TREK RELIEF: EVEREST MEDICAL PROJECT

BULLETIN #1

Introductions, Giving Back, Transparent Expenses, and

What We Need from You

Dhanyabahd,

(Nepali for “thank you”)

Thank you for your interest in joining us on our compassionate adventure to Everest Base Camp, and welcome to the Trek Relief family! By joining us, you are making a beautiful impact on the lives of the people that we will be visiting. To start getting you excited about this trip, here are some details about what sets our program apart from others:

Introducing our team

We are partnered with a high-end Nepali trekking agency who is deeply appreciative of the work we are doing and has given us a special rate, enabling us to redirect funds toward our service projects. Our professional trip leaders have worked for prestigious companies such as National Geographic Adventure, Mountain Travel Sobek, Peregrine Adventures, World Expeditions, and Overseas Adventure Travel - so without a doubt, you will be well looked after! From serving wake up tea and coffee to carrying yoga mats on the trek, our team strives to provide the best experience for your philanthropic trip to the Himalayas.  Come to help communities at the roof of the world, equipped with the knowledge that you will be with the very best.

Compassionate travel

As travelers, we gain so much from visiting a new land… but why can’t the favor be returned? We believe in a two-way exchange, where our participants get to both give AND receive. With Trek Relief, you will experience what it is to Travel with Purpose.

  • Volunteer work

In the verdant foothills of the Solukhumbu region, Trek Relief has committed to providing medical relief and teaching English in the rural villages. Not only are we sharing our skills and professions with this underserved community, but we are also providing invaluable sponsorship for much-needed medical equipment, alleviating medicine shortages, and holding health camps. In a place that receives no outside help, Trek Relief volunteers shine bright.

  • Trail cleanup

As a way to give back to the Earth, our team picks up the occasional trash on the trail that we see as we go uphill. You are invited to join this optional activity, which also allows you to take breaks and gain elevation slowly while being stewards of the Earth.

  • Material donations

If you are looking for another way that you can help Nepal, we know of several causes to channel needed resources. Please let us know if you can bring any of these items. Or, if you have access to any resources not listed below that you’d like to donate, please let us know and we’d be happy to help you find a deserving recipient!

  • Medical supplies - anything that you can get! When asked, the local doctors said they were short on EVERYTHING. Medical instruments would be the most valuable contribution because medicine is generally cheaper in Nepal.

  • School supplies - the schools that we are teaching at are in need of educational posters, maps, and science teaching materials. English is fine. Notebooks and pens are always welcome.

  • Projector - it has been requested to be able to show public health education programs at the Salyan Primary Healthcare Center and for classroom lessons.

  • Children’s books and toys - we are in contact with an orphanage in Kathmandu that houses many children. Good condition, second hand items are fine. If it works within your schedule, we can arrange a visit for you to deliver these donations personally.

Transparent finances

Trek Relief operates on a lean and carefully planned budget where any and all revenue is reinvested back into the organization to enable our programs to be created, implemented, and run smoothly.

In order to be radically transparent, we have separated our program fee from our charitable contribution - so that you know exactly where and how your money is being spent!

For this program, each participant is contributing on average $945 toward enabling our medical project goals. This covers the sponsorship of needed medical equipment, supplies, our mobile health camps, and program organization and implementation.

$2055 covers the trip cost, which includes a helicopter that will deliver us from our remote project location to the start of the Everest Base Camp trek! In addition, our program provides 2 nights of accommodation in Kathmandu (before trek departure and upon return), free airport pickup arranged through our hotel, yoga class emphasizing high altitude breathing techniques, welcome and farewell dinner, land transport to our project location, 17 days of trekking and activities, our exemplary trekking guides and porters, food and accommodation in transit and on the trail, airfare from Lukla, private transport from the airport, trekking permits, Sagarmatha National Park entrance fee, and a duffel bag, sleeping bag and down jacket for personal use on the trail. Please feel free to bring your friends - on this service-oriented fundraising trip, the more the merrier!

