Everest South Frequently Asked Questions
This information should answer many of your initial questions and also guide you through the next stages of preparing for the expedition. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: email@example.com
About Climbing Mt. Everest with IMG
Why should I climb Mt. Everest with IMG?
We know we're not the cheapest deal around, and we don't want to be. We spend more providing the best personnel, equipment, logistics and safety measures things that many lower-cost programs cannot afford and do not have. We don't cut corners. As you shop around, consider the following:
- IMG leaders are professionals and are great teachers as well as strong climbers. All have done numerous high-altitude expeditions, including the Himalaya. Our clients enjoy the immense benefit of a core group that has climbed together extensively, producing a team that knows how to work well together. We do not think you will find any other Everest climbing or trekking programs that will be led or staffed by persons of the caliber we will field for Everest 2021.
- IMG complies with all local, state, federal, and international regulations for the countries in which we climb. This includes proper visas and climbing permits, full insurance and equipment for our employees and support teams, and complete adherence to all environmental regulations. Our great safety record allows us to operate with full liability insurance. All client funds are deposited in a regulated trust account. We take our business seriously!
- IMG Local Guides are top-notch. We hire the same great Team every year, we treat them with respect, we pay them well and they like working with our teams. Most of them have been on many climbs with us over the years and many of them have multiple Everest summits. Our enthusiastic cooks do a great job and our menus are well considered. It makes a difference!
- IMG trek itineraries are longer than most others offered on the market. We know how to acclimatize properly, and we don't rush. Unlike most other teams, we actually take our trekkers to Base Camp and invite them to stay there for several days as members of an expedition team. If you want to trek to Everest Base Camp, go with a team that actually gives you a real chance to fully experience it!
- IMG Base Camp is fully stocked with double wall dining tents with carpets, top notch food (fresh food delivered weekly), propane heated showers, custom weather forecast, internet is available (price TBD). Solar power at Base Camp quietly supports our satellite communications, allowing us to maintain excellent emergency contact capabilities and keep friends and family informed of our progress during the long weeks away from home. IMG will post regular internet dispatches from all of our teams during Everest 2021. We have multiple generators for backup power on the inevitable snowy/cloudy days, and 110v power for charging your electrical devices.
How does IMG improve my safety and odds of success on Everest?
Much has changed since Eric Simonson first went to Everest back in 1982. Now you might have close to 1000 climbers and local guides on the mountain, so you will not be lonely! The negative side of this is that there are an increasing number of climbers on Mt. Everest that do not belong there, or who are poorly supported, so that if they have a problem, it might soon become your problem! To mitigate this, we do a number of things. For example, we want IMG climbers empowered with the freedom and flexibility to leave early and get ahead of slow climbers and slow groups. We want to have in place the manpower and logistics to split our team up if necessary, to beat the traffic jams.
If climbers need help, we want to have in place the support and logistics to be able to render assistance without negatively impacting our team members. If you want to climb with a large slow group, we suggest you seek another guide service. We have the logistics to support a variety of summit bid scenarios. Our goal is to provide great infrastructure, support, and flexibility to our climbers with a good, fun team.
We also send backup oxygen, masks, and regulators up high with the Guide Team for emergency. On summit bids, we have additional staff who will carry oxygen just up to the Balcony, and who will then descend back to the Col to wait in reserve in case of emergency up high. This is an important safety aspect: having climbers ready at the South Col to support climbers in trouble up high.
Who are your local, Nepalese guides?
Most IMG local guides are from Phortse and Pangboche. We have a great crew working for us, and many have been with IMG exclusively for over ten years. It is a tight-knit bunch, managed by Ang Jangbu, Phunuru and Ang Pasang. The senior guides (the ones we assign to climb with our climbers) have solid English language skills, first aid and rescue training, and tremendous 8000m experience. For 2021 we have over 50 Guides and cooks working for our customers the largest and strongest team on the hill!
What prerequisites are there for joining an IMG Everest Expedition?
