Everest Base Camp Trek in February

Throughout Nepal, February, like January, is cold.  However, February sees a definite change in the weather halfway through the month.   By the end of February, you could be looking at temperatures of 6oC (43°F) in Namche Bazaar.  

It is still off-season for trekking in the Himalayan mountains so ‘off-season’ deals still apply.  With fewer trekkers around, you can get the best accommodation at a reasonable price, have your choice of date for flights, and enjoy a more peaceful time on the trails.  If you spend the whole month in the region, you will, however, definitely notice an uptake in numbers by the end of February.  

To get the best of the month, without being too cold, we recommend coming mid-month when it is quieter but the sun is beginning to break through.  Higher up teahouses will be reopening after their winter break so you should have to worry about whether lodges in a certain area are open or not.  But we always recommend you check, just in case it’s a particularly long winter. 

Some of the high passes, such as those on the Three Passes Trek will probably still be closed due to snowfall. And despite the rising temperatures, it will still be cold! As in January, we do not recommend trekking in February if you are not a seasoned trekker, and definitely, we don’t recommend trekking alone in the winter months. 

Weather and Climate in February in the Everest Region

Temperatures can reach up to 6oC (43°F) during the day but at night it can still fall to -17℃ (1℉). As mentioned, there is a definite difference between the beginning and end of the month. But it’s not that much different: maybe reach 9oC (49oF) at Namche at the end of the month.  Layers of clothing are always best when trekking, never more so in February and into the spring months. 

Snowfall in February and its Impact on Your Trek 

Rain is highly unlikely but there may still be occasional snowfalls.  If there is heavy snow you may have to delay your trek by a day – which is much easier to do when the trails, and teahouses are quiet.  Although it is unlikely heavy snow will last more than a day at one time, do remember snowfall may change the trails. Some trails may close, others may become difficult to recognize.  Be willing and able to change your plans at the last minute.  Again, it is for this reason we recommend taking an experienced guide with you.  

In May 2023 a porter was lost, with fatal results, on the trail when heavy snow separated him from his group and he was unable to find the trail.  In May. When snowfall is pretty rare.  So do not think you are being an amateur just because you stay an extra day in a particular place or come down, rather than go up in incremental weather. 

Pros and Cons of Trekking to EBC in February

A huge advantage is that there are fewer other trekkers on the trails.  You will also, as a result, get better deals on accommodation rates.  The skies will be clearer and the mountains laden with more snow for even better photographs!   Your flights are less likely to be delayed because the weather is good, and you will be able to choose the date you want, not just what is available.  

On the negative side, there are fewer people to converse with at dinner.  Less fun in the teahouses. But if that is not a problem for you, it might not be negative! Some of the trekking lodges are closed during the winter.  By February they will be opening up again, but things might not be fully open, or items on the menu are still not available yet. 

You might have to extend your trek due to snowfall or amend your route. So remember to build in contingency days before any international flight out of the country.  Overall, take the advice of the lodge owners as they know the location, the weather, and its outcome on the trails.  Do not travel alone during the winter.  It’s only common sense if you think about it.  If you really must travel alone, come in the spring. 

Preparing for the Everest Base Camp Trek in February 

You should always be prepared when trekking in the Himalayas, but even more so during the winter. 

Physical Fitness and Training

As well as attending the gym or jogging it is important to take long walks, preferably hikes when preparing for the EBC Trek. But unless you live well above sea level, in the Andes perhaps, nothing is going to prepare you for the high altitudes you will encounter on your trek.  It is, for this reason, we say go slow, even if you are a superb marathon runner in your hometown!

Acclimatization and Altitude Sickness

It is always necessary to acclimatize at high altitudes, anywhere. Here on the Everest Base Camp Trek, we recommend acclimatization by spending two nights in Namche Bazaar.  You will see this also on any reputable agent’s website.  The best way to acclimatize is by being active – which means walking for 3 or 4 or more hours each day.  There is also another acclimatization day at Dingboche as you are again going higher.

