Trekking in Nepal for age 60+

May 5th, 2014, 03:43 PM
  #1  
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Trekking in Nepal for age 60+

We are mid-60s Americans in good physical shape but we are not mountaineers and have no experience in high altitude. We are planning a trekking trip, hopefully to Everest Base Camp. There are many, many tour operators offering itineraries. Prices are all over the place. We need real-world recommendations and advice. We can spend 3-4 weeks in Sept. or Oct.

Any one who has had a similar experience and can advise about guides and/or itineraries? Thanks in advance.
Joanne958 is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 04:07 PM
  #2  
 
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A friend with whom I've traveled often and far, age about 70 who is in very good shape, lives at 7000' where he runs, went with 2 somewhat younger friends, 50ish, on a trek to Everest Base Camp and they never made it. Accommodations are primitive along the way, my friend ate something, the usual, and had bathroom struggles where there are no bathrooms (side of the trail with no cover) and finally one of the younger men was stricken with severe altitude sickness and they were all helicoptered out courtesy of their travel insurance. He's a tough guy and I've never seen him so unhappy about how a trip went, despite plenty of preparation and buying the best possible arrangements. He'd climbed Kilimanjaro without much difficulty but this was something else.

Given your description of yourselves and after his description of all that can go wrong, even with the best outfitters, because of lack of adequate infrastructure, poor accommodations, bad food, etc., I wouldn't recommend it for anyone.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 5th, 2014, 05:10 PM
  #3  
 
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Why EBC? Plenty of other trekking possibilities. Read the TRs currently in progress here.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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I heartily, heartily disagree with all due respect for MMePerdu. As a 61 year old who is going to do the EBC in just a few weeks this is ONE story that doesn't take into account the many many many many many successful stories of those of us who do indeed go out and do these things and have a great time of it. To wit: here's some basic, simple advice.

1. Take it slowly. Folks our age tend to better at these hikes because we know when to take a break, slow down and pace ourselves. We're not on a race. Age makes us smarter about our bodies.
2. Pole Pole. Swahili for slow and steady.
3. Diomox. The high altitude climbers best friend. It's a prescription for those folks who like their oxygen at high altitude. Those of us who do this stuff often use diomox to help regulate the effects of high altitude. Ask your doctor. I climbed Kilimanjaro, I just did the Inca Trail, I had NO PROBLEMS. Understand the potential side effects as with all Rx.
4. Use a little iron along the way. Iron helps deliver extra oxygen through the bloodstream.
5. Respect the mountain. By that I mean be in shape. Walk the neighborhood, local hills, go to the gym, workout, push yourself. Not to the limit, but develop your endurance. You don't have to be an endurance athlete to do this, but you don't come here dragging a lot of extra weight. Research the programs online for ideas, there are many of them.

6. Get and use excellent hiking poles. I never travel without mine. I have a knee that talks nasty to me going downhill and when that happens, I want support. We all need it, young and old. My advice is to always have some kind of walking stick or telescoping lightweight walking poles to take the load off and help with balance.
7. Eat smart and bring snacks. Not chocolate and junk, but good snacks that keep your energy up. Drink tons of water and put a supplement called Octane which tastes very good, goes into your water and replenishes what you are using up as you are hiking. Get a backpack that allows you to use a Camelbak or a Platypus.
8. Even though I am a pretty serious athlete I trained for five months prior to doing Kilimanjaro. Before you sign up for EBC, I strongly recommend you take about 3-4 months and put in some time at the gym, walking, hiking, being active so that the demand that is placed on you does not overwhelm.
9. Check in with Passport Health. They will provide you with all the shots and the meds you need to deal with traveler's trots, tummy disorders, local bad guys and all the rest. I swear by them and I go international four times a year.
10. Altitude sickness is no joke. It will hit the healthy and the non healthy. Learn about it and understand it. You can slow down, drink more, wait, and sleep low and keep going. But do your due diligence. Diomox helps a great deal.

This is definitely an adventure. You have to do your research. But just because one person knows someone who had a bad experience doesn't mean much. Many people in their sixties and seventies have done EBC. I'm sure this story is true. However you can go write your own adventure novel or you can let one person's story scare you away. I vote for doing your own research, getting in shape, understanding the risks, and taking life by the horns and saying get the heck out of the way, here we come!
jhubbel is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 05:32 PM
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One final note- you said that you're considering going in late summer, early fall. You've got the whole summer to get in shape. Here's the best part. You make a serious commitment to do this adventure of a lifetime, you stand there at the top of this amazing mountain range and you realize you've done it, and then you realize, there's not much else you can't accomplish.

Or you can stay home and in twenty years say you wish you'd done it way back when.

If there is a stadium near you, there are stairs. If there are stairs, you can climb them. You want to be in the most amazing shape of your life by the end of summer? Find that stadium. Try contacting Ace the Himalaya. I like their record. He's who I'm going with on May 20th. As for gear, take a look at The Clymb. They have terrific discounts for very good brands.