If you are going to be a member of IMG Everest expedition, you need to be a solid climber. That means that you are in excellent physical condition with good technical skills and previous altitude experience. You need to be proficient with crampons, fixed rope, ascenders, rappelling, and have climbed previously to at least 20,000 ft / 6000m and demonstrated your ability to acclimatize normally. Over the course of the Everest expedition (starting with the Lobuche climb and on the acclimatization rotations), we expect you to demonstrate your skills and fitness in order to qualify for the summit bids. The single most important thing that you can do to increase your safety on Mt. Everest is to minimize the time that you spend on the dangerous parts of the climb. This includes the Icefall, on the Lhotse Face, and in the Death Zone (above 26,000ft/8000m).
What is the difference between Guided, Non-Guided, Western-guided, and Sherpa-guided?
These terms all become pretty confusing these days. The IMG Everest programs are ALL guided expeditions; they are NOT non-guided. Our IMG Everest goal is to meet the needs of our customers with programs that combine the best attributes of both local and western leadership at competitive prices. There are many different styles of guiding on Everest, and they are not the same. At the $49,000 price, we offer a 1:1 Nepalese guide assigned to climb with you and a supply of oxygen that enables you to climb at 3LPM on your summit rotation. For $64,000 we offer the oversight of two Nepalese guides along with extra oxygen that enables you to climb from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on 3 LPM and from the South Col to the summit on 4 LPM. For $118,000 you get 1:1 western guide and extra oxygen. Lots of choices depending on what you want, what you need, and what you want to spend! The Local Guides that work for IMG are some of the very best Everest climbers, period. In order to compare different styles of Everest programs you need to understand who is going to be actually climbing with you and what support will be available if there is a problem. These are fair questions to ask of any company, and you should be comfortable with the answers you receive.
What is IMG's strategy on Everest?
Our IMG guides and staff will work with you to decide on the best strategy for you. We have seen many times that this is not the same for all climbers. It depends on variables like people's health, fitness, acclimatization, aggressiveness, etc. For example, there is debate whether it is better to go up to C1 and then to C2 on your first rotation, or just to C1 and come back to BC. Some people do not like to stay at Camp 1 due to potential avalanche activity, so is it better to go all the way to Camp 2? How many nights should you stay at C2? Is it really necessary to sleep at C3 before summit bids and if so, how many nights? This kind of planning is not written in stone and will be affected by other factors such as your health, the weather, your fitness and how well you are acclimatizing, etc. For our IMG climbers, we offer considerable flexibility on the mountain to adapt your climb, especially down low.
We would expect for the team to break up into a couple different rotations as each climber finds the schedule that works best for themselves. Our IMG Everest climb is NOT a "free for all." You are a member of an expedition team and everything you do on the mountain must fit into the larger picture, especially when it comes to occupation of Camps 3 and 4. Up high it will be especially important that everyone work together and communicate clearly. With IMG, you will always be with a very experienced IMG guide team. With IMG, you'll always have other climbers and their guides in the immediate vicinity. You will also have additional IMG guides in position to respond in an emergency. The size and strength of our IMG team means we can offer a high level of support to you at all phases of the expedition.
What else might I want to know?
A few of IMG's past Everest summiters have put together information they feel would be helpful to anyone considering climbing Mount Everest:
Here is their advice from training to summit »
Climbing in Nepal with IMG
What is the trek in, acclimating and pre-climb training like?
Getting to Base Camp strong and healthy is super important. Our climbing and trek teams will use lodges ("tea houses") for the lower valley where they are of suitable quality, but above Pheriche we use tent camping so we can control our environment better. At Lobuche we camp in our beautiful Lobuche Peak Base Camp facility (with dining tent and cook staff) for several days of prime acclimatization hiking, and then go direct to Everest Base Camp from here (climb Kala Pattar too). Once we get to Base Camp we will do training on the ice seracs of the lower Khumbu Glacier to check climbers' equipment and review climbing and rescue techniques. Then, we are back down to Lobuche Peak, an attractive 20,000-foot climb just down the valley from Base Camp. Lobuche Peak is a perfect warm-up climb for further acclimatization, practice of climbing techniques, and a good chance to get to know everyone better. After Lobuche Peak, we return to Base Camp and get ready to head up Mt. Everest!
Most climbers will do two "acclimatization rotations" on Everest, prior to the summit bids. Camp 1 is commonly used on the first rotation only and is skipped on subsequent trips up the hill. The first trip up will go to C1 (19,500ft/5950m), then to C2 (21,000ft/6400m) for a couple nights, tag the Lhotse Face but not overnight at C3 (24,500ft/7470m), back to C2 for a night and finally back to BC. After a rest period the second rotation will return to C3, this time for an overnight stay at the camp. After the C3 overnight, we descend to BC to prepare for the summit bids.
