Although not a nice topic to think about, the good news is that deaths on the Everest Base Camp Trek are relatively rare!
This is certainly true when compared to summiting or attempting to summit Everest. In comparison to climbing Everest, the Everest Base Camp Trek is extremely safe.
The majority of deaths reported on Everest each year are of climbers and Sherpas who have to deal with much greater altitude, more adverse weather conditions and a greater risk of fatal falls than those who are trekking to Everest Base Camp.
That being said, the Everest Base Camp Trek still poses a variety of risks because of its location and altitude.
Being situated at the base of the tallest mountain in the world means that trekkers can succumb to altitude sickness.
Moreover, Everest Base Camp itself is susceptible to avalanches such as the devastating avalanche of 2015 that claimed the lives of 19 climbers.
While statistics are readily available for deaths of people climbing Mount Everest, there are no official statistics for deaths that occur during Base Camp treks and related routes.
On the low end we estimate that around 3-5 people die each year on the Everest Base Camp Trek. On the high end this number could be as high as 12-15. These numbers are estimates but out of roughly 30,000 people who do the trek yearly, this is a death rate of about 0.03%.
Of the few deaths that may occur each year, most of them are as a result of altitude related illnesses or underlying conditions, like heart disease, that have been exacerbated by the high altitude. While you are not actually climbing Everest, you may reach altitudes as high as 5,600m, which is higher than most mountains in the world.
Proper acclimatization is essential, but we will speak more of preventative measures later in the article.
Because most Everest Base Camp Trek deaths are not reported in the news, it is hard to accurately determine the cause of deaths on the trek.
Moreover, there are a number of route variations to Everest Base Camp, like the Three Passes Trek, Jiri Trek and Gokyo Lakes Trek, that all involve a little more risk as they encounter glaciers, rock falls and high passes. These are risks not faced on the classic Everest Base Camp Trek.
EBC Trek Deaths
Almost all trekking deaths in the Everest region are altitude related. Acute Mountain Sickness and similar conditions like High Altitude Cerebral Oedema and Pulmonary Oedema are all caused by ascending too high, too fast.
When symptoms of altitude sickness are detected, your guide should advise you to remain where you are or descend to lower altitude. It is imperative that you follow the instructions of the guides as most deaths occur when people try to carry on ascending and only turn back when it’s too late.
Altitude sickness can come on incredibly quickly. If you or someone in your group finds themselves incapacitated due to altitude sickness you will need to arrange an immediate helicopter evacuation. The good news is that the Everest region is well-equipped with many helicopter operators. But the cost for a heli-evac is non-trivial (around $2500-$5000) for a helicopter pick up and drop off in Lukla.
Underlying conditions can also come to the fore as a result of the altitude. There have been a number of reported cases of people dying from heart conditions during the trek. We recommend consulting your doctor before you embark so that he can inform you of any hereditary or underlying conditions you may have.
EBC Trek Deaths
Before embarking on any trek in the Everest region, make sure you know the difficulty and various risks the trek may pose.
Know your abilities and physical limitations by choosing a trek that is tailored to them. Many treks like the Three Passes trek and trekking up various peaks will have different difficulties and risks that come along with them.
In general, the Everest Base Camp Trek is very safe and doable for everyone. With a bit of preparation, correct gear and adequate acclimatization the trek should pose very little risk at all. It is very popular so the trails tend to be wide and smooth and support is more readily available.
Complacency is never a good trait to have when entering any high altitude region, so we have compiled a list of preventative measures that will ensure a safe and enjoyable trek.
- Do your research and stick to a trek that is suitable to your experience and fitness level
- Give yourself time to adequately prepare and train for the trek
- Trek in a group rather than going solo as you will have more support and the knowledge of a guide
- Choose a trekking company that has a track record for safety and can clearly articulate their safety procedures
- Choose a trek that follows a gradual ascent profile
- Don’t feel pressured to ascend quickly (usually 12 or more days is a good duration for an Everest Base Camp Trek)
- Go see your doctor before the trek to ensure you are not putting your body at risk
- Read up on the symptoms of altitude sickness and allow time for acclimatization in your itinerary
- Keep well hydrated, especially at higher altitudes as dehydration can only worsen symptoms of altitude sickness
- Be wary of uncooked foods as hygiene standards in Nepal are not world class
- Keep an eye out for yaks as they have been known to push people off the trail!