Please note: each trip is unique and service expenses and fundraising distribution may fluctuate according to group size, circumstances, and current needs of the region.

What we need from you

Your trip is confirmed when we receive the following items from you:

  1. Completed Trek Relief Participant Information Form

  2. A clear picture of your passport details

  3. A clear picture of a 2X2 white passport photo

  4. Donate or fundraise a minimum of $3,000 for Trek Relief by the latest 2 weeks from departure

  5. Your plane ticket confirmation

  6. Medical credentials (if applicable)

The next couple bulletins will have all the information you need to get you geared up and prepared for your upcoming trip to Everest Base Camp with Trek Relief!

Meanwhile, please like us on Facebook to see our progress and updates - and thank you for sharing! https://ww.facebook.com/trekrelief


TREK RELIEF: EVEREST MEDICAL PROJECT

BULLETIN #2

Traveling in Nepal, What to Expect, and The Trail

Namaste,

(Nepali greeting, meaning “I bow to the divine in you”)

What does teahouse trekking in the Himalayas look like? In this detailed bulletin you’ll find information on travel logistics in Nepal, what to expect on a trip with Trek Relief, information regarding health and safety, trail descriptions, and tips on how to train for your trek!

AT A GLANCE

Trip Start: Thamel

Trip End: Bhaktapur

Destination: Everest Base Camp and Kalapatthar Peak

Max Altitude: 5545m

Everest main trail trekking distance (RT): 109km/68mi

Activity level per day: ~ 5-7 hrs walking

Trip Highlights

  • Lukla - The gateway to the Everest trek, and location of the “world’s most dangerous airport” and impressive Swiss-sponsored hospital.

  • Namche Bazaar - The region’s largest settlement has a government healthpost. Fill up here on your last taste of civilization with cafes, baked goods, and daily Everest-themed movie showings.

  • Tengboche Monastery - The famous Tengboche Monastery is Khumbu’s largest gompa, blessed with spectacular mountain views. The monastery has always been important to Everest expeditions; most of them, starting with the 1953 British ascent, are blessed by the gompa’s head lama. There are around 60 monks in residence at the monastery, which, like all Sherpa gompas, belongs to the unreformed Nyigma (Red Hat) sect.

  • Everest Base Camp - Get a close up view of Everest and the treacherous Khumbu icefall that climbers must pass. In April, May, September and October, EBC becomes alive with expedition outfitters and Everest hopefuls.

  • Kala Patthar - The world’s highest peak is barely 10km/6 miles from Kala Patthar - the 5,545m/18,180 ft rocky knoll with an unbelievable 360-degree panoramic view of skyscraping mountains and vast glaciers.

TRAVEL LOGISTICS

Nepal visa

Visa on arrival is available at the airport. A single entry visa for 15/30/90 days costs $25/40/100. You can use the automated kiosks when you exit the terminal. However, if the kiosks are not functioning you’ll need to provide a 2X2 photo to obtain your visa (bring one just in case).

Travel insurance

Please note that Trek Relief does not cover travel insurance for its participants. Though purchasing travel insurance it is not required to attend, it is highly suggested. Policies that cover high altitude trekking and helicopter evacuations are preferred. Bring a copy of your insurance policy with you and leave a copy with your designated emergency contact. This will speed up the claim process in the case of an emergency. If you choose to not to get insurance, you are responsible for paying out of pocket for any emergency expenses. We recommend Trawick International, which can cost anywhere from $7-40 to cover your entire trip: https://www.trawickinternational.com/

Getting in

If the skies are clear, you will see the great Himalayan range as your plane lands in Kathmandu. It normally takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Thamel, the main tourist center of Kathmandu. Airport pickup is arranged through our base at the International Guest House in Thamel - just send us your flight details! Our pre-trek briefing and high altitude yoga class is normally held in the lovely courtyard garden at 4pm the day before departure unless otherwise specified, followed by a welcome dinner.