To reiterate, each phase of the IMG Everest expedition is an opportunity to evaluate our team members. We do not send people up high for summit bids unless they can demonstrate the skills necessary to climb safely and take care of themselves so that they are an asset to the team.
What is leaving base camp like?
After the Trek and Climb, we plan the normal 3-day hike out from EBC back to Lukla with our guide team and porters for your duffels, so you travel with your luggage. For people who wish to trek out slower, they can leave EBC one day earlier and take 4 days. With the advent of more reliable helicopter service in Khumbu, some trekkers and climbers will choose to fly out (at their cost) by helicopter (to either Lukla or Kathmandu), or a combination (for example, trek to Pheriche and fly from there). The cost of the helicopter depends upon passenger load and whether the helicopter has to come from Kathmandu, or if it is already in the Khumbu area.
If you accelerate your trek out (for example, hike out fast in 2 days) the porters (with your duffel bags) may not be able to keep up with you. You may also get separated from your luggage if you fly out by helicopter (payload weight restrictions).
Please note that at the very end of the expedition, when many expedition teams are all leaving Base Camp at the same time (often complicated by poor weather as the monsoon approaches), the duffel bag situation can also become an issue (airlines will prioritize passengers over baggage on Lukla flights). We will get your duffel bags to Kathmandu by porter and flights as best as we can. If you depart Kathmandu for home before your duffel bags arrive back to Kathmandu, we can have them shipped home to you, but this will be at your cost.
What is IMG's strategy in the Khumbu Icefall?
When we head up the Icefall, we break up into teams. We want to minimize unnecessary stopping and waiting in this dangerous area, and we have found the smaller teams the best way to allow climbers to keep moving, so you are not waiting for slower climbers or slow groups. Each team is issued radios and a rescue rope (the Guides will carry the rope and radio). We have required check-in points along the route, and this is logged at BC. You are on an open frequency, so you know when the climbers ahead and below you have passed a check point. There are many climbers, from many teams, moving up and down in the Icefall, and it all gets confusing. You do not want to get stuck behind a big slow group! All climbers stay with guides who know the route well, allowing maximum flexibility in the Icefall to negotiate steep spots and move around large slow groups. We do not allow climbers to climb solo. Climbing the Icefall quickly and smoothly is the single most important thing you can do to minimize risk.
What are IMG's on-mountain camps like?
At Camp 1 and Camp 2 we have large kitchen/dining tents, gear storage tents (you can leave items here) and sleeping tents with closed cell pads (two persons per tent). Camp 1 is normally utilized on the first acclimatization rotation, but most climbers will skip it on the second time up, going straight through from BC to Camp 2. Generally, the guides will do all of the cooking/melting at Camp 1, 2, 3, and 4. At the South Col we keep a dedicated guide(s) there just to cook, melt, and monitor the radio during the climb.
How does IMG treat their local staff?
We take great pride in the long term relationships we have built with our local staff. They do a great job, we pay and tip them well, and they enjoy working for IMG. We make sure that the IMG porters have adequate clothing, equipment, shelter, sleeping arrangements, food, cooking equipment and water. Sick or injured porters are properly cared for. All loads are weighed to ensure that porters are carrying loads that don't exceed their physical ability or legal limits. Porters are paid a fair wage for their work and are paid tip money directly from the tip pool at the end of the expedition (no middleman taking a cut).
What is the policy on Leave No Trace?
IMG is committed to Leave No Trace. All human waste is properly disposed of and garbage is sorted into burnable and recyclables (taken back to Kathmandu). All gas cylinders are taken back to Nepal and recycled, and all oxygen cylinders are returned to the USA.
What if I want to leave early?
No problem, we will organize a porter for you, and you can hike back to Lukla. The porter will carry your duffel bags. We will provide a stipend to cover your lodges and meals on the hike out. Our staff at Lukla will meet you, arrange tickets, and assist you to make the flight to Kathmandu.
Travel and Insurance
How do I get there?
Air Travel International Mountain Guides has worked for many years with Ms. Pirjo Dehart and her staff at CTT Destinations to provide professional travel service for participants in our programs. We urge you to contact CTT Destinations: 800-909-6647 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What kind of insurance do I need?