- Make sure you have adequate high altitude trekking insurance that includes helicopter rescue
The Everest Base Camp Trek is a well-established, safe trek that poses little risk to the average trekker who follows all the preventative guidelines. A bit of preparation will ensure you have a safe trek through one of the most beautiful regions in the world.
Tags: How many people die on the Everest Base Camp trek annually, Deaths on Everest Base Camp Trek, Everest Base Camp Trek Deaths
I found this article really good. Could you Share your email address, I have a carload of questions to ask.
Manish Kumar Dubey
Hi Manish, Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately I can’t give out my email but would be happy to try answer any of your questions here. Best regards, Mark!
Hi, i recently dis this trek and I can tell you that the number of death is way higher than that. We heard about 3 just in a week!!!!!
Hi Yanick, sounds like you were on the trail at a very unfortunate time. Although there are no official records of the number of deaths on the EBC trek I can assure you that 3 deaths in a week is very unusual. The numbers in this article could be slightly on the low side but the thing to remember is that many deaths are due to activities not related to the standard trek to EBC. For example, there are deaths caused by climbing accidents on some of the major trekking peaks like Lobuche / Island Peak ect. Deaths on the major climbing peak, like Lhotse and Everest, and deaths on trails that are more challenging than the standard EBC route, like the Three Passes Trek and Gokyo Lakes Trek. This article only focuses on deaths on the standard EBC route.
Hi mark I am 70 yrs old did base camp and Gykyo trek October 2017 with my Grsndaughter
Well done David! The Gokyo lakes trek is amazing!
Can you please e mail me I need to talk to re Everest base camp which I am doing soon
Hi Anoosha, please leave your question here and we will do our best to answer it. Cheers!
I am 14 yrs old and me and my father have booked 14th April to 30th April 18 slot for EBC with a group. Is my age appropriate to climb the Everest best camp? What special precautions do I need to take for my age?
Hi Atharva, being 14 years old and trekking to EBC is absolutely fine, what an amazing opportunity! This article can feel a little ominous, but the likelihood of something bad happening is very low. Make sure you follow best practice acclimatisation principles, going slowly, taking days to rest and acclimatise and drinking lots of fluids to stay hydrated. You can read more here: https://ebctrekguide.com/altitude-sickness-everest-base-camp-trek
Hope you have a blast!
Hi Mark, I’m a 55 year old dad and I have a 13 year old son that would like to do the hike to EBC. We’ve done Pikes Peak, Mt. Washington, Katahdin, and hike above the Arctic Circle in the Brooks Range. Wondering about the difficulty of hiking to EBC and if you have any recommendations for a company to connect with for this expedition.
Hi Rich, Sounds like you are planning a great adventure with your son. This article will help you judge difficulty: https://ebctrekguide.com/how-difficult-is-the-everest-base-camp-trek. Ultimately EBC is a multi-day trek at altitude. The toughest bit is the altitude, but this can be managed as long as you don’t rush. Plan acclimatisation days into your schedule. Feel free to use our tour operator recommendation service to find a respectable tour operator: https://ebctrekguide.com/go
Hi Mark, thanks for a cool article. I was wondering how risky are the flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and back. The videos and articles I read looked pretty scary 😉
Hi Roxy, the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and back is pretty hair-raising, but is pretty safe. The pilots who fly this route are very experienced. Most have been flying the route for decades, with multiple shuttles between the two airports everyday. That being said, Lukla is a less than ideal airport, and the high altitude and variable winds do make it a more risky flight than you bog standard domestic flight back home. You can find out more about the airport and flight here: https://ebctrekguide.com/lukla-airport-gateway-mount-everest
The tips for trekking EBC regarding altitude sickness and preventative measures were very helpful
Planning on doing a 16 day Everest Base Camp in December with a tour group with no previous trekking experience… is this risky or will I be fine as long as I am aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness? Thanks!
