Tibet 8000m. Climbs Preparation
In our 17 years experience in the expedition that it is not a joke over the 8000 meter high mountain. This is a real expedition. Whether you are on a guide-assisted climb or with your own team and remember you are in China or in Nepal and high in the Himalaya, this is not Disney World. Please be considerate to all officials, your fellow climbers and all the climbers and crew on the mountain; treat them as you wish to be treated.
The fitter you have been over the past several years, the better your chances. It is useful to have good aerobic fitness and perhaps also some extra upper body muscle to lose. If you are of a lean build you might want to put on a few extra pounds, if you are already heavy then consider carefully whether to put on extra weight, you lose muscle but not fat at altitude. Some people lose a staggering amount of weight on a big climb, but at least some of this can be avoided with protein and carbo supplements itself.
You don't need malaria prophylaxis for this climb or for the time spent in Kathmandu. Please discuss if you are traveling through a malarial region prior to arriving in Kathmandu.
Normally it takes several weeks before you really feel OK before go to mountain from ABC or good at high altitude. You must have some knowledge about high altitude.
You must have some previous special exercise before come to Kathmandu for the over climbing 8000 meter high mountain and you must know something that about how to stay healthy while trekking and in climbing. You must be preparing to climb up the mountain mentally, technically and physically. For this we call Health and success.
You are responsible for obtaining your visa for Nepal read Nepal Visa and Expedition Permit Information page. We get your visa and permits for Tibet - Tibet (China) Visa and Permit Information visa page.
8000m gear discussion
8000m expeditions are as real as it gets. You need a lot of gear, plan it very carefully and remember that you have to carry your personal equipment on the mountain. You can now buy some of the expensive/hard to find items in Kathmandu. This page is written specifically for Nepal Himalaya expedition as well as Tibetan Himalayas specially Cho Oyu, Shishapangma and Everest from the Tibet side.
What you are planning for
Basically you should plan with 5 specific climates/functions in mind:
- 7500m and above
- Normal variable mountaineering conditions
- Intensely hot mountaineering conditions
- Base camp/ABC living
- Travel-trekking to the mountain
Obviously much of your gear will fulfill multiple roles however it is useful to have two sets of stuff such as sleeping bag, Thermarest and foam pad so that you can leave one set at ABC and use another up on the mountain. Two sets are useful but not necessary, if you don't mind carrying your gear all the time. Although there is no strict weight limit you shouldn't have more than 40kgs of gear and, if on a guide-assisted climb no more than 10kgs of snacks/treats required.
8000 Meter Gear
Conditions en-route to the summit very tremendously from day to day and year to year. You have must to be prepared for the worst. It is essential to be fully insulated with down all over and to be fully wind-protected. With so little oxygen in the air you have trouble keeping warm, even while exercising. It is normal for a midnight start, and 8000m. nights can be rather chilly to say the least.
- Down/Prima loft mittens, and make a system so that they are attachable to your down jacket/suit. Bulky down mittens are easily purchased in Kathmandu.
- Down suit OR very thick down jacket and down pants.
You normally use a down suit from Camp 2 to the summit (applies to all mountains), nowhere else on the mountain unless conditions are particularly bad. Underneath it is normal to wear thick thermals or a stretch fleece bodysuit with a mid-weight top next to the skin. If you go for down pants and down jacket ensure the waist area is well protected. The down jacket should be one of the thickest made. Something thin like a North Face Nuptse jacket is NOT good enough. For pants, down bibs are better but down pants with braces will do. Down suits are now available in Kathmandu for less than US $300. Some designs are better than others but all are serviceable and appreciable.
- Ski goggles are optional - they tend to fog up except in windy conditions. Clear goggles are very useful for Everest, to protect your eyes from the wind on that midnight start.
- Water bottles/hydration system that can be stored inside your down suit/jacket. If you have a system with tubes you MUST keep the tubes under your jacket/suit the whole time, only digging them out to drink, otherwise they will freeze, insulating tubes or not.
- 2x brand new thick socks for the summit attempt, these should be mainly wool. Hard to find in Kathmandu, bring from home.