REQUIRED rescue and medical insurance: We require that you be able to pay for your helicopter evacuation, in case you get sick or injured. For this reason, Travel Insurance is required for your program, recommendations are listed here. However, it's important to understand that you may be required to pay for this upfront, and then file a claim for reimbursement. Most insurance companies will require that you be hospitalized or evaluated by a doctor before they will agree to pay. In case your insurance company does not agree to pay upfront for your evacuation you must have available credit on your Visa or MasterCard. (NOTE: credit cards are charged an additional 4% service fee by helicopter companies). Trekkers must have $5,000 available credit and climbers must have $10,000 available credit (the average rescue from EBC runs about $5,000 but if you need to be airlifted from higher than EBC, it will be much more expensive).
When purchasing a Travel Insurance policy, Everest and Lhotse Climbers should extend your coverage to include contingency days through June 4 (last possible day of climbing is May 31st) in case you are delayed with your departure from Nepal and need to be covered for some event late in the expedition. C2 and C3 climbers should extend their coverage one week to cover contingency days. IMG recommends including coverage for travel days to/from your home.
For more insurance information please see: Trip Cancellation and Travel Insurance.
If you need assistance with the various insurance options, contact Becky Kjorvestad in the IMG Office: 360-569-2609 or email email@example.com.
What kind of visas do I need?
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the trip and have empty pages. Advanced visas are not required for entry into Nepal. We all take care of the necessary paperwork upon our arrival at the airport in Kathmandu. You will be charged approx. $50 for trekkers and $125 for climbers for the Nepal visa. You will also need a passport photo (2" x 2").
Money and Tips
How much money should I bring?
As soon as you get to Kathmandu you will need your visa fee ($50 for trekkers and $125 for climbers) and then at the hotel we will collect your Sherpa tip pool contribution (climbers=$500, Lobuche=$300, trekkers=$200).
In addition to the tip pool and visa, I'd suggest $500 more, plus a credit card. You are better to have extra cash money and not need it than to need it and not have it! For your cash, bring new style bills (with the big faces) including some $10's and $20's. You can get a limited number of rupees each day in Kathmandu at a cash machine with your credit card, but you won't get dollars. You can change cash money into rupees at the hotel, and there are numerous money changer shops nearby. NOTE: everybody checks your money for counterfeit and no one takes old bills (bring NEW style US bills, not old style). Merchants will often try to give you ripped bills (rupees) for change. Tell them you want an un-ripped ones, otherwise you'll never be able to spend them. You will probably want to change $100 into rupees (get small bills) to carry on the trek for stopping at the tea houses, shopping in Namche, etc. Climbers who choose to go down to Pheriche for rest and relaxation will need some additional money for this (estimate $35 per day). You will probably want another $100 for spending in Kathmandu for food and gifts. It is difficult to change money once the trek starts. Bring the rest of the money with you in case of emergency. If you have extra left over rupees at the end of the trip that are unspent, change them back before you leave Nepal, otherwise you will not be able to change them once you leave the country.
I prefer cash, but you will probably also want to bring a credit card too, but remember that you will likely get hit by your bank with 3% fees on foreign credit card purchases. If you plan to use your credit card you should call your bank and let them know you will be traveling abroad, otherwise using it might trigger a fraud alert on your account which results in your card getting turned off.
How does the tip pool work?
We will collect a tip pool in Kathmandu and ask the trekkers to please contribute $200, Lobuche/C2/C3 climbers $300, and Everest/Lhotse climbers $500. We will distribute the tip pool after the trip on behalf of the team as a thank you gift to the many unsung people that make the whole operation run smoothly: the porters, trek staff, cooks and helpers, hotel staff, Kathmandu staff, and others. You may also wish to provide additional tip to your local guide and IMG staff (figure 5% of your trip cost if you are looking for a generous number).
