"Having completed Everest Base Camp in December 2019 (as a vegan) I have put together a few common questions and things to consider before setting out."
Is Everest Base Camp In December Possible?
Absolutely! Though I’m not going to lie its cold as all hell at night. Most tea houses do have a big stove in the common area which they switch on in the evening, a welcome comfort after a long day's trek. The rooms we stayed in were not insulated from the cold and not heated, they kept the wind out, but that's anbout it.
How cold is Everest Base Camp in December?
In December the temperature at night plummets, down as far as -24 at Gorak Shep (real feel of -32 degrees) however, don’t worry you won’t die. So long as you are layered, stay in a tea house and hop straight into your sleeping bag when going to bed you will be fine.
I highly recommend bringing a Thermos along with you and filling it in the tea house with hot water before going to bed, hands down the best thing to sleep with. The next day you can drink the water on your trek so it serves a dual purpose, particularly as you have to pay for hot water.
During the day whilst trekking, you warm up pretty quickly as you will get a lot warmer as you start to move. I was absolutely freezing in the morning, but after an hour of strenuous walking I got really warm.
Everest base camp in December is awesome purely because of the fact that it’s the off season, which means very few people afoot. The tea houses are less busy and the mountain paths are empty. I was told by our guide that during October and November, it can get so busy that there are queues up the mountain (which just sounds awful.)
Also, if you don’t do a luxury trek you will likely be staying in tea houses that only have 1-2 toilets for the entire establishment (sometimes just long drops). In December there is no running water - now imagine no running water and two dodgy loo's to share with a tea house full of trekkers!
Is trekking Everest Base Camp as a Vegan Possible?
Doing the Everest Base Camp Trek as a vegan is 100% possible. The entire Himalayan region is situated in Nepal, meaning most of its occupants are either Hindu or Buddhist. These people eat predominantly vegetarian diets and well kitted with a range of noodle and curry dishes on the trek.
Is there vegan food available on the mountain?
Yes! Every menu has veggie meals and it’s actually recommended to stay as far away as possible from any meat or chicken due to the poor storage methods on the mountain. If you do travel with a carnivore, the tuna is ok as it comes from a tin.
As a vegan the only meal I struggled with on our way to Everest Base Camp was breakfast. We were on a budget friendly tour and although we got to choose our food from the menu, breakfasts weren’t very vegan friendly.
Breakfast comprised a range of omelette’s, eggs, oats and honey. No plant-based milk on the mountain either, so unless you’re happy eating a piece of toast with jam, not many options for vegans. I took 9 Trek energy bars, a bag of unsalted peanuts and raisins and peanut butter along with me on the trek, this worked perfectly as breakfast.
Lunch and dinner, not a problem – I lived on noodles, vegetable Chow Mein, Tomato soup, Sherpa vegetable stew and Dhal bat (a vegetable curry dish). Surprisingly you do get some western treats up on the mountain (at Namche bazaar I had a vegetable burger and chips.) However it’s always better to eat what the locals do when in a hurry.
At one tea house we stopped at for lunch, my father in law ordered a plate of chips – literally took them 1.5 hours to make it. This set back our trekking time as you can imagine so rather save that type of food for dinner. Another delicious dish available were the vegetable momos, (steamed veggie dumplings with a fab sauce) – delicious but one to save for dinner as they too take a while to make.
During the trek you probably not going to be drinking much alcohol, water is your best friend and there is also life-saving ginger tea! Not only is it good for health but great for coping with altitude. For vegan, just be sure to choose the ginger tea option, not the ginger and honey tea.
Can you wear vegan clothing?
Absolutely, no need for any animal products,
December does get very cold though so a good quality vegan sleeping bag is essential, as well as a thick inner liner and a really good jacket equivalent to 900 – 1000 down. (I only wore this in the tea house, at night before going to bed.)
If you are planning on renting though, you likely won’t find something that isn’t down, so best bring your own Jackets and sleeping bags to be certain.
As we went in December, I wore (during the day)
- • HeatTech Thick thermal pants
- • Hiking pants
- • Thick nylon hiking socks
- • Smaller inner socks
- • Small top
- • Thick thermal top
- • Waterproof tri climate jacket (mine had an outer waterproof layer and inner detachable fleece
- • Thick gloves
- • Thin gloves (like running gloves to act as inners)
- • Beanie
- • Scarf
- • I had a 25-liter backpack, so when I got too hot I de-layered and carried my excess clothing.