These acclimatization days are for your own safety.   If you are traveling alone, we can tell you without these acclimatization days, at best you will feel tired and drained of energy.  At worst, you will fall ill.  Unfortunately, it is usually the younger trekkers who believe their general youth and fitness will do the trick that travels too fast and get into trouble medically. 

We don’t want to scare anyone or put you off this fabulous trek, but we must repeat it doesn’t matter how high your fitness level or stamina is, unless you are born and bred at a high altitude you must obey nature’s rules: the effects of altitude sickness can be lethal.  

We have detailed out information about altitude sickness on another page, but let us remind you briefly.

If you have a headache be aware might be more serious than you think. Mild symptoms of altitude problems are headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, inability to sleep, and dizziness. 

You can prevent or resolve these symptoms by acclimatizing and taking the trek slowly.  Should your symptoms get worse after staying two nights where you are, then you should descend immediately to a lower altitude. The worst-case scenario is that it develops into High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) when you have mental confusion, and find balance and coordination difficult.   The problem is that with mental confusion, you may not recognize you are very unwell. 

HACE can very very quickly get worse and if untreated the result is death.  Again, we stress the importance of traveling with a guide and porter who can help you recognize the symptoms and take steps to ensure you do not get really sick.  At least, alert the lodge owner if you feel unwell.

This is a very real fact in high places such as the Everest Region – we are not trying to scare you.  Be aware everyone coming in will have a headache of some sort until they become used to the less oxygen in the air.  Only a few people will have this develop something more serious.  And it doesn’t matter your age, fitness, or previous experience of hiking.  

Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day even if it is cold out. 

Eat well (even when not hungry). Energy bars will do the trick if you can’t face a proper meal during the day but do try to eat a good breakfast and dinner. 

Do not go too high without acclimatizing first. And we repeat this over and over. 

Do not go too fast – it is not a race.

Pay attention to your body, especially to any headaches. It’s a natural way of telling you 

something is wrong

Do not be afraid to backtrack down to a lower altitude.  No one will think any the less of you.  

Remember anyone can suffer from altitude regardless of age or fitness level. It isn’t a sign that you are unfit or too old. 

Essential Gear and Clothing

Here is a list of the gear you need for the EBC Trek.  It is a basic, all-season round list.  It is important to have a four seasons sleeping bag for the cold winter months, a thick down jacket, waterproof boots, and waterproof trousers (for the snow).  Good warm innerwear is also important in the winter. 

  • Four-seasons sleeping bag
  • Trekking boots (waterproof) and wear them before you come
  • Trekking trousers (waterproof for winter and monsoon)
  • Thermal leggings and tops 
  • Trekking tops
  • Jackets (both down and fleece)
  • Warm socks
  • Gloves (thin ones for inside, and thicker waterproof ones for outerwear)
  • Warm cap and a sun hat for the warmer days
  • Trekking poles (even if you don’t usually hike with them, they are great in the winter to test the depth of snow and pin-point the path more easily)
  • Sunscreen – yes high altitude sun is strong even in the winter
  • Lip balm
  • Moisturiser
  • Thermal flask (great for drinking warm water or tea between teahouses)
  • Water purifying tablets or straws for drinking water 
  • Sunglasses – so much better if they are large and/or wrap around
  • Camera
  • Whistle (in case of emergencies)
  • Medical kit (including extras of your essential medicines in case of delays)
  • Personal hygiene kit: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, sponge, towels, toilet paper 
  • Washing powder (if you really think you will be washing anything on the way) or use your shower gel
  • Notebook and pen (old school for where the WiFi doesn’t reach)
  • Phone charger and power pack

Obtaining Permits and Documentation

You need two main permits to trek in the Everest Region:

Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit: Nrs 2,000 per person.

Obtainable in Lukla or Monjo.  Not available in Kathmandu.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit: Nrs 3,000 per person

The parking permit is obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu or in Monjo at the gate entrance for Sagarmatha National Park, which is probably more convenient. 

