Everest Trail Race 2022 Summary

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The Everest Trail Race (ETR) finally was all systems go after an extended break due to the Coronavirus situation. Needless to say, the return was welcome, not only by ETR staff but all the runner’s, many who had postponed entries for 12 or even 24-months.

Nepal is a magical place and to be back in the magic was special.

ETR organisation had not been dormant between 2020 and 2022, the opposite. With the ever expansio of gravel roads leading toward Lukla, it was important to return ETR to more isolated and raw trails, so, in comparison to pre-2020, the 2022 race would be a new experience, particularly over stages one to four with stages five and six remaining roughly the same to 2019.

Camp 1 at Dhap ©iancorless

THE RACE

  • Stage 1 : 23.08km with 1551m+/ 1012m-
  • Stage 2 : 30.30km with 2365m+/ 3115m-
  • Stage 3 : 28.23km with 2028m+/ 2799m-
  • Stage 4 : 27.40km with 2170m+/ 1515m-
  • Stage 5 : 31.80km with 2850m+/ 1650m-
  • Stage 6 : 29km with 1770m+/ 2802m-
Amazing views to start the race ©iancorless

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU

Travel is coordinated so all participants meet in Istanbul for an onward red-eye flight through the night to arrive in Kathmandu mid morning. During the Covid period, Kathamandu has not stood still either. There have been major improvements to the airport and what was a very painful arrival and immigration procedure is now considerably less painful if you have the relevant documents, photos and cash to pay for an entry visa.

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Airport welcome ©iancorless

Everyone is welcomed at the airport with a traditional garland and then it’s transfer time to the hotel which will be home for the next two days. For those who have not been to Kathmandu before, the driving is always somewhat of a shock. Organised chaos is the easiest way to explain it.

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Arrival at Hotel Shanker, a calm and hidden oasis in noise and craziness of Kathmandu is welcome. Everyone is greeted and then it’s straight into initial race admin before relaxation time after long travel.

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PRE-RACE

Monkey Temple ©iancorless

Day 1 morning is a group excursion to the Monkey Temple and Patan. The Monkey Temple for 2022 was considerably busier than other years due to timing of an important religious festival. It was rammed with people but that only added to the atmosphere.

A time to pray ©iancorless

Of course, it’s always an eye-opener to experience a place like this. No matter how many times you visit, there is always something new and of course, it’s a popular place for beggars who hope to monetise the charity of the visitors.

Nepal always provides a reality check ©iancorless

From the Monkey Temple to historical Patan. *Patan, also known as ‘Lalitpur’, the city of artisans, lies 5 km southeast of Kathmandu, and is home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé  and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of the old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. (*https://ntb.gov.np/patan).

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The buildings, the winding streets, the noise and colour – always special. But for many, the people are what is interesting… So many characters full of life, history and colour.

Local colour ©iancorless

After a morning of relaxation and sightseeing, late afternoon is taken up with pre-race admin checks, number collection, medical checks and onwards to the evenings welcome dinner and race briefing.

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TRAVEL TO CAMP 1

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Travel to camp 1 in Dhap is via bus and it’s a long and lengthy journey of 8 to 12-hours.

Of course regular stops break up the journey and there is an opportunity to see local colour and character on the way, one of the real benefits of travel via road in comparison to taking internal flights.

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Arrival at camp 1 eventually comes. Camp is set up in advance and the glow of lights and yellow tents suddenly makes the whole experience come to life. Now, the ETR finally begins and everyone spends a first night in a tent.

Camp 1 Dhap ©iancorless

THE RACE

Great views to start the race ©iancorless

STAGE 1

A first night under the stars and by Nepal standards in November, it was a relatively mild despite the layer of frost on all the tents and on the ground.

Participants were undecided if it had been cold or not, basically this came down to how good and warm their sleeping bags were. If a runner felt cold last night, the omens are not good for how well they will sleep in the coming days.

Warm sweet tea is a great way to start a day, especially while relaxing in a sleeping bag. But despite that luxury, breakfast called and the need to add layers and absorb calories for the day ahead was an immediate priority.

The sun came and with it warmth. The glow of head torches replaced, bags were packed and racing apparel was made ready.

Rationed water, gels and bars were provided and at the stroke of 0830 the runner’s departed for Stage 1 of the 2022 Everest Trail Race.