Hi Ren, 16 day base camp trek is more than enough time to acclimatise. Make sure you follow best practice acclimatisation tips here: https://ebctrekguide.com/altitude-sickness-everest-base-camp-trek and I’m sure you will have a blast.
Hi I have previously climbed only 2 peaks , one is 2500 mts and the other one is 4300 mts . I’m good in stamina . I’m planning to go for EBC and island peak in November 2018 . Would it be possible to climb island peak at that time ? How difficult would it be to climb island peak ? Before island peak , we have kala pattar and EBC .
Hi Srinath, thanks for getting in touch. Island Peak is definitely much more of a challenge than EBC and Kala Pattar (which are both just treks). If you have used crampons, a fixed line ascender and descender and are comfortable on a 50-60% slope then you will find Island Peak is a very doable challenge. If however you have no experience with the technical mountaineering then the challenge will be significant. Hope this helps.
Hi Mark,I did the flight by helicopter to EBC and kalapatar in April and I’m now doing the EBC walk on nov17,your comments and links have been most helpful thanks
Thanks Keith. Last time I was in the Khumbu I was fortunate enough to take a helicopter from Dingboche all the way back to Kathmandu. It was amazing!
9 people died during our trek just this November, 3 overnight 🙁
it’s much more dangerous than you would normally expect, and I believe saying that anyone can do it is not correct – there are a lot of conditions that you might not know about before you go there that will prevent you from getting to the base camp, not to mention that the trek itself is extremely difficult (mostly due to the altitude).
p.s. we were doing Gokyo lakes trek, so it’s a bit harder than the classical EBC, but I believe it still applies.
Hello! I am interested in making the trek to Everest Base Camp. I am 60 years old, but in good condition and have done other adventure trek/ long distance cycling, although most of that occurred many years ago. Still would be interested in any comments/advice you would have regarding this idea. Thinking about doing it with my old adventure friend (also 60 years old) and possibly my son and nephew. Not to worried about the young guys, I think they will be fine with proper acclimation etc. thanks in advance for any thoughts and advice. Best Regards, Tom King
Hi Tom, if you are in good health and are fit enough to hike for 4-6 hours a day, then I would say go for it! Make sure you build in acclimatisation days to help avoid altitude sickness issues. The main risk comes from people who rush up the trail only to succumb to AMS. To give you inspiration, the last time I hiked the trail I was with a group of 5 people who were all in their late 50s / early 60s (everyone made it to EBC, and some went on to climb Island Peak!)
How many people have died at camp three and I’m also wondering what the population is up to there.
Hi Dakota, Camp 3 is on Mount Everest. It is not part of the trek. Only people climbing Everest go to Camp 1, 2, 3, 4 and the summit.
I am planning a trip for summer/fall 2022. I will be 65 yo then, and want to adequately prepare. Please feel free to include me in your blog, advice column, etc
I am 71 years old.Climbed ABC 1 year ago.
Love to go back and climb EBC.
Since EBC is higher what are the risks.
Generally in good health.
Can you recommend an insurance company?
Hi Robert, If you managed ABC, I think you will be fine on EBC too. Admittedly EBC is longer and higher, but the approach is gradual and if you plan in some acclimatisation days, you can reduce the risk off AMS considerably. In terms of insurance, most providers don’t cover over 70s. I know the one we recommend, World Nomads, doesn’t. If you based in the UK I recommend contacting the BMC, or if in the US try the American Alpine Society, they may be able to help.
Hi Mark am planning to trek EBC in sep is it okay for first time trekker to directly venture this adventure at 59 yrs .
