My friend and I are both 25 years old. We do mountain biking and trekking. We are planning to go for the Everest Base Camp trek and the Annapurna trek. Where in India can we buy good quality tents, ice axes, boots, gloves, sleeping bags, etc? How do we judge the life of these items; do they have expiry dates or should we go by how many hours they’ve been used?
When is the best time for treks in Nepal? Can you suggest other treks there? What would be the budget, for say, a month? Money isn’t a problem but we want to use it well.
You won’t need ice axes. If you want, you could use trekking poles. You will not need to buy tents either because you will do these treks either with an agency or as teahouse treks. So you will walk with daypacks and the agency will ferry your personal gear, tents, rations, and kitchen equipment. At the end of each day, they will erect your sleeping tent, a dining tent and a toilet tent. Or, you will trek on your own and stay in teahouses. You can carry your own backpack or have a porter carry it for you.
The life of your gear depends on maintenance. You can use your down sleeping bag and jacket on treks for at least 10 years. Hang down your items in a cupboard with silica gel crystals to absorb the moisture from the air. Use your gear periodically if you want it to last longer.
Kathmandu is my favourite shopping destination for good quality trekking gear but if you insist on buying everything in India, check out Great Rocksport, 127, Rajendra Bhawan, Rajendra Place, New Delhi 110008; Phone: 9810215848; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post-monsoon is the best season for the treks. People do either the Annapurna Circuit trek or the Annapurna Base Camp trek. However, while doing the Circuit, you can make a detour to Base Camp and then complete the circuit, though it will be tiring. In the same region is the Mustang trek. This is a restricted area and you have to go through an agency. Only groups of at least four people with permits are allowed. Another fabulous trek is the Langtang valley trek.
Teahouse trekking is cheaper. The Everest Base Camp teahouse trek costs about Rs 30,000 per head (minus airfare) if you are economical. The prices rise as you gain altitude because everything has to be transported to the teahouses over increasing distances. A bottle of water can cost up to Rs 250 (Nepali currency). Rs 1,000 in Indian currency converts to Rs 1,600 in NC. If you want to use an agency, shop around on the web. We Indians can sometimes get lower prices than Westerners!
Yana Bey is a mountaineer and an adventure expert.