If you are trekking in from Jiri you will need an additional permit for the Gaurishankar Conservation Area at Nrs3,000 per person.  Oddly, this is only obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu.

Required documents for trekking permits: you will need a copy of your passport for all.  For the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Permit, you will also need to provide two passport-sized photographs.  Pay in local currency.

Itineraries and Routes

Yes, it is possible to trek to Everest Base Camp in February.  It may be a little more challenging in the first half of the month.  You should definitely check before leaving Kathmandu, or more likely, when you arrive in Namche Bazaar.   If the route looks too difficult due to the weather or laying snow conditions, you can always change it.  For example, you can go from Namche to Tengboche Monastery in a short loop – back to Monjo and Lukla.  From the Monastery you will get great views of all the mountains you came for including Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Lhotse, and Everest.  

You could head to Everest View Hotel, just a short hike (around an hour) from Namche, and spend a few days there.  This is recommended only after your two days of acclimatization at Namche. 

As long as you are flexible, and listen to the recommendations locals or your guide gives, you can go on and enjoy your trek, albeit a bit differently. 

If you are planning to do the Everest Three Passes Trek or Gokyo Chola Passes Trek, it will be difficult in the winter months as the teahouses are closed in Thagnak and Dhonjila (the settlements on each side of the Chola Pass).  And they are also closed in the Lungden village, close to the Renjola Pass. Check as you go with other lodge owners.  By the end of February, things should be opening up again. 

Trekking with Helicopter Tour Open in February

As long as you plan ahead, you could also do a shorter trek of either 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 days which concludes with a helicopter tour to EBC before flying back on the heli to Kathmandu.  This would be a particularly good thing to do in the winter months when the skies are very clear, flying is not usually hampered by the weather or too many other tourists wanting the same seats. You can choose how many days you wish to trek and you will have a guide with you in case of any changes to the itinerary due to snowy conditions. 

Modifications Due to Weather Conditions

But if you really want to do the whole Everest Base Camp Trek in February, be prepared to make changes due to the weather.  It normally does not snow continually for days, maybe one day during your trip.  But then you should be prepared to wait it out where you are.  Don’t try to outwit nature.  If the snow is very deep you may need to change your route.  Your guide or lodge owner can call ahead and assess the trail based on what others are saying in the next location – listen to them and do accordingly. 

Major Stops and Highlights Along the Way

If the trails are fully open when you visit in February, which they should be by the mid to end of the month,  the stops remain pretty much as they are the rest of the year round.  That is:

Namche Bazaar for acclimatization, socializing, and learning about the history of the Sherpas and Sir Edmund Hillary’s contribution to local communities. 

The Irish Pub has Guinness would you believe? And a snooker table, good music, and reliable WiFi.  

Explore the newly opened (on the day of the 70th anniversary of the first summit of Everest) Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Heritage Centre at the Sagarmatha National Park Visitors Centre. Find out all about earlier attempts to summit Everest and about the first successful summit by Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.  

On Saturdays, there is a market with local goods and handicrafts.  

Hiking to Khumjung to visit the school and health post that Hillary opened as a thank-you to the Sherpas is always a great day out. On the way look out for the Danphe, Nepal’s national bird, which is of the pheasant family.  Wild Himalayan Tahr (goats) and perhaps musk deer are also around.  Why not loop around for a cup of coffee at Everest View Hotel?

Tengboche, the highest monastery in the region.  Drink tea and talk with the friendly monks when they are free.  Or enjoy the wonderful mountain views and serene atmosphere.  You can even join a puja (religious ceremony) in the morning or evening.  Dress warm if sitting for some time.  You can also light some butter lamps for your loved ones at home or who have passed away. 

Please be respectful in the monastery itself and ask before taking photographs.  A small donation to the monastery is much appreciated. 