Hi Parul, if you are fit and healthy, and take a slow gradual hike to EBC, with a few acclimatisation days, then you should be absolutely fine. All the best!
Very helpful re-assurance, thanks. From a concerned mum. ?
What type physician would actually know enough to comment on my risk of high-altitude related illness? I doubt that my primary care physician would know enough to advise me.
It unlikely any doctor could comment on one’s risk of getting altitude sickness as there appears to be no real correlation to age, gender, fitness level, general health etc. However my article doesn’t advice that people see a doctor to comment on their risk of altitude sickness, but instead see their doctor before they embark on their trek to check if they have any underlying conditions that may put them at risk.
Hey Mark, a year ago I had a mechanical heart valve replacement op.. I am a triathlete, rock climber and after a 6 month recovery I am now doing double workouts, running and cycling but have to take a blood thinner… My brother and I would love to be to trek to base camp a year from now you think it’s safe for me? Sincerely Martin
Hi Martin, you sound super fit so in theory you should be absolutely fine on the EBC trek, especially if you take a nice and slow approach with a few acclimatisation days. But I would highly recommend getting the go ahead from your physician before making a decision.
Hi I done the walk 2013 it was reported the worst whether they had and 17 year after leaving base camp we woke up in the morning to 3 feet of snow
Six people were killed with avalanches
2014 43 people wear Keld
Sherper reportedly leaving clients between teahouses left the people they were looking after in bad weather that’s not counting how many lost fingers and toes
2015 there was an earthquake 18 soldiers died on base camp everyone seems to fail to mention these accidents
Hi Sam, the accidents you mention are related to climbing Mount Everest – not hiking to Everest Base Camp. Although, the earthquake and subsequent avalanche in 2015 unfortunately killed 22 sherpa and climbers as EBC.
Very beautiful article! I have a question. Is it important to have a mountaneering training before planning the trek to EBC?
Hi Sneha, no, you don’t need any mountaineering training to hike to EBC. It is just a basic hike. You do need mountaineering experience to climb Everest, and if you plan to do some of the High Pass hikes, then I would say some experience with high altitude hiking is useful.
I am planning to go there in mid February as a solo women at 23 years old. I don’t have much trekking experience but i am athletic and fit person in general and i started to long walks with my 10+ kg backpack recently. Do you think it is safe to do it alone at this time of the year? I know that it is safer to do it with guide and porter but i also want to do it alone so i can challenge myself and learn more… Hope that makes sense. Thank you in advance
Hi Yagmur, in general I’m not a big fan of solo trekking as it is risky if anything goes wrong (e.g. a fall, altitude sickness or other risks). I recommend either taking a guide, or hooking up with other hikers on the trail. The good news is the classic EBC trail is quite busy so you are never too far away from other people. All the best!
I am planning a solo trip at age 68 to go to the base camp. It is.my dream. I do not trek and am a diabetic.
Is there a way to get to the base camp,.go to the bazarr and get all my photos of.Mt
I doubt I can handle the walking .
Please advise. Hope to come next Oct due to Covid.
Roslyn Devaux USA
Hi Roslyn, it is possible to hire a helicopter to EBC, but the trouble is the altitude. You need to acclimatise to the high altitude otherwise you will get altitude sickness. So technically you could fly by helicopter, stop for a little while to take pictures and then fly back to Kathmandu, but this would be expensive.
It is very helpful to us. Thanks to the authority.
This write up is so so supportive….thanks
Hey Mark ,
I would like to do EBC next year with my family .
I am 43 year old ,my wife is 38 , my daughter is 12 and by son is 9 , can we all do it together . If yes what is the best time to do and what all preparation needs to be done .
Hi Anish, yes, it’s possible to hike EBC as a family. Some tour operators have an minimum age requirement, but many will take you with your younger son. The best time to hike is March through May or September / October. Here’s some detail on preparations: https://ebctrekguide.com/best-training-program-everest-base-camp-trek
Looking for good agency for trekking. I m from India.
Get a quote here: https://ebctrekguide.com/go