What's included in the expedition fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee:
Transfers between hotel and airport in Kathmandu, double occupancy room at hotel with breakfast in Kathmandu for stated itinerary at beginning of expedition, welcome dinner in Kathmandu for members traveling on published itinerary, flight to Lukla (Teams 1,2,& 3 by helicopter and Sherpa Trek by fixed wing), Lukla Kathmandu flight by fixed wing, all group equipment, all meals once trip starts (since appetites are sensitive at high altitude, we suggest climbers bring some favorite high altitude snacks which they like to eat), Park and Municipality fees, climbing permit fees, liaison officers, guides, camp staff, radio communications, 110v power supply at Base Camp for charging electronics (solar and generator backup), yaks and porters, hyperbaric bag, pulse oximeter, emergency medical oxygen, unlimited medical consultation at the HRA EBC Medical clinic, and unlimited consultation with the IMG leaders. High speed internet is available at EBC (price TBD). Trekkers and climbers are provided with a foam trekking mattress for EBC. Everest, Lhotse, C2, C3, climbers will be provided a single tent at Base Camp (Trekkers and Lobuche Climbers will have double occupancy accommodations at EBC).
For summit climbers, also included are
Climbing guides will establish the route and camps, carry both team gear and some of your personal member gear (for example your second sleeping bag, down suit, and high altitude gear can be sent up to C2 with IMG Staff members). Each 2-person team (you and your Nepal guide) will be provided a handheld radio. Everest climbers will be provided 7200 liters of climbing oxygen as follows: 1800L at C3, 3600L at Col, 1800L at Balcony. This includes sleeping oxygen at Camp 3 and 4 on the summit bid and oxygen for practice at Base Camp prior to the summit bids. Additional oxygen and additional support are available but must be arranged before the expedition.
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee:
International round-trip air fare and travel expenses to/from Nepal/KTM, meals in Kathmandu not indicated above, hotels in Kathmandu after the trek/climb, single occupancy room upcharge, personal gear, excess baggage charges, airport taxes and Nepal entry visas, tip pool, internet, satellite phone, personal sundries and beverages, costs incurred as a result of delays or events beyond the control of IMG, required insurance and customary but optional tips for the IMG staff who climbs with you.
Gear, Oxygen, Food and Comms
What gear will I need?
The equipment list is meant to help you compile your personal gear for a high altitude climbing and trekking trip. Most items are required, while a few are optional. Please consider each item carefully and be sure you understand the function of each piece of equipment before you substitute or delete items from your duffle. Keep in mind that this list has been carefully compiled by Eric Simonson, the expedition organizer. Don't cut corners on the quality of your gear.
Avalanche Beacon: We require all Everest/Lhotse/C2/C3 climbers to use a beacon. If you would like to rent an avalanche beacon, we have them for $100 (issued at Everest Base Camp).
What food do I need to bring?
All meals on the climb and treks are included. You will be responsible for your bottled drinks and alcoholic beverages. You may want to bring powdered drink mixes for flavor in your water bottles. We recommend you bring a modest personal stash of your favorite trail and snack foods. For summit climbers, we recommend that you bring an additional two weeks of personal high altitude snacks (at least 10 pounds) that you know you will be able to eat up high when appetites wane and life is miserable. There is a grocery store in Kathmandu near the hotel which has many snack items available (candy, crackers, nuts, etc). Not available in Kathmandu are things like Power Bars, Gu, or electrolyte replacement drink mix.
What's the best way to pack for the trip?
We usually carry a daypack/rucksack as carry-on luggage and check two lockable bags. One of those bags can stay at the hotel while climbing for storage of your travel clothes (it is OK to leave a bag with wheels at the hotel). The other bag will be used by the porters to carry your gear on the climb, and it should NOT have wheels. It does not have to be 100% waterproof, just stout nylon fabric is fine. You will want to put everything in plastic bags anyway, inside the duffel.
We suggest that you use a travel wallet that you can hang around your neck and place inside your shirt. This is a safer way to carry your money and travel documents. Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home. Experienced travelers will also carry a couple of extra passport photos with them as well as a photocopy of the first pages of your passport. These should be carried in a place separate from your passport. Having these available will greatly facilitate the replacement of your passport if you lose it. Carry a pen with you for completing travel forms. Get to the airport early and make sure your luggage gets checked through to the correct destination.
How much personal gear will I be carrying on the mountain?
Generally speaking, you will only need to carry the items which you require during the day while climbing. The local staff will carry loads (including a reasonable amount of your personal gear) between the camps. When you are using oxygen, you will never carry more than one cylinder and regulator (16lbs/7.3kg).
