My only summit photo (my phone died from the cold immediately after this photo was taken)

My only summit photo (my phone died from the cold immediately after this photo was taken)

The following is an itinerary of my Everest climb via Tibet.

I flew out to Kathmandu on April 7, 2018 and returned to Kathmandu on May 22, 2018. I summited on May 18, 2018 at 7:30 am (Tibet time).

My expedition style was unguided by a Western guide, supported by a Sherpa. I had complete freedom as to how I wanted to structure my itinerary.

Your approach might be different.

Graphical representation of my itinerary

Day Trip Elevation (ft.)
*all time is in Tibetan timezone
2 weeks prior to Kathmandu Granby, CO, USA 8,500
For 2 weeks prior to departing to Kathmandu I trained in Granby, CO, USA at about 8,500 ft. I climbed to 13,000 ft. twice, spending about 6 hours at that elevation. The remainder of my training was cardio and strength training outside and at the gym.
Day 1 - 4 Fly to Kathmandu 4,593
Nepali visa is bought in Kathmandu airport when you land. My transportation to hotel and accomodation was arranged by my logistical operator (LO). I stayed in Thamel.
LO was also responsible for attaining my Chinese visa.
I met my sherpa for the first time. Try and develop a strong relationship with your sherpa as your success will depend on it.
Day 5 Drive to Syprubeshi 4,790
LO provided transportation to basecamp. One day drive from Kathmandu to Syprubeshi. Since my team consisted of myself and my sherpa we were made a part of a bigger group for transportation purposes.
Expect many bag checks by Nepali officers on the way to border.
Day 6 Kerung Border 6,526
Four hour drive from Syprubeshi to Kerung Border. FYI it’s a dirt road barely wide enough to fit 1.5 vehicles from Kathmandu to the Chinese border (Kerung Border). When you arrive at the border in your Nepali car you leave it on the Nepal side and cross the border on foot. Your large duffel bags are most likely crossing the border on a seperate truck.
When going through customs at the border your bags will be thoroughly checked, especially your literature and all of your pictures on your picture taking devices (clean your picture library before entering Tibet. They’re looking for Tibetan sympathising and pornographic content).
You will be provided with a Chinese Mountaineering Association/Tibetan Mountaineering Association (CMA/TMA) sanctioned hotel and city guide. As you are a foreigner you are not allowed to be in some cities in Tibet without supervision. This guide accompanies you to basecamp.
Day 7 Kerung 10,499
One night stay in Kerung. Hotel and restaurant is determined by CMA/TMA.
Day 8 - 10 Tingri 14,268
Drive from Kerung to Tingri. Once again, hotel and restaurant is determined by CMA/TMA. I would recommend asking your LO if you can go through New Tingri instead of Tingri, it’s a much nicer experience.
Once in Tingri you spend 3 days hiking nearby peaks gaining about 1,500 ft. of elevation. This is also when you get to meet many other climbers going to nearby peaks (Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Everest)
Day 11 - 16 Base Camp (BC) 17,000
Arrive to base camp. Chinese visa and passport will be taken by CMA/TMA and left in their office at BC.
Spend the next 5 days acclimatizing by hiking nearby trails and resting in preparation for actual acclimatization runs up Everest. Determine your itinerary (e.g. how many acclimatization runs you want to complete before summit bid), determine which gear you will be bringing to ABC and then summit bid and pack it for yaks to take up. Try and keep your pack as light as possible.
Day 17 Middle Camp (MC) 20,300
Your first hike up above BC. For the first acclimatization run you will stop at Middle Camp for one night before proceeding to Advanced Base Camp. The trip will take 3-6 hours. This section is a gradual incline. All rock. Sherpa will accompany.
MC is also where the yaks spend the night. The camp has a lot of yak feces around the tents. Bring ear plugs as the bells around the yaks’ necks make noise all night. Sherpa accompanied.
Day 18 - 19 Advanced Base Camp (ABC) 21,300
From middle camp you continue your trek to ABC. The trip will take 4-6 hours. All rock. This section is hilly with a lot of minor elevation gain and loss. Sherpa accompanied.
Day 20 Camp 1 (North Col)/ABC 23,000
First acclimatization climb to Camp 1. I touched it and then came down to ABC. On the way to Camp 1 you will have an opportunity to stop at Crampon Point. Crampon Point has locked blue barrels at the base of the hill where you can leave your hardware (e.g. crampons, harness) for next time so you don’t have to carry it up and down. Ask your sherpa/surdar if you have a dedicated locked barrel for your team. Beware, sometimes your hardware can get taken by someone on accident or on purpose if their gear is faulty and they are desperate.
This is a great opportunity to carry a few items that you will need for summit bid up to Camp 1 (e.g. sleeping pad, summit mittens, snacks, etc.). No supplemental oxygen is used for this climb. Sherpa accompanied.
