BlogDifficulty Level-Trekking in Nepal
16 May 2019 snowpath
Difficulty level of trekking in Nepal is generally divided to Easy, Moderate and Difficult (hard). Mostly considering an altitude, a trekker gains during the trekking. In addition, number of days, remoteness, terrain (uphill/downhill) are other factors to determine the difficulty level of trekking in Nepal. But let’s take different approach to categorize the difficulty level of trekking in Nepal. There are other factors (including our experiences), to conclude a trekking easy, moderate or hard beside only altitude.
Of course, previous experiences of trekker in Nepal can make the trekking easy moderate or difficult. Trekking to Everest base camp is easy/moderate to those trekkers who visit Nepal more frequently. While the same trekking can be difficult and hard for the first-time trekker. But not always is the case.It is hard to point out single factor on determining the difficulty level of trekking in Nepal.
Climbing or Descending which one is easier???
First, walking uphill or downhill does not determine the difficulty level of trekking in Nepal of any trekking itinerary. Some trekker finds easy walking uphill rather than walking downhill and vice versa. So, what is going on? A trekker is trying to defeat the gravity while walking uphill which of course needs more energy. In reverse, he/she is trying to resist/ absorb the gravity while going downhill, passing the energy to knee joint or other muscular parts of body which is painful. No solid conclusion, whether it is difficult to walk uphill or downhill. From our experience, in general, younger trekker finds easy to trek downhill while older trekker finds easy to walk uphill. The only way to get through it, is adjusting your style of trekking, in either terrain (uphill/ downhill).
Most of the trekker often need to trek steep downhill or uphill, especially in lower trekking region. Climbing to/descending from Namche Bazaar (Everest trekking), Climbing to/descending from Ulleri (Annapurna trekking), Climbing to/descending from Gatlang (Langtang trekking) are some example of steep climbing and descending. Though there are too many to name steep ascend and descend, most of the trekking itinerary are well-balanced for general trekkers. Trekker must be mentally prepared to such climbs and descends while trekking in Nepal.
Does remoteness make trekking harder???
Remote trekking in Nepal are all those trekking itineraries where there is lack of infrastructures. No feasible transportation, electricity, communication, luxury tea houses. A trekker must have sufficient information regarding such kind of remote trekking. Even popular trekking region has some isolated places. These places do not see more trekkers even during peak trekking season.
Consider, Kang-La pass (5320m) of Nar Phu valley trekking, and Thorong- La pass (5416m) both belongs to Annapurna trekking region. While Throng-La pass is moderate pass, Kang-La pass is difficult/ hard / strenuous. Crossing Mesokanto-La pass(5340m) after trekking to Tilicho lake has different story in same Annapurna trekking region. (More than hard/difficult for general trekkers ???). Comparatively, crossing Thorong-La pass(5416m) of Round Annapurna trekking after spending night at Thorong Phedi is easier than crossing Larkey-La from Dharmashala.
Altitude-Gain and Difficulty level
Altitude is the number one thing, most of the trekking agency consider before classifying the difficulty level of any trekking (Easy/Moderate/Difficult). This is true, especially considering the level of oxygen that changes with altitude. Roughly, sea level air has 20.9% of oxygen(1014mbar), while top of Everest has only 6.89%. of oxygen (337mbar). It means you need to breathe thrice in top of Everest to get same amount of oxygen you gain at sea level. Doubtless, level of oxygen in atmosphere can greatly affect human capacity and behaviour. And thus, has coined the well-known but unpopular word Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) among the trekkers.
Again, most of the trekking itinerary are well balanced considering the general trekkers. There is nothing hard and fast rule to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Even experienced trekker/ climber gets Acute mountain Sickness. So is one of the reasons many climbers might not summit Everest(8848m) on first attempt, beside weather. Inexperienced trekker can do Everest Base Camp trekking but might need to add few extra days (more than regular trekking itinerary days) to cope with the environment as acclimatization day. A trekker needs to pay extra attention in general trekking itinerary and needs to evaluate with own situation. Even Everest base camp and Annapurna base camp are not a match considering the difficulty level of trekking in Nepal.
Burning Calorie and Energy requirement.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), intensity of any physical activity depends upon Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks (METs). It is a ratio, which measures the amount of energy spent doing any physical activity. Sitting calm and doing nothing has the METs value of 1. In ideal situation, any physical activity in between Metabolic Equivalent Task of 3-6 are moderate physical activity. Dancing, house works, gardening, walking at speed of 3.5 mph are some moderate physical activities. METs value higher than 6 are vigorous physical activity. Running, fast swimming, jogging, carrying weight< 20 kgs, climbing uphill quickly are some high intensity physical activity.
However, the above METs value might be greatly different while trekking in Nepal. Altitude, temperature, environment, oxygen level can greatly affect those values. Health of particular trekker, body weight and trekking hour also can highly affect those findings. It is nearly impossible to provide exact METs value to each itinerary, since it requires extensive scientific study.
METs 7.0 for Everest Base camp trekking,
Trekker’s Body weight X METs value X Average walking hour in a day = Total energy required for a day during EBC Trekking
65kg X 7.0 X 6 hr = 2730 calories per day
Consider METs 6.0 for
Annapurna Base Camp trekking,
65kg X 6.0 X 6 hr = 2340 calories per day
Consider METs 6.5 for
Manaslu Round trekking,
65kg X 6.5 X 7hr = 2957 calories per day