Hope this helps. And I hope nothing stops you.

And btw, thursdaysd is right- lots of other adventures other that the EBC- just don't let one bad story stop you.
jhubbel is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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I wouldn't consider trekking to EBC - degraded environment, not very scenic - but there are plenty of other options in Nepal.
Kathie is online now  
May 5th, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Jhubbel - I'm not sure what I said that you could disagree with. It is what it is. You eat what's there, if it makes you sick, you are. You also say that altitude sickness can strike anyone and it did. The facilities are what they are and what they aren't. And since you haven't done it yet, I'm not sure you're the best source of information either. The person whose story I tell is not a complainer and 2 of the 3 of them, in excellent shape, were unable to complete their trek for different reasons. I'll be interested to hear your advice after you've actually done it.

I think Kathie has the right idea, do a less strenuous trek with more possibility of enjoying it.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 5th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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There are myriad other treks you could do & enjoy. The EBC isn't my idea of an entry level trek.

It sounds as if MmePurdue's friends over-reached & possibly under-researched.

I'm older than you & did my first trek anywhere in Nepal in 2012. That was Pokhara to Poon Hill & back. I went back last year & spent 2 weeks wandering around the Khumbu region with a Guide & a Porter. I found the latter an easier walk, mainly because there are fewer stone staircases. And, being just the 3 of us, I walked at my own pace & itinerary. I've started a trip report - should finish it this week, if you're interested.

I'm Australian, no prior mountain experience other than flying over & driving through in Europe. As I said, I'd not trekked at all before, and I could have benefitted from more stair & hill training than I did, but it wasn't a serious detriment - would have just made big steps easier for short legs.

Getting sick can happen to anyone, anywhere. In my experience, it lasted about 24 hours in 2012, put me on a pony instead of walking, and was in no way a deal breaker. Others may not be as resilient, have a worse bug - or go to fast & without sufficient hydration.

Of course the accommodation along the trekking routes is primitive according to western standards. There are no roads. It's a developing, 3rd world country - the very reason most people go there is for the experiences of being far away from their home cities & in a different environment.

There is a very nice
Japanese hotel above Khumjung. Built in the 1970's at huge expense and with many of the ff&e flown into the Syangboche airstrip.

Jhubel's & Kathie's advice is good.

If I'd taken any notice of advice from friends' friends & particularly from those whose own experience was either nil or 10 years old, I'd have never gone.

They had no idea whatsoever of me, my fitness, travel & life experience, comfort levels. As I don't of you, OP, apart from what you've said here.

I like luxury as well as the next person, and there are places you can get it in Nepal. Just can't have it and an authentic trekking experience concurrently.

I'd encourage you to go. Embrace the challenge, enjoy the unique experiences. Take your time. smell the daphne, masala tea, daal bhat - and rhe clean air of the mountains. pick 3 rhododendrons & stick them in your hair,hat or pack. Listen to the silence of rhe forests, rhe burble of steams & the twitter of birds.

Pack a sense of adventure, flexibility, humour - a good medical kit & your walking poles. Get good travel insurance that covers medevac. Leave all expectations of anything being the same as home, at home.
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 08:06 PM
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Bokhairy2, MmePurdue's friends neither over-reached nor under-researched. The reasons for not finishing were unpredictable. My entire point. Many do fine, I'm sure. But why not pick a route where success is more likely and the way possibly more enjoyable? Unless they feel they just must. Then that is reason enough.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 5th, 2014, 08:27 PM
  #10  
 
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Fair enough, MmePerdu.
On re-reading your thread, I realise you're recommending a different trek, not abandoning the idea altogether.

My mistake. My apologies.
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 08:36 PM
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Accepted.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 6th, 2014, 11:16 AM
  #12  
 
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Joanne--

I hope I can help you a bit. We are pretty much the same demographic, and we are just back having spent 3 weeks in Nepal in March. When we started planning our trip we seriously thought about a trek but a shorter one. I sought advice, and we finally decided against a trek and instead decided to do some day walks. If you decide to trek, definitely check out the lesser-known Tamang Heritage Trail because it sounded like a good one.

After a couple days in Kathmandu we went off to Balthali village Resort for three nights precisely because wanted to do some walking. http://www.balthalivillageresort.com/ As soon as we arrived we thought to ourselves, OMG what in the world did we get ourselves into because we will be stuck here since any walk means climbing back up to this place. We really liked the place and by the third day we'd become much more accustomed to the climbing up. So, my first piece of advice is if you do decide to do a trek, first go to some place like this so that you can have some practice while still heading back to a pleasant place to spend the night.