- Optionally 1x brand new liner socks; some people prefer them, others hate them. The best liner socks I have used were smart wool ones.
- Boots. You have four choices: Millet Everest (red and black in color), La Sportiva's equivalent Olympus Mons model, the Crispi or use your normal (WARM) plastics and a full over gaiter /super gaiter - lined gaiters that enclose the entire boot including the sole (we have four sets).
The warmest boot available is the Millet Everest, the La Sportiva Olympus Mons is next and has better feel. Scarpa and a couple of other companies make similar boots but they aren't as warm. All features a removable inner boot, stiff foam middle held together mainly with wide velcro straps and around it all a built-on gaiter. These boots, used and new, are usually available in Kathmandu for around US$450 or less. They are surprisingly light and extremely warm but a bit clumsy. It is normal to use them from Camp 1 and above on Cho Oyu, above camp 0.5 on Shisapangma and from ABC on Everest. It is not necessary to have another set of plastic boots. You don't use super gaiters or ordinary gaiters with these. La Sportiva's or Everest's or Crispi's? The La Sportiva's have a slightly tighter fit and feel more like a normal boot, the climbers I have met with them are mostly happy. Millet Everest's are definitely floppier but slightly warmer. Crispi's have a slightly narrower cut and seem to fit women well.
ENSURE YOUR CRAMPONS FIT whichever system you are using. Grivel G12's and the latest Petzl's with the plastic strap system for heel and toe fit big boots well and are simple to put on. The fit should be good, but not tight as your feet can swell at altitude. Don't get boots two sizes too big.
Light summit day pack. If conditions are good it is likely that you will leave this en route once past the most difficult sections unless using oxygen.
General all weather mountaineering gear
5700-7100m: you are climbing at the beginning or end of summer and mostly it is not particularly cold during the day in the sun. When there's no wind and the sun is shining a thermal top is enough, backed up by a fleece or light down jacket for rest stops and a windproof breathable jacket for when the wind picks up.
- For the head: high quality glacier glasses, spare glasses, good sun hat, warm hat that fully covers your ears, neck gaiter, thick balaclava, very thin balaclava or face mask.
- For the hands: brand new liner gloves, fleece gloves/windstopper gloves, windproof down/fleece mittens and make a system so that they are attachable to your climbing jacket and down suit/jacket.
- Collapsible trekking pole: (some people prefer to use a pair)
- Light ice axe: There are a couple of steep sections, both ice and rock, but it is better to go light than technical.
- Strong crampons: If you bring aluminum crampons bring another steel pair. Bring anti-balling plates.
- Light harness: (Black Diamond Alpine Bod is perfect), jumar, belay device (ATC, figure of 8 etc)
- 2x locking karabiners: several plain karabiners, 1x prussic cord to complement your jumar, safety sling.
- Water bottles/system: for carrying 2-4 litres
- Pee bottle: (that doesn't leak!)
- Reasonably new 4-5 season sleeping bag: with at least 1kg/2.2lb of down. This is for Camps 1, 2 and 3. I feel that second-to-top of the range is enough but this is debatable; 1.4kgs of down is heavy and not necessary, although it is very comfy. Good bags are available in Kathmandu but are only a little cheaper than the USA. You can rent reasonably good bags.
- Thermarest (or similar) and foam pad: Sleeping on a COLD glacier, a Thermarest isn't enough so the combination is better and safer. Inch thick Thermarests (ie GuideLite series) are better than 3/4 inch, but either will do, just remember you have to carry it. The thinner your Thermarest the better your closed cell foam pad should be.
- Expedition-weight set of thermals.
- Fleece body suit (best) or second set of thick thermals or thermal top and some fleece pants/bibs.
- Set of mid-weight thermals: white if possible - see below.
- Plenty of brand new socks of various thicknesses, including light or mid-weight.
- Fleece jacket.
- Climbing jacket: windproof and breathable.
- Climbing bibs or silhouettes: windproof, breathable - and perhaps a thinner pair of windproof pants.