Local musicians at the start ©iancorless

At 23.08km with 1551m+/ 1012m- the day was expected to be completed quickly by the front-runners. Miguel Heras did not disappoint crossing the line at exactly 1100am, behind, the 2019 ETR Suman Kulung finished just a couple of minutes later with the 2018 ETR champion, Jordi Gamito, finishing 3rd off the pace.

Suman Kulung ©iancorless

Miguel explained how he had made a silly mistake immediately after Cp2 whilst eating at not concentrating, he missed a marker and went off course. The mistake cost him first place and many minutes… He chased, caught Suman, and still obtained victory; a great run. However, he did say, “There are 5-days to go, anything can happen!”

For the women, Silvina Perez ran a strong stage ahead of Nepali, Ang Furba Sherpa. Ester Alves from Portugal finished 3rd ahead of pre-race favourite, Caroline Turner, who summed her day up with a simple summary, “The altitude and the last climb kicked my ass!”

It was a successful day-1 with all participants completing the course before 1700hrs.

Silvina Perez ©iancorless

STAGE 2

It was a cold night at 3500m. The wind and cloud adding to the chilly temperatures. For those who have raced light, today is the day that they understand the importance of layers and a warm sleeping bag. A lack of sleep with a tired body is not pleasant, even warm tea and a hot breakfast could not lighten the mood of some. After day-1, based on finish times, ETR operates two starts for stage, 0700 and 0800, thus allowing slower competitors additional time to complete the stage.

A cold night ©iancorless

The day started with a 500m climb to the summit of Pikey Peak at 4041m. From here a twisting and technical descent to Jase Bhanjyang (3510m) and the Lamjura Pass towards Langate Peak and onward to Pungmuche and Thumptencholing. From 20.5km another climb to 24.5km, and then a tough finish with a long climb, descent and then a final short climb to the camp at Rinmo.

The climb to Pikey Peak ©iancorless

Everyone was unanimous, it was a seriously tough day and although we missed a peak due to landslide, it added distance, many recording between 34-36km.

Miguel Heras ©iancorless

The race at the front was intense and today, with so much altitude and added distance, Nepali Suman had the advantage over Miguel Hera, Jordi Gamito once again placing 3rd.

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa ©iancorless

For the women, it was a similar story with Nepali, Purwha Lhamu Sherpa having the advantage over Sivina Perez.

The impact of the day will no doubt be seen in stage 3, when the runners tackle 28.23km with 2028m+/ 2799m-

Many are already discussing the drop of over 2000m from 3855m at km7.5, to 1625m at km23. A tough day!

Himalayan Vista from Pikey Peak ©iancorless

STAGE 3

Nothing better than starting a 30km day with a 1200m climb to just under 4000m through forest trails. The downside, depending on viewpoint and preferences, was the 2700m of descent that followed via steep, technical, challenging and rocky trails. And then just when you think it’s all over, you finish the day with 500m of vert followed by another short decent to camp. It was a tough day!

Miguel Heras ©iancorless

The action started early with Miguel Heras and Sumun Kulung setting a harsh pace up the first climb, they were inseparable. Event the relentless descent could not break them. It was at the last checkpoint, with approximately 5km to go, 500m of vert, that Miguel put the hammer down and opened up an 11min gap over the Nepali. Quite incredible.

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Once again, Jordi Gamito, the 2018 ETR champion, seemed happy to settle for the third spot – the duo ahead are at the moment, untouchable.

Blai Llopis Aulet ©iancorless

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa certainly has settled in to women’s race and once again took victory. Ester Alves, equally has found her comfort on the Nepal trails and today relished the relentless downhill trails to finish second. Day 1 victor, Silvina Perez, finished third.

Ester Alves ©iancorless

Mood in the camp was positive after the stage, these trails are quiet and remote. It was only in the final 5km, the climb to Kharikola, that it was possible to see homes and locals working the fields.

STAGE 4

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KhariKola has been the stage 3 camp, day 4 start for many years. However, for 2022, the ETR no longer camped at the monastery but a little lower down in an isolated spot. Temperatures were mild for the night, just dipping below zero. So, runner’s were refreshed for the start of day 4 with a good nights sleep.

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Today is the day the race enters the main trekking routes as Lukla approaches and the end of the day, Phakding.

