Even though Base Camp is at the base of Mountain Everest, it is still very high: an altitude of 17, 598 feet (5,364 meters). Neither Caitlin nor I had been anywhere near that high. EBC is higher than the peaks of the highest mountains in the continental U.S. (which are around 14,000 feet) and in the alps. Altitude sickness, or AMS, is a real and serious risk at this height. AMS affects everyone differently and actually has nothing to do with physical fitness. It is just a chance thing that no one is quite sure why it effects who it does, but it can be deadly.
Lack of Oxygen/Fatigue
Extreme Weather Conditions
After three very stressful days, we had secured two porters, a guide and all the gear we needed for our trek. Most hiking duos use just one porter instead of two, but after seeing our ridiculously full and heavy duffle bags, we felt there was no way human could carry both those bags (over 40 lbs) up a mountain, in the high altitude. After a few days on the trek, we came to realize how wrong we were as the Sherpas are incredibly strong people and were carrying loads 3X or 4X that. Oh well, we gave someone else employment for 2 weeks. The night before the trek began, we barely slept more than 3 hours due to our anxiety of the upcoming journey. Not a great way to start out 2 weeks of hiking.
Due to my fear of flying, particularly on an old, Nepali plane into the most dangerous airport in the world, we booked a helicopter into Lukla for just a little bit more money. Turned out to be an amazing ride with the spectacular Himalayan scenery in the backdrop. Seeing the mountains as we flew by, I knew these next two weeks were going to be epic...