We depart the hotel at 5AM the next day to take a jeep to Salyan, the region of our volunteer focus. It is a scenic 12-hour ride along the Sun Kosi river and into the mountains. If the sky is clear, soak in spectacular Himalayan views before zooming through endearing terraced countryside.

Money and tips

1 USD is around 100 Nepalese Rupees (NRS). ATMs and money changers can be found right outside the airport and every corner in Thamel. There will not be any opportunity to take out or exchange money on the trail. If you plan on buying souvenirs or beers on the trek, perhaps prepare $200 in leisure money to spend.

Trek Relief does not cover tips - this is up to your discretion. If you appreciate the services provided by our staff, please consider tipping them. As a guideline, the suggested amount per participant for the entire 18-day trip is $180, to be divided among the staff. Generally, the trip leader receives 30% of the total and will be collecting the tips on our last night in Lukla. Please prepare for this in Nepalese rupees before leaving Kathmandu.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Accommodation and showers

On the trek, you will be staying in Nepali teahouses. Lodging is clean, basic and generally double occupancy. Be prepared to use eastern squat toilets and for the possibility of no hot showers. If that is the case, our staff will be providing washing bins with warm water at the lodge.

Food

On treks in Nepal, it is customary to eat breakfast and dinner where you have your lodging. The staple diet of Nepal is dal bhaat, or lentils and rice with a side of vegetables. If you have any special dietary restrictions or allergies, please be sure to indicate them on our Trek Relief Participant Information Form. Though all food is covered on the trip, we encourage you to bring snacks and comfort foods from home for variety.

Drinking water

As a service to our guests, our staff will be providing safe, treated Himalayan water at the lodges. Remember to leave your bottles at the dining table to be refilled!

Electricity and internet

On the trail there will be limited opportunities to charge your batteries, and expect to pay up to $5 per charge in some lodges. Please come prepared by bringing a headlamp/flashlight, extra camera batteries and a backup battery bank.

*Tip: to extend battery life, keep your batteries in your pocket to prevent them from being drained when it’s cold out!

Cellphone service is surprisingly good in the prosperous Khumbu region, and if you pick up a NCell SIM card in Kathmandu with data (you’ll need a 2X2 photo and your passport to do so) you will be able to send and receive messages in all but the highest settlements.

Laundry

Laundry services are available in Kathmandu, but on the trail you will have limited opportunity to wash your clothes. In the lower elevations small items can be hand washed and dry easily, but above 2,500m it may be too cold. Some people prefer to bring plastic bags to separate clean from dirty clothes and wait to get back to Kathmandu.

Lukla flight delays

Even with confirmation, there is no guarantee we will fly back on schedule due to mountain weather conditions or technical problems. We have kept this in mind and allocated an extra day at the end into our itinerary as a safety buffer, though we cannot be held responsible in case of any missed flights out of Nepal. We highly recommend getting travel insurance.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Immunizations

There are no official immunization requirements to enter Nepal, but the following should be considered with the consultation of your doctor:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Meningitis

  • Cholera

  • Typhoid

  • Tetanus-Diphtheria

  • Polio

  • Measles, mumps and rubella

  • Japanese Encephalitis B

Extreme Altitude

You will be trekking amongst the tallest peaks in the world.  Acute mountain sickness (AMS), or altitude sickness, becomes a concern above 2,800m.  The symptoms are a headache, feeling breathless on exertion, loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty in sleeping, dry cough, and/or general fatigue.

Prevention

One drug currently known to prevent AMS is acetazolamide (diamox), which can be taken preventatively or as a treatment; start with 125 mg diamox every 12 hours, with a maximum dosage of 500 mg per day.  However, you should not use this medicine if you have cirrhosis, severe liver or kidney disease, an electrolyte imbalance, adrenal gland failure, or an allergy to acetazolamide or sulfa drugs.  It also causes some minor side effects, such as tingling fingers and a funny taste in the mouth.