Why do I need a second sleeping bag?
Everest and Lhotse climbers need to bring two sleeping bags, one for Base Camp and one for the higher camps. Our staff will assist you to move your sleeping bag between camps. We have warm down bags available for rent if you do not have a suitable one (please let us know well in advance if you want to rent a sleeping bag for $200, we will check availability). The deadline for reserving a sleeping bag is December 11, 2020.
What is IMG's approach to oxygen?
Our IMG cylinders hold 1800 liters which is enough for 10 hours @ 3 liters per minute (LPM). Each bottle and regulator weighs about 16lbs/7.3kg total. You will never carry more oxygen than this. We use the "Topout" and "Summit Oxygen" masks with carbon fiber composite cylinders the "state of the art." You can try different masks at EBC to see which is the best fit for your facial structure (we encourage men to shave, to provide a better fit for the mask). For the summit bid, we provide oxygen for sleeping at Camps 3 and 4 @ 1 LPM and climbing during the day @ 3LPM. This is considered quite a generous flow rate. Most climbers will use about 7200 liters total on the summit bid, from Camp 3 to the top and back to Camp 3, but we have more oxygen if necessary, for emergency.
For the climb to the summit you start with a full bottle at the Col and use about half of it on the way up to the Balcony (it is usually about a 5 hour climb to Balcony). You will switch to another full bottle at the Balcony and leave the half full bottle at Balcony for emergency back-up. Leaving the Balcony with a full bottle, you go to the summit and back to the Col (normally this is about 8 hours). With our system, you do not need to do a bottle change at the South Summit (there have been many cases of missing/lost/stolen bottles from there over the years).
We also send backup oxygen, masks, and regulators up high with the Guide Team for emergency. On summit bids, we have additional staff who will carry oxygen just up to the Balcony, and who will then descend back to the Col to wait in reserve in case of emergency up high. This is an important safety aspect having climbers ready at the South Col to support climbers in trouble up high.
What if I want to order more oxygen?
We can provide another cylinder delivered at the South Summit which enables climbing @ 4LPM on summit day. Cost is $6000 for 1800 liters; an extra cylinder on the Lhotse Face is $3000. We must know before the expedition; you cannot order on the spot! The deadline for ordering Extra Oxygen is December 11, 2020.
Is there a way to simulate what an oxygen mask will feel like?
The Topout and Summit masks are built on the 3M 6000 series half facepiece respirator body (you can Google that) and doing workouts at home with the 3M mask will simulate some of the issues using oxygen. For climbers familiar with scuba diving, remember the necessity to breathe easy and steady, don't pant just focus on moving the air efficiently. Check how the mask fits with your goggles.
How do my duffel bags get back to Kathmandu?
We will hire porters to carry your duffels back to Lukla, where they will be flown to Kathmandu.
What do I do with my passport and plane ticket while I am climbing?
We suggest that you leave these items with our staff in Kathmandu, so it is easy for them to change your tickets or extend your visa for you while you are climbing.
What communications will be available on the mountain?
We utilize VHF radios and satellite phones to maintain good comms, ensuring that IMG climbers and guides work very closely together as a team. Each team is issued a handheld radio. We constantly monitor the radio 24/7 anytime climbers are on the mountain, and we have required check-in places/times and logging of all transmissions.
What is the cell and internet coverage like?
There is cell phone coverage in Kathmandu and Khumbu all the way up to Everest Base Camp (with the exception of Pheriche) which will work with GSM enabled phones (spotty in some locations). You can purchase local sim cards in Kathmandu and scratch minutes which can be loaded onto the phone. Internet is available at most lodges with purchase of "Everest Link" scratch cards. At EBC there will be internet available (exact pricing TBD), or you can hike down to Gorak Shep and use the internet there.
Medical and In Case a Rescue is Necessary
What immunizations will I need?
- Tetanus/Diphtheria: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- Polio: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- MMR: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- Meningitis: Recommended. Consult your physician.
- Hepatitis A: Recommended. Consult your physician.
- Hepatitis B: Not a bad idea. Ask your physician.
- Cholera: Ask your physician. Not usually recommended any more.
- Typhoid: Not a bad idea to be safe. The tablet form, Vivotif Berna, is good for five years.
- Rabies: The new vaccine is easy. Kathmandu and Nepal have rabid animals.