However, unlike previous years, a new route was developed to avoid the ongoing dirt road development that is impacting on this area greatly.

Miguel and Suman ©iancorless

A tough 1000m climb kicked off the day to Karila at 3080m and then technical rocky trails to the lowest point of the day, Surke at 2300m. From here, a climb to Chaurikara (2621m) a steep descent and then a steep climb to Segma at 2742m. The ETR is now on new trails on the opposite side of the river all the way to the Phakding finish.

Once again it was the Miguel and Suman show at the front, the duo running together, again at a relentless pace. With the longest and arguably the toughest day of the race tomorrow, they crossed the line together, just a 1-second apart, no doubt saving some reserves.

Jordi Gamito finished third, quite a long way behind the leading two, his overall position is safe and he is no doubt just running a smart race now.

Caroline Turner ©iancorless

The women’s race was different today, with all three women running extremely close together, separated by just minutes. Today, the glory went to Ester Alves who gets better with each day, In the final km’s, Silvina Perez caught a fading Purwha Lhamu Sherpa  to place second.

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STAGE 5

Stage 5, the highlight of the ETR. Today is the day the runners pass through Namche Bazaar and head up higher in the direction of the big peaks.

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With much of the day above 3800m, it’s a brute, but the compensation is the magnificent backdrop of Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and the stunning and iconic Ama Dablam.

Tyangboche ©iancorless

Starting in Phakding, it’s up, up and up to Namche and then onwards to Syangboche at 3760m. From here, a descent to Kumjung and then a climb to Mong La, 3973m. Phortse and a stunning single-track trail to Pangboche with amazing views is the cream on the Himalayan cake as the route travels at 4000m. Finally a descent to Debuche, 3741m, and then the climb to the finish at Tyangboche at 3875m.

Ama Dablam ©iancorless

The day held no surprises with Miguel and Suman running together and at tge line it was red-line effort from the Spaniard to take the stage win. Jordi Gamito once again placing third.

A tough day… ©iancorless

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa for the women took the stage with a truly gritty performance. With one ankle heavily taped and carrying an injury, she still managed a stellar performance, the altitude no doubt being an advantage. Ester Alves finished second, exhausted, expressing, “One of the hardest things I have ever done!’ Once again, Silvina Perez placed 3rd.

Depa ©iancorless

STAGE 6

Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam ©iancorless

The final stage back to Lukla. At 29km with 1770m+/ 2802m- it is by no means and easy day or chilled day and that was reflected in Miguel and Suman pushing hard all the way to the line finishing well under 3-hours and in course record for the stage. Miguel Heras was the 2022 ETR champion.

Miguel leading Suman with an iconic backdrop ©iancorless

For the rest of the participants, the day was one of victory, the finish line providing the completion of an epic journey. The top women and a group of others, decided to enjoy the day and they all finished together.

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Lukla provided an end to the 2022 ETR and the mood was high. For many, the experience had been a tough one. The altitude, climbing and descending providing a much harder and more challenging experience than other multi-day adventures.

“MDS is a walk in the park in comparison to the ETR. MDS may well be self-sufficient, but the terrain here is so much harder, add the altitude and cold nights, the challenge is considerably harder.”

One of the many bridges ©iancorless

Now attention turn to 2023 and the next edition of the ETR. It really is one of the ‘must-do’ races not only for the challenge but for the immersive beauty and experience that Nepal brings.

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Episode 200 – Seb Conrad and Jill Wheatley

Episode 200 of Talk Ultra has a chat with #phantamsm24h runner, Seb Conrad who joined Kilian Jornet on the track setting a great distance for 12-hours and an incredible time for 100-miles. We also chat in-depth with Jill Wheatley who’s life changed after a brain injury and loss of vision.


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INTERVIEW : SEB CONRAD

Camp 2 on Ama Dablam ©jillwheatley
Summit Ama Dablam ©jillwheatley

INTERVIEW : JILL WHEATLEY website link. to Mountains of my Mind HERE

 

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02:21:31

Episode 200

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Patan and The Monkey Temple

Today, the calm of the Monkey Temple and historical Patan. It’s a day of noise, colour and amazing people as the ETR runners relax and soak in the beauty of this magical area.

