Everest Base Camp: The History Behind the Trek


The trek to Everest base camp is one of the most popular and sought-after treks in the world. Located in the Khumbu region of Nepal, the trek takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, including soaring peaks, lush forests, and traditional Sherpa villages. But the history of the region and mountaineering in the area adds an extra layer of intrigue and significance to the journey.

The Khumbu region has been inhabited by the Sherpa people for centuries, who have adapted to the harsh environment and made their living through agriculture, trade, and mountaineering. The Sherpas are known for their resilience, hard work, and mountaineering skills, which have made them indispensable partners for climbers attempting to conquer the world's highest peak.

The history of mountaineering in the region dates back to the early 20th century, when the British launched a series of expeditions to explore the Himalayas and attempt to climb Everest. The first major expedition was led by George Mallory in 1921, who reached an altitude of 7,000 meters before turning back due to bad weather.

1924 Everest
Some Members of the 1924 Everest Expedition

Mallory returned to Everest in 1922, leading another expedition that aimed to reach the summit. However, the expedition was hit by tragedy when seven Sherpa porters were killed in an avalanche. Despite the setback, Mallory and his team continued their climb, but were forced to turn back just 200 meters from the summit due to high winds and harsh conditions.

Mallory returned to Everest in 1924, leading what would be his final expedition. He and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, set out for the summit on June 8, but never returned. Their fate remains a mystery to this day, and many mountaineers have since attempted to find their remains and solve the mystery of whether they reached the summit before their tragic end.

The first successful ascent of Everest was made in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa guide. Their climb marked a major achievement in mountaineering history, and opened up the region to a new era of exploration and adventure.

Tenzing and Hillary
Tenzing and Hillary

In more recent years, Everest has continued to draw climbers from all over the world.

Tragically, in 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The earthquake triggered avalanches on Everest that killed 18 people, including climbers and Sherpas. The disaster sparked debates about the safety and sustainability of mountaineering in the region, and led to calls for stricter regulations and oversight of expeditions.

Damaged homes in Kathmandu after the April mainshock
Damaged homes in Kathmandu after the April mainshock

Despite the challenges posed by the earthquake and overcrowding, Everest remains a symbol of human ambition and endurance. In 2017, 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan attempted to become the oldest person to climb the mountain, but passed away due to altitude sickness before he could reach the summit.

More recently, in 2019, Nirmal Purja, a former member of the British special forces, set a new record for climbing all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks in just six months and six days, smashing the previous record by more than seven years. Purja's remarkable feat brought renewed attention to the world of high-altitude mountaineering, and demonstrated the extraordinary physical and mental strength required to conquer some of the world's most challenging peaks.

In conclusion, the history of the Khumbu region and Everest base camp is a rich and complex tapestry that encompasses centuries of human ingenuity, exploration, and adventure. From the early expeditions of the 20th century to the modern-day achievements of climbers like Nirmal Purja, Everest has captured the imagination of people all over the world, inspiring them to push themselves to their limits and achieve the seemingly impossible. As we look towards the future, it is our responsibility to preserve this incredible legacy for generations to come, and to ensure that the spirit of adventure and exploration that has defined Everest and the Khumbu region for centuries continues to thrive in the years to come.