When we were in Bandipur we wanted to do a local day trek, but the manager of the Bandipur Inn where we were staying kept asking us if we were sure we wanted to attempt this since it is difficult nine mile walk. He warned us that it would be beastly hot in the sun and that there were many ups and downs. It was a lovely trek but became difficult because we got caught in an unseasonable downpour out on the mountain with no place for shelter. Our guide finally took us to a local "farm" where we sheltered for over an hour on a "porch".

On all of these treks we were so, so glad to have our trekking poles and couldn't have made it without them. This was especially the case in the rain because the dirt turned to slippery mud on top of slippery rocks.

After these walks we decided that we probably could have physically done a longer trek. But, we also decided that we really preferred the day walks with the option of going back to a nice lodging at night. Kerr and Downey and other companies run luxury treks where you could have the option of a multi-day trek staying at nice lodging (if that is what you want).

We also went to Nepal in the winter so we really didn't have time to train, and we live in a flat location which makes it even more difficult for training. I guess I should also mention that we are not luxury travelers and we have visited many developing countries, but as we age we have definitely found that we prefer more comfortable accommodation. We used to camp quite a bit (no long backpacking trips though) so are no strangers to roughing it or the outdoors. We found that much of Nepal is rural and it is quite easy to get out into the countryside and walk through villages and rural landscape.

Obviously, everyone is different and only you know what you want to do and how much physical challenge you truly are up to. Have fun whatever you decide.

Watch the film Team Everest (about the first group of disabled climbers to do this) to get an idea of what some of the conditions are like on the EBC trek.
julies is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:09 AM
  #13  
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You've all given me a lot to think about. We are unquestionably committed to going, it is the level of the trip that needs to be considered more thoughtfully. Thanks for the good advice about poles and medical, and alternate itineraries.

Deluxe accommodations are not necessary. Last year, however, we signed up for a day hike in Iceland (10 miles up and down 5 peaks, difficult terrain), that the tour operator pooh-poohed as being 'no problem if you are in decent shape.' It was way, way, way beyond my ability. It was extremely miserable for the day. I would not have survived 2 weeks of similar.

Any/all further input is much appreciated. Thanks for all your advice so far.
Joanne958 is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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I have found that in my 60's, in my long-distance walking travels, being comfortable with the level of physical activity and the duration of the day's walks have become far more important to me than "conquering" terrain. So I've given up the big climbs and decents and now choose my paths for the countryside they traverse, usually alongside waterways, and find I'm enjoying myself much more than the last few before I made the decision. Enjoyment is the thing, no longer struggle.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 7th, 2014, 09:39 AM
  #15  
 
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It's been a dozen years now, but I've done five Nepal treks, the last when I was 52. Sure, something can go wrong on any trip, and you do have to be extra careful in a place like Nepal, like don't tie your boot laces then absentmindedly touch your fingers to your lips. That's asking for trouble.

But if you want to go, then go. One very important thing is to have a close look at the planed itinerary and ensure that the days are not too long and the ascent time allows for proper acclimatization. About 5-6 hours trek time with a camp no more than 1000 feet higher than the prior camp is a reasonable guideline.

Chose a reputable outfitter who has been around for awhile.

There are indeed many other spectacular regions in Nepal, but if you want to trek under the shadow of Mount Everest, then that's a valid reason to go there. You don't have to go all the way to EBC however. Have a look at the Gokyo region, for example.

Good luck with your planning and have a great trip.
Nelson is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:43 AM
  #16  
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Mme, I agree. I am, however, sharing the trip with an alpha-male who would happily die on the mountain if it made for a good story. Moderation is not in his vocabulary. I'm sure you know people like that. So we either have to find a happy compromise that will not leave him feeling cheated or take different itineraries.

Anyone else out there who have faced this dilemma? How did you resolve?
Joanne958 is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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Joanne, remind him, if he dies on the mountain, it'll be you getting the last word with his story! Better to ease up and live (intact) to tell the tale.

Yes, the alpha males I described at the top were just such and 2 of the 3 younger than yours.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 7th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Honestly, hearing what you had to say about your day hike in Iceland, I'd be very, very cautious in your shoes about signing on for a two week trek in Nepal. As I said, watch the film I suggested because one of the participants in that trek was a middle-aged (or older) woman (able-bodied) who couldn't complete the trek to EBC because it just got too tough for her.
julies is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 12:10 PM
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I think alpha-male should go on his own to suffer and leave you sipping chai in a nice hotel (with a view)! Seriously.
MmePerdu is online now  
May 7th, 2014, 12:24 PM
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Joanne,

I am sort of in your position as I know my DH would love to do a Himalayan trek but I'm pretty certain that i'm not in good enough shape to do one [and honestly never likely to be] but he is. my thoughts about this got as far as looking at several brochures, and one that caught me eye was this one:

http://www.keadventure.com/countries/02/nepal.html

what I liked about it was that they grade the treks, and seem to be pretty honest about it. There are ways of getting to see Everest without going to base camp - that might be a better option.

there are loads of other companies too, but this might be a good place to start.
annhig is offline  

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