The Monkey Temple *’Swayambhunath’  is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

Patan *Lalitpur Metropolitan City is the third largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and Pokhara and it is located in the south-central part of Kathmandu Valley which is a new metropolitan city of Nepal. Lalitpur is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Each year I am constantly surprised and blown away by my experiences as I meet the locals in their environment, some I now have seen for several years on my trips to these magical places.

Tomorrow the runner’s leave early morning for camp 1 with a 0545 departure, the race starts the following day at 0900, Monday 11th November.

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Running Beyond Book HERE

The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Arrival in Kathmandu

Runners from all over the world arrived in Kathmandu today after a long-haul flight through the night via Istanbul.

The noise and chaos of Kathmandu assaulting the sleep deprived senses of the 2019 participants as they journeyed from the airport via bus to Hotel Shanker close to the popular area of Thamel.

Teardrop flags, the ETR finish arch and a welcome party of ETR crew and hotel staff now making the 9th edition of the Everest Trail Race all too real. Day one is a relaxed day allowing weary travellers to adjust to the time change.

Nerves, excitement, trepidation and anxiety were all present in varying degrees for the challenge ahead. Despite the ETR’s history, the 9th edition will be remembered for a new route. In the 2017 and 2018 editions of the race, it became apparent to the whole ETR team that the development of road networks from Jiri were beginning to impact on the true spirit of the ETR.

Race Director – Jordi Abad

Race Director, Jordi Abad, had looked at options to explore new trails and go back in time and create a more raw and unique experience as was found in the early editions of the ETR.

Now fully developed within the Solu Khumbu district. The 2019 ETR has four entirely new stages in rural, non-tourist areas. Stages 1-3 and stage 5 bringing a whole new experience of trails and views.

The 2019 ETR will truly be a unique experience harking back to the pioneering first edition.

 

The 4th stage remains entirely the same as in the previous editions, and the final stage will once again start in Tengboche and conclude in Lukla but using a different trail between Tengboche and Namche Bazaar.

The 9th edition will be 12 Km longer with an additional 500m of vertical gain. Importantly, the race starts at a higher elevation of 2800m, In previous editions, Jiri was at an altitude of 1800m, this increase of 1000m is a key and important change.

In summary, the 2019 edition of the ETR will be an incredible adventure for all involved. With a total distance of 170 km and a whopping 26,000 m of accumulated gain/ loss – 13,500m of positive / maximum elevation 4,104 m / minimum elevation 1,500 m.

Daily distances are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – 25km 3625m+/-
  • Stage 2 – 26km 3735m+/-
  • Stage 3 – 30km 5396 +/-
  • Stage 4 – 27.5km 4130m +/-
  • Stage 5 – 32km 4465m +/-
  • Stage 6 – 30km 4572m +/-

Daily reports and images will be reported here on this website.

It is anticipated that communication, particularly on stages 1 and 3 may very well be very sporadic, so, please be patient.

Race Website:  Global HEREUK HERE

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Running Beyond Book HERE

Breaking News! New route for the 2019 The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019

The ETR, The Elements Everest Trail Race, after 8 editions will explore new trails for the 2019 edition.

In 2017 and 2018, it became apparent to the whole ETR team that the development of road networks from Jiri were beginning to impact on the true spirit of the ETR. Some call it progress… But the road network, albeit dirt road, is slowly but surely reaching towards Lukla.

Race Director, Jordi Abad, for the past 3-years has looked at options to explore new trails and go back in time and create a more raw and unique experience as was found in the early editions of the ETR. This is not to say the more recent editions have been compromised, on the contrary, one only has to listen to the feedback form the racers. ETR gains universal acclaim from every competitor as being one of the most exhilarating and awe-inspiring journeys one can take by foot.

In 2019, the ETR may well almost appear to be a new race but rest assured, it goes back to the roots of Jordi’s initial vision and it will still offer a unique journey that covers some of the ground raced in past editions.

So, what is new?

The Everest Trail Race by The Elements is now fully developed within the Solu Khumbu district. In the previous editions the first stage was developed in the Dolakha district and it was not until the second stage that entered into the Solu Khumbu.

The ETR will return to the original inspiration to develop by the rural Khumbu, as far as possible away from the tourist circuits. The first 3 stages will meet this objective and will be developed by rural non-tourist areas. The same will happen in a part of the 5th stage.