At night when I wore a big thick Jacket in the tea house, and when I climbed into my sleeping bag I slept in:
- • HeatTech Thick thermal pants
- • Long trousers over the thermals
- • Thick thermal top
- • Fleece
- • Beanie
- • Thermis with hot water
- • Very thick thermal socks
How much clothing must I bring?
You have a weight limit of 15 kg per person. This includes your walking poles, what you’re carrying on your person (i.e. in your backpack) as well as toiletries and medicine. You will wear the same stuff again and again.
Believe me, your hygiene is going to go out the window (I didn’t shower for a week) but it’s not that bad and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can adapt to these rougher conditions. Don’t worry about being squeaky clean as everyone will be as filthy as you.
I brought about 6 pairs of underwear, 4 small tops, 2 trekking pants, 3 thermal tops and 2 bottoms, 5 pairs of thin socks and 4 pairs of thick socks (plus one pair of really thick thermal socks for the night). I also brought along one pair of long trousers and a big thick jacket, 2 fleeces, a beanie, a hat, thick and thin gloves.
Everest base Camp for Vegans : Hygiene
I’m not going to lie this was the filthiest I have ever been. Across the 12-day hike, I showered once on the 2nd day, and on the last day. After Namche Bazaar, there weren’t many options to shower as most of the water had frozen in the pipes.
That said though, the thought of taking off your clothing after reaching a tea house when it’s that cold isn’t really appealing so I was quite happy to not shower.
Wet wipes become your best friend for the essentials, head, underarms and private bits, so bring these along. (I brought about 3 bags of antibacterial wipes.) I also brought dry shampoo which helped on occasion as it had a nice smell, but can be omitted.
A note on water:
Water is very precious in the mountain. The further up you go, the more you pay. At Gorak Shep a bottle of water costs roughly $4 at the time of this writing. Even boiled water has to be paid for (albeit slightly cheaper than bottled.) It recommended to still purify the boiled water, although I drank it without any purification and I was fine.
There is cold ‘tap’ water available, but it needs to be purified before you drink it. I really don’t like chlorine pills so I opted to purchase a more expensive water to go bottle. This was a great concept, except it was so cold the filter froze about 3,500 meters up - so that didn’t work.
What random essentials might I need for Everest Base Camp In December
My hands down essential list for any vegan looking to do Everest base camp in December.
- • Wet wipes
- • Thermos – doubles as a hot water bottle at night, and then you drink the water the next day.
- • On the go vegan breakfast foods
- • Pack of cards for the night time
- • Hiking poles
- • Torch
- • Medical supplies, plasters, antibacterial cream
- • Diamox (Altitude pills)
- • Hand and feet warmers, lovely for night time in your sleeping bag. They worked, sort of, in the mornings but the temperature was so icy they lost their heat within 30 mins.
- • Camera batteries, contact lens solution and anything you don’t want to freeze – put in your sleeping bag at night and sleep with.
- • Bring a book if you like –though I didn’t read much. After dinner, a bit of cards and chatter – I was so tired it was straight to bed for me and the rest of my team.
Altitude Sickness At Everest Base Camp
Altitude sickness can affect anyone, no matter if you’re a vegan, carnivore or the fittest person in the room. It’s very dangerous and you can die from it. So having said that, it’s important to know the symptoms:
- • Lack of appetite
- • Lethargy
- • Nausea
- • Vomiting
- • Headache at the back of your head (not in the front) – this is one of the biggest signals
Some of these symptoms will happen anyway, but watch out for nausea, vomiting and most importantly, the headache.
If you feel the onset of Altitude sickness, descend the mountain immediately.
Is it worth it?
Never in my life have I don’t something as challenging as hiking hour on hour each day for two weeks, being cold, tired, sore and completely exhausted each night. But don’t get me wrong, Everest Base camp In December is absolutely, 100% completely worth it.
Don’t be put off by the cold and discomfort, this trek is a once in a lifetime experience, in the most ridiculously beautiful part of the world you will ever see. The striking beauty of the environment, the massive amount of respect you’ll have for the mountains thereafter and the complete exhilaration of making it to EBC cannot be understood in any way other than by experiencing it for yourself. This is a trip you won’t forget, and the pleasant memories you’ll gain from it will remain with you for the rest of your life.