Day 21 - 26 BC 17,000
After touching Camp 1 you come down to BC to rest. You will be very excited to be back “home”. This is the time to rest and maybe do 2 simple hikes to higher elevation nearby. Nothing too strenuous.
This is a good time to maybe make changes to your gear to ensure your next acclimatization run is even more comfortable (e.g. I used running shoes instead of hiking boots for my second trek as I got very large blisters on my heels from the first run).
As you’re resting this is when your sherpa is doing runs up the mountain leaving caches of oxygen bottles and other gear.
Day 27 -28 ABC 21,300
Second acclimatization run. This time you will skip MC and go straight to ABC. The trip will take 7-10 hours. It’s hard and long, bring lots of audio material. After this long day you will take a day of rest before going up to Camp 1. Not accompanied by sherpa.
Day 29 Camp 1 (North Col) 23,000
Second run to Camp 1. Opportunity to bring a few more items to Camp 1 for summit bid. This time you will sleep one night with no supplemental oxygen. You can also opt to just touch it and return to ABC again, depends on your abilities. Sherpa accompanied.
Day 30 ABC 21,300
Return to ABC from Camp 1 and rest.
Day 31 BC 17,000
Descend to BC. Contact CMA/TMA to arrange transportation ($175) and accomodation ($50/night) in New Tingri.
Day 32 - 35 New Tingri 14,500
Drive to New Tingri (5 hours). You will pick up your Chinese visa and passport at CMA/TMA office at BC. You need this identification to be allowed to cross checkpoints. When in New Tingri you will be accompanied by a guide since you’re a foreigner.
We spent 3 nights in Qomolangma or Everest Hotel eating real food and bathing in hot water!
Day 36 BC 17,000
When the ropes have been fixed to the summit and the weather window becomes apparent you return to BC and await your summit bid. Finalize your summit strategy and prepare to go up.
Force yourself to eat as much as possible on summit bid. It will be hard.
Day 37 - 38 ABC 21,300
Trek to ABC, skipping middle camp. Important to keep your load as alight as possible. At this point you want to save as much of your energy for the summit as possible. You have already lost a lot of muscle mass by this point. Rest at ABC for one day before proceeding to Camp1.
Day 39 Camp 1 (North Col) 23,000
Summit bid to Camp 1. When you arrive you will immediately put oxygen on as your sherpa and you prepare water and food. Eat and drink as much as possible. I had 6 4L oxygen bottles, my sherpa had 4.
You will sleep with supplemental oxygen. It will not be comfortable but you will feel energized the next morning. Wake up at 7 am to leave to Camp 2 by 9 am.
This is the first time you will put on your full gear (summit suit, oxygen mask with tank, summit boots, harness, etc.).
Day 40 Camp 2 24,750
Climb to Camp 2 is 8 hours. It’s a frustrating climb as you see the camp the whole time but it doesn’t get close fast. Tents are placed on small rock ledges. Very little room to move around the tent or go to the bathroom safely. Sherpa will go get oxygen tanks from where he left them when he cached.
Wake up at 7 am and depart by 9 am next morning.
Day 41 Camp 3 27,390
Climb to Camp 3 takes 6 hours. Once you get to camp you will setup your tent. Sherpa will go get oxygen tanks from where he left them when he cached. Make water and food and try and consume as much as possible.
Review your summit strategy. Prepare and finalize your gear and bag. Check weather report. Go to sleep in summit suit. We only brought one sleeping bag with us to lay on the ground under us in the tent.
Day 42 Summit 29,035
Summit bid start time was 11 pm. I made sure that we began the climb before large groups. We summited at 7:30 am. We dropped used oxygen tanks off at Mushroom point on the way up and opened new tanks to get to summit. All tanks left at Mushroom rock were picked up and carried down. Invest into a very bright headlamp and bring extra batteries. I lined my summit mittens with charcoal heating pads and they stayed lukewarm all night; it helped.
I tipped my sherpa $1,500, if we wouldn’t have summited he would have been tipped $500.
Day 43 ABC 21,300
I returned to ABC at 7 pm. You should get down to at least Camp 1 to conclude your summit bid. Staying at Camp 2 is possible but very dangerous and should only be done in an emergency. If you have the strength, get down to ABC, you will have a much more pleasant night.
Day 44 - 45 BC 17,000
Pack up all of your belongings at ABC for yaks to take down. Take down items you will need at BC for a couple of days and things you will need in Kathmandu. The rest will be brought to you later by yaks.
We spent 2 days at BC waiting for our transportation to Kathmandu to be arranged.
Day 46 Kathmandu 4,593
Trip to Kathmandu took 15 hours. It was very difficult. In retrospect we should have stayed at the hotel in Kerung for one night. We stayed in Kathmandu for 4 days waiting for our bags to arrive from BC.