyone needs different things, and a lot of people I meet want to do exactly what I did, because it’s easy. But the truth is…the nutrition aspect is the hardest part of the trip. What are you willing to sacrifice in weight to have in food? What kind of food do YOU need? Are you looking to gain weight, lose weight? How long is your trip, and where are you going? Will the climate work with the food you are bringing? ALL of these questions, plus many more, are different for every person.
I will definitely be going on another trip like this. Ama Dablam is on my radar for 2019, and the research of routes has already begun.
Follow my adventures on Instagram @kelli_spencer or online at www.kellispencer.net.