The maximum elevation to the base camp will be 5,500 meters more or less, which is about 3,000 meters short of the start of the climb to the summit. It's that last 3,000 meters where you earn your stripes and I'll only ever see them in National Geographic.
My online sherpa guide tells me the trek will be "moderate to strenuous". If he were to factor in the five nights a week I flop my butt on the sofa for two hours of brain benumbing syndicated sitcoms, glass of red and a bag of bagel crisps by my side, he'd more accurately describe the trek as "extremely strenuous to what the fuck have I gotten myself into?"
I'm not too worried about the trek itself. It's just walking a lot really. Actually, it will be the flights between Kathmandu to Lukla, the staging area, I dread the most. You fly in one of these infernal prop jobs--
Whenever I board a single or twin engine prop plane (after the Valium, on top of the double gin and tonics) I do my best to convince myself that the pilot probably has a loving family that he hopes to see again soon, so even if he doesn't care about the human cargo he's hauling, he is looking out for number one, and he's made sure all the nuts and bolts are tight, there's plenty of fuel in the tank and the tail winds are in his favor.
Trek highlights not only include the views of course and dining on Sherpa cuisine, there will also be along the way a hot springs, Tarzan movie rope bridges, a day spent acclimatizing and convincing your body to get by with less oxygen in the provincial capital of Namche. There's supposed to be a bazaar there--which is bizarre because why would anyone want to add any extra weight to the burden you're already carrying? I'll probably pick up an "I've been there and you haven't" t-shirt.
It's also a place where I can check my Email and blog my last will and testament. I'll visit a monastery or two. And put rum in my hot chocolate if my toes start to go numb.
I probably won't take a camera. I'll go to Google images. A hill is a hill is a hill.
I hear one can also get roasted toasted on black tar temple balls if one so chooses, although from what I've read about altitude sickness, the effects are quite similar to a good buzz, so I might just turn in early each night, put some 13th Floor Elevators and Bubble Puppy on the Ipod playlist and set the clock for 5 to catch the sunrises over the peak.