These changes will also involve changes in a part of the rules, regarding the water supply in campsites and check points. The difficulties to acquire (buy) water or any other liquid during especially the first 3 stages, as well as, the starting at a higher elevation, make these changes necessary.

For past participants, there is a real incentive to return to the ETR with 70-75% of the race route on new and unexplored trails – 2019 will truly be a unique experience harking back to the first edition.

The 4th stage remains entirely the same as in the previous editions. A change in this sector in the current situation would compromise the safety of the runners due to orographical reasons and extremely dangerous paths.

The 2019 edition will be 12 Km longer with an additional 500m of vertical gain. Importantly, the race starts at a higher elevation of 2800m, therefore, some pre-acclimatisation in training would be advised. In previous editions, Jiri was at an altitude of 1800m, this increase of 1000m is a key and important change.

Adapting to altitude is a key element of the ETR and in 2019 approximately 40 km of the race will be runover 3,500 m altitude, of which approximately 23 km will be made between 3,800 and 4,100 m (19 km entirely in the 5th stage). This is a key difference and truly brings a more demanding Himalayan experience to the race.

Importantly, stage campsites are located below the maximum elevation reached during each day, this will facilitate recovery.

As in 2018, participants will continue to be geolocated, even taking into account the limitations of the system in the Himalayas.

In summary, the 2019 edition of the ETR will be an incredible adventure and one that will be talked about in years to come. With a total distance of 170 km and a whopping 26,000 m of accumulated gain – 13,500 m of positive / maximum elevation 4,104 m / minimum elevation 1,500 m.

Daily distances are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – 25km 3625m+/-
  • Stage 2 – 26km 3735m+/-
  • Stage 3 – 30km 5396 +/-
  • Stage 4 – 27.5km 4130m +/-
  • Stage 5 – 32km 4465m +/-
  • Stage 6 – 30km 4572m +/-

Interested in joining the most awe-inspiring multi-day race in 2019, go to the website HERE

Nepal Trek – Three High Passes in Images – Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La to include Kala Patthar / EBC

“Coming back to Earth from the high peaks you can feel like a stranger. Bearing experiences that are beyond expression… And beyond price!”- taken from MOUNTAIN the movie

Just a few day’s have passed since I returned from Lukla, back to Kathmandu. My Nepal trek suddenly feels like a distant dream. As I have slowly worked through my images, I have found it difficult to grasp and come to terms with the journey undertaken.

I cannot find the words… I hope they will come? For now though, I have to let the images tell the story. I need to absorb the process and let my emotions come to terms with a dream fulfilled. Needless to say, this trek was beyond expectations.

What I can write, are the facts.

My plan was to undertake the Three High Passes – Renjo La (5360m), Cho La (5420m) and Kongma La (5545m) in the harder clockwise direction with the addition of a diversion to Gorak Shep to go to Kala Patthar (5545m) and Everest Base Camp (5364m). Finally, I would conclude the trip with Ama Dablam Base Camp (4800m) before returning to Namche Bazaar and onward to Lukla.

Typically, the Three High Pass trek takes 21+ days without including Kala Patthar, EBC or Ama Dablam.

I took one day from Lukla to Namche and on my return, I took another single day to return from Namche to Lukla.

I had one day in Namche for acclimation.

I completed the High Pass Trek with additions in 7-days – I am truly thankful to Sherpa Kaji for his incredible guidance and experience on the trails! Pasang Sherpa for his knowledge and continuing support with all logistics.

You can view my GPS inReach track

My itinerary was as follows:

  • Day 1 – flight to Lukla, trek to Namche.
  • Day 2 – Namche acclimate day.
  • Day 3 – Namche to Lumde
  • Day 4 – Lumde to Gokyo via Renjo La Pass
  • Day 5 – Gokyo to Dzongla via Cho La Pass
  • Day 6 – Dzongla to Gorak Shep and an out and back to Kala Patthar
  • Day 7 – Gorak Shep to EBC and and back and then onward to Lobuche
  • Day 8 – Lobuche to Pangboche via Kongma La Pass
  • Day 9 – Pangboche to Ama Dablam Base Camp and back and then onward to Namche
  • Day 10 – Namche to Lukla

Total distance covered was 173.74km

For now, a visual story – the words and detail will follow. If you would like to read about my equipment and planning, please go HERE.

