Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

During high season, some 500 travelers head out on the Everest Base Camp trek every day. But has the famously stunning trek become a victim of its own popularity? Sarah Reid finds out.

Wiping the stream of snot off my face with my ski glove, I take another labored breath, and will my legs forward.

At 5,000 meters (16,404 feet), where each breath takes in 50 per cent less oxygen than at sea level, every step feels like five. But I still have a few hundred meters to go before reaching the summit of Kalar Patthar, a steep, rocky ridge near Everest Base Camp that offers the best view of the world’s highest peak you could hope to glimpse without climbing it. And I’m not going to miss it for the world.  

After getting a taste for hiking in the Himalayas during a volunteer abroad program in Nepal in my high school days, I’d often thought about returning to tackle Everest Base Camp (EBC). But in recent years, I started to wonder if I’d left it too late.