Revised gear list for trekking the Himalayas

This is an update to the Everest packing list I posted before my trip to Nepal. Looking back, there were items I wished I’d brought or brought more of, and a few things I didn’t use and subsequently gave away to save my porter and me some extra ounces.

Things I didn’t need or need as much of:

  • International plug adapters. I brought three, only needed one with a USB input.
  • Baby wipes. I brought three packs of 42-count, only needed half of a single pack.
  • Paper shower wipes. I brought a dozen, and only needed four for the coldest and highest parts of the hike where there was no running water.
  • Gaiters. Never needed them.
  • Laundry detergent pods. Never needed them. I was able to pay for a three or four, small pieces of clothing to be laundered during certain stops along the trip. Underwear would have been considered rude to give to the Nepalese to wash, so I was glad I brought enough for the whole trip. At lower altitudes, you can also wash and dry underwear yourself and leave it in the sun to dry.
  • Camelback water bottle. I should have tested this out on a few local hikes before bringing it to Nepal. But like a rookie, I tested it out on the trail and hated it. I was so grateful I was able to pick up a trusty Nalgene bottle in Namche Bazaar.
  • Hand and feet warmers. I tried once to keep them in my gloves for a 15,000 foot trek and either the altitude impacted their effectiveness or it was too cold to feel them. They were useless.
  • Rugged camera. I took a single test picture below 12,000 feet, and then kept it packed the rest of the trip. All images were captured by my iPhone 7 plus.
  • Keen sandals. I donated the them to one of the girls who worked in a hut. They were heavy and clunky and unnecessary. My gyms shoes were softer, more comfortable, and warmer in the huts.

Things I used every day or almost every day:

  • Deodorant, chapstick, sunscreen – all of it religiously
  • Toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste – same
  • Body soap, shampoo, and body sponge
  • Moleskin or some kind of blister repair tape
  • Talcum powder surprisingly – reduced moisture in socks and kept feet fresh
  • Backpack (no brainer) and hiking poles – saved a few tumbles
  • All of the jackets I brought – raincoat, down puff, fleece hoody, fleece jacket
  • Beanie and buff – everyday above 13,000 feet
  • Baseball hat – everyday below 12,000 feet
  • Sunglasses – everyday no matter what
  • Jolly ranchers – they were nice to have on a the dusty trail, plus made for nice gifts for the hut staff and breaks with the sherpas or porters

Things I wished I brought or had more of:

  • Airborne chewables instead of EmergenC powder
  • Nail clipper (purchased in Namche)
  • Nail file
  • Pumice stone
  • More moleskin or blister tape

Trekking the Himalayas especially over 16,000 feet is tough and grueling. But it can be made oh so much better with the right gear. Most of my feedback on gear and supplies is completely personal preference. Test all available and reasonable options and do what works for you.


Finding Everest

Reaching Mount Everest base camp wasn’t a goal I had planned on attaining. Sure, it was on a bucket list. It sat somewhere at the bottom between racing a motorcycle at 200 mph and getting into space. But, everything changed last summer.

For almost a year, I struggled with all kinds of pain; first hip, then back, then leg, then foot, then hip again. It’s as if the pain was trying out different places in my body to find the perfect home, like Little Red Riding Hood. Neck to was too high. Foot was too low. Hip was just right. Once it pulled back the covers and got cozy, it stayed a long while.

At first, I thought I just needed rest, so I stopped running. The pain continued, so I stopped going to the gym. When the pain started waking me up in the middle of the night, I went to to the doctor. They sent me to physical therapy. It didn’t help. It increased the aching and soreness. I went to acupuncture. It almost helped. I went to the chiropractor. She sent me to get an MRI, which came back negative. Several weeks more with chiropractor visits that included pressure points, stretches and back adjustments, I still had pain.

It was then that I decided my body was revolting about something other than my physical activity. Stress has a funny way of manifesting itself, as does depression, sadness, guilt and frustration. Whatever was going on with me, I wanted to find it and fix it. So when the MRI came back negative, I decided to go to Everest. Whatever was ailing me, I believed it could be healed with a twenty-two day solo trip trekking in the Himalayas en route to the highest mountain in the world.

This idea seemed absurd to most people and unnecessarily risky to others. Why go halfway around the world to hike forty miles up hill when you can barely walk? It made no logical sense whatsoever. People thought I was being foolish. I understood their skepticism and concern. But my pain wasn’t logical. There wasn’t anything the doctors could find or point to and say, there. There is your problem and here is your cure. Since nothing on the outside could seem to fix the pain, I felt like I should go inside. I meditated and prayed and listened. Then without warning, I heard a small still voice saying go do something hard, something solitary, something meaningful. Get away from work. Get out of your head. Now get up and go. So I did. I found something hard and solitary and meaningful. Trekking to Everest base camp checked all three boxes even though it was at the bottom of the list. And as luck would have it, I had scraped up enough vacation time to make it work during the optimal Himalayan trekking season. I finalized the trip in early September and flew to Nepal on November 4.

With only two months to train, and I use the word train loosely, I knew it was going to be difficult. But how difficult and for what reasons, I couldn’t have foreseen. The terrain was in one word: unforgiving. If you dare to adventure the same path, go prepared. All in all, I felt I was prepared. Maybe not physically with only two months of preparation, but I had a solid packing list that saved me ample pain and suffering. While there, I became awfully sick. Let’s call it food instability issues, but it was probably some type of food poisoning. And antibiotics, ever grateful I had packed them, eventually knocked it out.

To set my eyes on Mount Everest was exhilarating, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, and it would take a better author to try to explain it. But the destination was only part of the reward. The journey was the other. My hip pain flickered only twice and very early in the trip. The rest of those those twenty-two physically grueling days trekking to and from Kala Patar were hip pain-free. Don’t get me wrong, on the way, I suffered from sunburn, blisters, diarrhea, headaches, altitude sickness, food poisoning, dizziness and dehydration. But not a peep out of my hip. For a year that pain had plagued me. Now under the direst of circumstances, when I would expect it to get first in line with all of the other ailments, it magically healed. I had almost forgotten about it completely until I returned home.

Whether you call it instincts, gut feeling, intuition, still small voice, angels or God, there is a force inside of you that knows what is your next best step. The trek to Everest taught me a lot about different parts of the world, cultures, commitment, perseverance, and myself. The most valuable lesson I took away from the experience, besides always take antibiotics to a third world country and when the CDC recommends rabies shots heed their advice, is to trust yourself.

There’s a biblical proverb that says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In my experience, we should also listen to our guarded heart so we know what to do when it tells us so.