If I may suggest, please listen to Violin concerto in D major: OP61: II Larghetto – by Beethoven on Spotify here or YouTube here.

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Equipment for Fastpacking in Nepal – A Guide

Having just returned from Nepal, I have once again had many questions from runners, hikers and enthusiasts on the equipment I used during the Everest Trail Race.

I would normally say, read ‘this’ post and send a link. However, over 7-years of going to Nepal and the Himalayas, I have constantly tweaked and changed equipment. In 2018 I made some significant changes. So, I have something to write about.

The Everest Trail Race is a 6-day multi-day running race. Runners aim to cover 160km over 6-stages with extremely varied terrain, huge altitude gain and descent and of course, they have altitude to deal with. They must carry all they need for the race. However, a tent is provided which they share, food is provided, and water is rationed and provided at specific checkpoints. The race is the ultimate fast packing exercise as runners obviously try to be as light as possible without compromising warmth and comfort. The race takes place in November, the prime trekking season in Nepal – days are usually sunny and warm and the nights are cold. At certain places on the route, nights can be very cold.

My equipment requirements are not too dissimilar to that of the runners as I to need to move over the trail as fast and light as possible. However, I also need to carry camera equipment. This is significant and adds KG’s instantly.

I have also learnt over the years that I do not like being cold.

In my first Nepal experience I went light (too light) and I was cold. A little extra weight with warmth and comfort is worth it, for me! But here in, this is where the challenge comes and actually, this is part of the fun of fastpacking and in particular, fastpacking in Nepal when the variables can be so great.

This is even more poignant now as I am planning to return to Nepal in a few weeks on a much longer and harder trek than the ETR and when temperatures will be considerably colder, especially at night.

One thing is for sure. You go trekking in Nepal and you will rarely change clothes and a shower/ wash will be a rarity. Accept it! Everyone will be the same so embrace this as part of the challenge. There are ways of dealing with this and I like to think of my clothing as day and night. During the day, I am wearing run clothing, and, in the evening, I am wearing more mountain specific clothing.

I am not the fastest on the trails, but I move considerably faster than nearly all the trekkers. So, I look more like a runner when trekking than a trekker. For example, trekkers will wear boots, trousers, and a shirt. I use run shoes, run tights and a run top.

It is also important to consider individual needs and individual strengths when looking at equipment and weight. For example, a 5ft woman weighing 50kg is going to have a very different set of abilities to a 6ft 85kg man. Keep this in mind!

My equipment list below is specific to me and my needs, but it does provide an excellent start point.

Disclaimer: No equipment or apparel was supplied by RAB, Osprey or Montane. They were all purchased items. The apparel by inov-8 was supplied and the Trail Talon 290 shoes were purchased by myself.

Sherpas and Porters are able to carry huge loads and weight…

PACK

I have used many packs over the years. The runners tend to use the Ultimate Direction Fastpack which is generally a great option. Other variants come from Raidlight, Salomon and so on. Typically, a capacity of 20-30L would be required.

I need to use a larger pack as I carry more, especially with the cameras.

For 2018 I used the OSPREY EXOS 38 which really was excellent. It had great comfort, flexibility and many features that made it a pleasure to use.

My other favourite packs, and to be honest, when I return in December, I will either use the Montane Ultra Tour 40 or 55 depending on my equipment needs? Both these packs are minimalist, light and very comfortable.

WARMTH WHEN SLEEPING

I have already said I like to be warm and layering is absolutely key to regulating temperature. Especially at night.

I do not take the warmest and biggest sleeping bag. The reason being I like to have flexibility. Such I have an unusually mild night, I still want to use my sleeping bag and not be too warm. However, if it’s cold – really cold – how do I get warm? Well, I have three options:

  1. Sleeping bag on its own
  2. Merino base top and bottom and sleeping bag
  3. Merino base top and bottom, down pants, down jacket and sleeping bag

I also have down socks that I would wear over merino wool socks. So, as you can see, I regulate temperature in a very controlled way. In addition, the above I can also wear gloves, a hat and a neck roll. Just wearing a hat really helps retain heat.

Layering is key!

Sleeping bag is a RAB INFINITY 500

Merino top is a RAB 120 long sleeve

Merino Bottoms are a RAB 120 pant