- Malaria: No problem in Kathmandu, since we are above the zone of malaria, but if you plan on traveling to lower elevations in Nepal, or to certain parts of Thailand before/after the trip then malaria chemoprophylaxis is highly recommended.
We recommend that you visit the travel clinic at a major University Hospital or your local Public Health Department for the most up to date info on travel requirements, or check the Center for Disease Control Website at www.cdc.gov.
What if a rescue is necessary?
Our first priority is always going to be supporting our fellow IMG climbers. We are also willing to assist with other teams that need help with rescue, but this will take second priority to our IMG climbers. At and below Camp 2 the cost of a helicopter evacuation depends on the type of helicopter involved, the amount of flight time, and the number of landings. The Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopters now available in Nepal are very capable and very expensive.
We REQUIRE a rescue insurance policy. Most insurance companies will require that you be hospitalized and/or evaluated by a doctor in Kathmandu before they will agree to pay. In case your insurance company does not agree to pay upfront for your evacuation you must have available credit on your Visa or MasterCard. Trekkers must have $5,000 available credit, and climbers must have $10,000 available credit (the average rescue from EBC runs about $5,000, but if you need to be airlifted from higher than EBC, it will be much more expensive).
Credit cards are charged an additional 4% service fee by helicopter companies.
What service does the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) provide at Base Camp?
IMG is a longtime supporter of the work of Dr. Luanne Freer and the HRA staff at the Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic. IMG pays to subscribe all IMG climbers and sherpas to the clinic consultation service with the HRA docs at Everest Base Camp. Certain medications and services are also available for sale by the HRA at the clinic.
What other medical info should I consider?
While it's always nice to have a doctor as a participant on our trips, we cannot guarantee a doctor's presence. We ask that you carefully complete the Medical Information form included in the registration materials. We need to be informed of any allergies you may have, medicines you are currently taking and any medical conditions that could possibly effect your ability to safely participate on a climbing expedition.
In addition to the first aid items listed on the equipment list, there are a few additional medications that you should consider. These should be discussed with your personal physician and some will require a prescription. We want everyone to bring two regimens of the antibiotic azithromycin ("Z-Pak") and some Immodium in case of bad traveler's diarrhea. A sleeping medication can be useful for napping on the international flights and for the first few days in Nepal (due to the big time change). We do not recommend the automatic use of Diamox while climbing but you might find a small dose (125mg) useful if altitude sickness symptoms appear. Discuss this and your other medication requirements with your physician. Any medication should be used only if necessary and use should be discussed thoroughly with your physician and with your guide before you take the medication.
Water purification is also very important. An effective and inexpensive method is the use of iodine crystals or tablets. These are available commercially at mountaineering stores as a product called 'Polar Pure' or 'Potable Agua'. Filters, such as the ones made by MSR, are also good. Either can be used or both can be used in combination. On the trek our recommendation is to plan on treating your water bottle water with an iodine tablet (Potable Aqua) or other purification method. You can buy bottled water in Kathmandu, but we do not encourage you to buy bottled water on the trek since the bottles are garbage and constitute an environmental issue. If you want to buy boiled water at the lodges for your water bottles, you should bring some extra money. We also recommend that each participant bring a small bottle of a hand disinfectant such as Purell. Anything that we can do to stay healthy is worthwhile. Health issues will be discussed during the expedition and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions before or during the trip.
Do I really need to bring the high altitude medications Nifedipine and Dexamethasome?
Our IMG guides are very experienced with dealing with altitude illness, but we are not allowed to provide prescription drugs to our customers. For this reason we ask each climber to consult with their own physician and to bring their own emergency medications to use (while descending!) in case of onset of high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema symptoms. These include Nifedipine and Dexamethasome, which will help to "buy some time" to get down to a lower altitude. The Nifedipine is useful for pulmonary edema (take one 30mg sustained release tablet every twelve hours) and the Dexamethasome is useful for cerebral edema (take one 4mg tablet every 6 hours). Our suggestion is that climbers each bring a few tablets of each medication (2 tabs of Nifedipine and 4 tabs of Dex is plenty) and that should be sufficient to provide one day of treatment so the patient can get down, if they start to get sick. For more information see this recent article in WILDERNESS & ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE, 21, 146-155 (2010).