- Wind-suit: This is an alternative to using a jacket and bibs on the mountain. Some people like them and some don't. If you bring a suit also bring windproof, breathable jacket and light windproof pants for the trek into ABC.
- Leggings/light: trekking pants for warm conditions walking and climbing, especially between ABC and Camp 1.
- Leather boots: You need a set of leather boots for walking from base camp to advanced base camp and the many runs you will do between ABC and Camp 1 on Cho Oyu/camp 0.5 on Shisapangma / BC-ABC on Everest. The terrain is rough with a lot of rock to trip on. These boots should be broken in but still capable of lasting the expedition; they will see a lot of use. These will also do as camp shoes.
- Normal gaiters: for use with your leather boots and with your plastics (up to 7100m).
- Big volume backpack: Even on the guide-assisted climb, you still end up carrying a lot of bulky down gear moving between camps so you should have a large but relatively light big pack.
- Larger daypack: with a waist belt for our acclimatization day trips.
- Torch/flashlight: The LED multi-bulb ones are great around camp, with two sets of good batteries enough for an expedition. For climbing the ultra-bright LED torches are the best, avoid all headlamps with normal bulbs. They break up there.
- Roll-on deodorant: You will be amazed at how approachable you still are after five days without a shower IF you have deo!
- Helmet: Although there is a danger of rock fall in the mountains and peak climbing in Nepal and Tibet. You are welcome to bring a helmet but virtually everybody does without.
During the middle of the day at 6000-7000m on the snow, the sun can be INTENSE. Every expedition had a couple of days where you feel breathless in the sun. It really helps to have one set of white thermals or a white cotton shirt.
- White cotton shirt or white set of thermals with long sleeves
- Nose sun protector for use with your sunglasses. Anything will do, home-made is fine, as long as it doesn't interfere with breathing.
Base Camp and Advance Base Camp evening gear
Around base camp and ABC you can wear camp shoes or leather boots. Although plastic boot inners are warm, the sharp rock underfoot trash them.
- Substantial down jacket. As well as wearing this to the summit perhaps, you'll wear this around camp during the evenings.
- Thick fleece pants or Prima loft pants
- Base Camp and Advance Base Camp sleeping bag. This should be 4 season although a fleece lining (available in Kathmandu) can do wonders. It saves you a lot of ferrying if you have two sleeping bags, one for BC-ABC and one for on the mountain. You can get serviceable sleeping bags in Kathmandu for US$ 200-300
- Sleeping bag liner. Silk is nicest but cotton or fleece will lessen the rate of grime accumulation.
- Base Camp Thermarest and mat. On the guide-assisted climbs we provide a closed cell foam pad and an open cell mattress.
- Base Camp and Advance Base Camp pee bottle
Travel and Trekking Gear
You will use this gear from touchdown in Kathmandu to base camp. Obviously there is a lot of crossover; most of this gear can be used on the mountain too. Gear storage in Kathmandu is free so you can leave a clean set of clothes there, if you want.
- Trekking pants and shirt
- Thermal top
- Fleece jacket
- Windproof, breathable jacket
- Sleeping bag or sleeping sheet (the quilts and mattresses are not too clean
For the trek from BC to ABC be prepared for fine weather, wind and snow.
What is available in Kathmandu?
There are dozens of gear shops in Kathmandu but they mostly sell locally made fake gear. There are a few better quality shops but they don't sell whole lines of branded gear, just a small selection, enough however, if you are not fussy to equip yourself here. You can find good new and secondhand Millet boots, cheap thick down jackets, cheap down pants, sleeping bags, and all sorts of fleece gear (made from Korean fleece). Things that are difficult or impossible to buy are good socks and thermals.
We provide 3 substantial meals at Base Camp and Advance Base Camp but you will still want plenty of snacks for in between times, especially while climbing in between camps. Variety helps when you don't feel like eating. Count on sharing a few with the Sherpas too.
Eye surgery and climbing
Lasik surgery does not preclude climbing Everest. Four climbers with the surgery reached the summit of Everest. Note that some climbers experienced frozen corneas or something similar; we will discuss this.