A TREK IS
NOT A CLIMBING TRIP
Whether you begin your trek at a roadhead or fly
into a remote mountain airstrip, a large part
of it will be in the Middle Hills region at elevations
between 500 and 3000 metres. In this region, there
are always well-developed trails through villages
and across mountain passes. Even at high altitudes
there are intermittent settlements used during
summer by shepherds, so the trails, though often
indistinct, are always there. You can easily travel
on any trail without the aid of ropes or mountaineering
skills. There are rare occasions when there is
snow on the trail, and on some high passes it
might be necessary to place a safety line for
your companions or porters if there is deep snow.
Still, alpine techniques are almost never used
on a traditional trek. Anyone who has walked extensively
in the mountains has all the skills necessary
for an extended trek in Nepal.
Though some treks
venture near glaciers, and even cross the foot
of them, most treks do not allow the fulfilment
of any Himalayan mountaineering ambitions. Nepal's
mountaineering regulations allow trekkers to climb
18 specified peaks with a minimum of formality,
but you must still make a few advance arrangements
for such climbs. Many agents offer so-called climbing
treks which include the ascent of one of these
peaks as a feature of the trek. There are a few
peaks that, under ideal conditions, are within
the resources of individual trekkers. A climb
can be arranged in Kathmandu if conditions are
right, but a climb of one of the more difficult
peaks should be planned well in advance.
A TREK REQUIRES
A trek is physically demanding because of its
length and the almost unbelievable changes in
elevation. During the 300-km trek from Jiri to
Everest base camp and return, for example, the
trail gains and loses more than 9000 metres of
elevation during many steep ascents and descents.
On most treks, the daily gain is less than 800
metres in about 15 km, though ascents of as much
as 1200 metres are possible on some days. You
can always take plenty of time during the day
to cover this distance, so the physical exertion,
though quite strenuous at times, is not sustained.
You also can stop frequently and take plenty of
time for rest.
Probably the only
physical problem that may make a trek impossible
is a history of knee problems on descents. In
Nepal the descents are long, steep and unrelenting.
There is hardly a level stretch of trail in the
entire country. If you are an experienced walker
and often hike 15 km a day with a pack, a trek
should prove no difficulty. You will be pleasantly
surprised at how easy the hiking can be if you
only carry a light backpack and do not have to
worry about meal preparation.
in hiking and living outdoors is, however, helpful
as you make plans for your trek. The first night
of a month-long trip is too late to discover that
you do not like to sleep in a sleeping bag. Mountaineering
experience is not necessary, but you must enjoy