I was fortunate enough to trek to Everest Base Camp this month, and I wrote this up about my experience.
It was mainly for friends and family and isn’t my tightest piece of writing, but I thought I’d post it on Finn’s Cave, because fck it, if you’re procrastinating so hard that you’re reading Finn’s Cave, you’re might be interested in this account.
I once asked an interviewee if he had a good time during his undergrad at University of Chicago.
He says, “Oh sure, but it was Type 2 fun. You’re not actually having fun at the time, but you convince yourself at a later date that you had fun.”
Trekking to Everest Base Camp was the perfect example of Type 2 fun (which basically exists because the Peak-End Rule, one of the famous psychological heuristics brought to light by Danny Kahneman and Barbara Fredrickson.)
Like the idiot who drunkenly commits to running a half-marathon in two weeks without thinking about the consequences, I decided last minute to join a trip to Everest Base Camp under the justification “there is no way I will regret having done this.”
This logic was entirely correct, incidentally, a key reason why Type 2 fun activities permeate the world.
- The Himilayas are incredibly beautiful
- Nepalese people are deeply nice
- I got an obscene amount of exercise
- I had awesome, awesome conversations on the trail with my friends
- I lost 10 lbs, which is always a fun surprise at age 34 (although this was mostly because I took four days off of eating while still trekking 10 hours/day)
My brain has decided that this was really a fantastic trip and remembers it mainly as these two photos:
However, mid-trip, this is how I described the experience to Tim:
Imagine a ski trip at a really fancy resort. You ski in beautiful mountains during the day, and while it can be tiring, every night you relax in a luxury lodge with amazing amenities. Now, make the following amendments if you want to understand trekking to Everest Base Camp:
- Replace skiing for 6 hours with hiking, generally uphill, for 8 hours
- Replace 8,000 foot maximum elevation (using Vail as a baseline) with 9,000 foot starting elevation, and add 1,500 feet every day, all the way up to 17,600
- Replace delicious food that includes vegetables and proteins with the same rotating menu of almost all starches (pizza, pasta, white bread, potatoes) that gets worse every day you get higher in elevation and makes your stomach feel terrible
- Replace really comfortable beds with very basic mattress pads that get harder every day you get higher in elevation
- Replace sleeping through the night with getting up every hour to urinate because Diomox, the altitude medicine that stupid gringos like me have to take, is a diuretic
- Replace your bathroom being in your room and warm with the bathroom being down a hallway and very cold
- Replace insulation in your room with basic plywood, so every night your room is colder and colder, starting at ~50 degrees and ending ~20 degrees by Loboche, the last stop before base camp, which we dubbed “The Gulag”
- Replace not getting a brutal 24 hour flu virus with getting a brutal 24 hour flu virus 2/3 the way up the mountain (one of the guys in our group got it close to base camp and had to get helicoptered out)
- Replace eating full meals every day with eating no full meals for four days after said virus
- Replace not having to take four immodium every morning to deal with effects of said virus with having to take four immodium every morning and imagine how that feels on your stomach
- Replace central heating with yak shit heating in only one room, which is the room you eat in
All in all, not the “funnest” time a human can have, right? That said, since humans are insane, and I’m a human, I have great memories and will be the asshole stridently recommending it to others at some point in the near future.
I would also note that had I not gotten sick, the experience would have been significantly more pleasant.
A note on the Apocolypse Draft
Prior to this trip, I always considered myself at least top 25% when it came to who would get drafted before a coming apocolypse. I’m tall! I played rugby! I run a small business! Surely I would do ok in an apocoplytic scenario.
Now I would probably say I’m in the bottom 20%?
Here is the order of toughness that I encountered on my trip, alongside a 1-10 rating:
- Porters – 10 (These dudes physically carry most of the things that are required for civilization in the towns around Everest. They also carry gringos bags, two at a time, and move ridiculously fast. As far as I could tell they barely eat or drink water, and their accomodations were significantly worse than ours.)
- Guides – 9.5 (They carry their own full bag, don’t get to sleep in their own room, and have to make sure all the gringos don’t die on the mountain – all the way being pleasant and accomodating as fuck.)
- People who live in the villages around Everest – 9 (The villages are EBC are not for the soft. They are cold and resources are very limited.)
- Me (not sick) – 6
- Me (sick) – 1.25
All in all, very, very humbling to see how hardened (and still very pleasant!) the Nepalese were, and a stark reminder of just how luxurious life is in a place of resource and infastructure abundance.