Natural supplements to prepare the body’s cardiovascular oxygenation process are gingko biloba and chlorophyll, which should be taken (in the form of tablets or drops) consistently at least a couple of weeks prior to your arrival to high altitude.  Ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation and increases saturation in arterial oxygen, allowing the brain to tolerate lower oxygen levels. Chlorophyll increases the amount of red blood cells in your system; the more red blood cells there are, the more opportunities there are for oxygen to be absorbed.

Acclimatization

Because this is a high altitude trek, taking rest days to acclimatize along the way is important. The body must be allowed time to adapt to the thin air. Health experts recommend that you take short leisurely walks during acclimatization days, even if just climbing a few hundred feet, to help your body better adapt to the high altitude.

During the trek, go up slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude.  The body has an amazing ability to acclimatize to altitude, but it needs time. For instance, it takes about a week to adapt to an altitude of 5000m.

Treatment

The first thing you should do when you start feeling symptoms of AMS is to continuously drink lots of water.

If the symptoms go away, you should continue your trek. But if they persist or get worse, you must descend. The deciding factors for immediate descent are: inability to walk in a straight line and breathlessness even when at rest.


To learn more about AMS, visit: http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php

TREKKING CONDITIONS

Weather

We will be starting in pleasant, low elevation greenery and ascending high into a harsh land of glaciers and ice. Please be prepared for all conditions - hot, cold, wind, rain, snow, hail, and bright sun. Below is a chart detailing temperatures and rainfall in the higher and lower settlements.

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Trail description

The trail is mostly a steady climb from 2,800m to 5,545m, and the trail takes you through the valley of the Dodh Kosi river - a distant tributary of the Ganges - and into the Sagarmatha National Park, the Everest region sanctuary. It is not a particularly strenuous or technically difficult trek; there aren’t too many ups and downs on the trail, which is well-maintained (see graph below).

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And then, as you leave the villages and their terraced fields and pastures, you enter a world that is bleak, harsh and desolate, yet mesmerising in its beauty. This is a land of glaciers, moraines and rugged, barren valleys, overlooked by soaring, snowy mountains. This is one of the most elevated terrains that trekkers anywhere ever get to tread on. Four of the world’s six tallest peaks - Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu - rise here, crowning the towering ridges that straddle this forbidding Himalayan country. It is the home of Everest.

Trip itinerary

Day 1 - Check into hotel, 4pm pre-trek briefing, yoga class and welcome dinner

Day 2 - Early AM jeep departure for Salyan and sunset nature hike

Day 3 - Volunteer at medical center and school

Day 4 - Volunteer at medical center and school, evening program with Mahila Samuha women’s group

Day 5 - Helicopter ride to Lukla and begin Everest Base Camp trek to Monjo

Day 6 - Trek to Namche

Day 7 - Acclimatization day in Namche and visit Namche’s government health post

Day 8 - Trek to Deboche with a visit to the famous Dengboche Monastery

Day 9 - Trek to Pheriche

Day 10 - Acclimatization day in Pheriche and visit the Himalayan Rescue Association post

Day 11 - Trek to Lobuche

Day 12 - Trek to Gorakshep and visit to Everest Base Camp

Day 13 - Hike up Kala Patthar and start trek back down to Pheriche

Day 14 - Trek down to Namche

Day 15 - Trek down to Lukla

Day 16 - Flight to Kathmandu and rest day

Day 17 - Kathmandu sightseeing/buffer day for possible flight complications and farewell dinner

Day 18 - Check out of hotel

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Training for the trek

Prepare yourself for walking 5-7 hours a day on the trek. Many people begin moderately fit and end the trek feeling amazingly healthy. To maximize your enjoyment on the trip, plan an exercise program that trains  you for endurance hikes well in advance before you go. Brisk walks are a good start, building up to include long walks up and down hills while wearing your hiking boots. Carrying a weighted pack will help you get stronger. Whenever possible, take the stairs to train for ascents/descents, and seek out exercise programs that build up your cardio.

The best way to prepare for altitude is to go to elevation - if possible, within 2 weeks prior to your trek spend at least a night or two somewhere 3,000m or above to acclimate.

Whew! We know that’s a lot of information, but we hope it has helped paint a clearer picture of what’s to come. Feel free to print this out to keep as a reference on your trip. The next bulletin will walk you though how to pack for the Himalayas!


TREK RELIEF: EVEREST MEDICAL PROJECT

Bulletin #3

How to Pack for the Himalayas!

Tashi delek,

(Tibetan greeting, meaning “blessings and good luck”)

Let’s talk gear! Once you get to Nepal and before leaving Kathmandu, we need to make sure that you have everything you need to survive the Himalayan elements. Regarding clothes, think conservative. Bare shoulders and knees, especially in rural mountain villages, are culturally inappropriate and should be avoided.

Himalayan conditions

The weather in the Himalayas is unpredictable and can change from clear skies in the morning to snow in the afternoon. Please prepare for all extreme weather conditions: bright sun, wind, rain, mud, ice, hail, and snow.

The sun is much brighter and harsher at altitude, especially if there is snow. Fair skin will burn easily, and most people wear sunglasses and a large brimmed hat or baseball cap. The wind and cold can leave your skin chapped and cracked; thick moisturizers and vaseline and a buff or scarf to cover your face will help protect you from the elements.

The trail in Everest is relatively wide and well trodden - but prepare your feet for endurance. High ankle boots will protect you from rolling an ankle. Break in new shoes before coming to trek - you’ll be happy you did! Sandals will be a happy compliment to your boots and useful for showers, at the lodge, and resting your feet at lunch.

Trekking poles are a good option for those who are older or are concerned about their knees for the long downhill descents. If you are unsure, bring them just in case - they can be collapsed and kept in your duffel if you don’t need them.

Fun in the lodge

The day doesn’t end when we stop hiking. There will be down time while food is being prepared, after meals, and in the mornings before departure. We will be providing yoga mats for some much-needed stretching, but how you choose to spend your time in the lodges is up to you! Feel free to bring games, instruments, hobbies, speakers, etc. to share with your fellow trekkers and staff. And who knows, perhaps the people who will enjoy the entertainment the most will be the locals!

What we provide

As a service to our participants, we are providing a 55 liter trail duffel bag, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, down jacket, and toilet paper rolls. These will be distributed to you at our pre-trek briefing the day before departure.

All of the essentials can be picked up cheaply and easily in Kathmandu, the knockoff trekking gear capital. You can even stock up on your medications in the local pharmacies - no prescriptions necessary! We’ve included below estimated costs in Nepal, with variance depending on the style.

Luggage logistics

The porters will pick up your duffel bag from your room each morning and deliver it to the day’s destination. Expect to not have access to your duffel until you reach the lodge at the end of the day.

During the day, you’ll be carrying your own daypack which should have all the Himalayan trail essentials: rain jacket/poncho, fleece top, sun hat and sunglasses, and water bottle/thermos.

If you are traveling with extra luggage that you won’t need for the trek, you can leave it at the hotel in Kathmandu free of charge. We will arrange to have your luggage waiting for you at our end destination at the Bhaktapur hotel upon return from the trek

TREK RELIEF PACKING CHECKLIST

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We hope that this gets you excited as we are to get on the trail. Don’t forget, let us know you’re coming by filling out the Trek Relief Participant Information Form. And with that, happy packing!


TREK RELIEF: EVEREST MEDICAL PROJECT

COST BREAKDOWN

The values below reflect the trip costs and contributions for an average group size of five. Group costs are shared among trekkers, which allows more funds for our projects. We encourage inviting friends and family to participate to create an impact together!

Most of the trip costs incurred are shared costs, and therefore the more people that attend a single trek, the more money is contributed to our beneficiary.

Please note that although the United States IRS only approves tax-deductibility for project contributions specifically, money that goes towards trekking service fees fuel the local economy and provide for families in need.

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