Lobuche is a small settlement at 4,940m/ 16,210 ft from where you trek to Kalapatthar and Everest Base Camp.  It is the last overnight stop for trekkers on the way to Everest Base Camp and lies near the Khumbu Glacier. The majority of the lodges here are very basic and may be closed during the winter months.  A few lodges do provide Internet and, should it be required, oxygen. It does lie at a high altitude.  

Major Highlight of the Month 

Gyalpo Lhosar – this is the Tibetan New Year and is celebrated usually in February.  In 2024, the tentative date is around 10 February (not guaranteed!). Observed throughout the country where ever Tibetan origin people gather, it is most often seen by visitors at Boudhanath in Kathmandu. 

There are several days when the festival is celebrated at home with family before ending with singing and dancing in public.  Not many visitors get to witness this in the Khumbu region, mainly because there are few tourists around at the time.  Best seen in Namche Bazaar and at Tengboche.  

Other highlights of trekking to EBC in February include:

  • Sunset or sunrise from the top of Kalapattar. It is always beautiful and at 5,545m, Kalapattar is truly the viewpoint of Everest.
  • Spending time at Everest Base Camp.  No climbing expeditions will be here during February so you will have the place to yourself – a bit eerie perhaps?
  • Follow in the footsteps of the great mountaineers and check them out at the new Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Heritage Centre in Namche. 
  • The spiritual atmosphere of the Himalayas.
  • The empty trails and quiet lodges. 
  • Snow-clad mountains make fabulous photographs. 
  • The chance to get the best accommodation at the best prices.
  • Simply being there! 

Accommodation and Logistics  in February in Everest Base Camp Trek

Teahouses and Lodges During the Trek

Teahouse is the name given to the trekking lodges in Nepal.  These lodges are, on the whole, simple affairs and family-run.  There are one or two more comfortable lodges in the lower regions of the trek, which you might wish to enjoy, particularly on your return journey.  But on the whole, your room will consist of two beds near a shared toilet.  Hot water is given at a small fee.  

During the winter months, some of the lodges may be closed as the families head down the mountain until spring (and lots of trekkers) arrive.   Be ready to go to another lodge if the one you heard about/ stayed at before/ would love to visit is not open.

There may be fewer items on the menu. Fewer tourists mean fewer goods coming in.  Any non-family member chefs may be off on their annual holidays too.    But on the whole, food will be plentiful, and more importantly, hot!  Note do not recommend you eat meat or drink alcohol on the trek.  Sherpa dishes will always be available and here is your chance to try them out.  

This can vary every year, but we know that if you are thinking to do the Everest Three Passes Trek or Gokyo Chola Passes Trek, it will be difficult as the teahouses are closed in Thagnak and Dhonjila (the settlements on each side of the Chola Pass).  And they are also closed in the Lungden village, close to the Renjola Pass. Again, checking with your teahouse owner on what is open on the trail ahead is very valuable. 

Food and Water Availability

There will be plenty of food available in any teahouse that is open in February.  The menu might not be as large as it is in the main trekking seasons.  Some supplies are hard to get in the winter, but you will never go hungry.   Drinking water is available and as usual, at a cost.  Do not drink tap or river water!  Buy boiled water (that is what that flask is for) from the teahouse or add your own tablets/ straw to FRESH water where it is available.  There will be a charge for boiled water.  Bottled water is now not available on most of the trekking routes in Nepal as thoughts turn to conservation. 

Hiring a Guide and Porter 

If you chose not to trek through an agency, it is usually possible to hire a guide and/or porter once you are in the Everest Region.  In the busy season, it might be harder to find someone as there are a lot of trekkers coming through.  In January it might also be challenging to find either a guide or porter as many will have gone downhill for the winter.  Please do your homework thoroughly before setting off.  Perhaps contact a few of the lodges in Lukla, Phakding, or Namche about the situation with porters.  

Safety and Travel Tips in February

Monitoring Weather Conditions   

Enabling climbers on Mount Everest to easily access data from the Everest Weather Station Network, National Geographic has created a low-bandwidth, near real-time site to display the latest weather data easily on a smartphone. This works from Base Camp or above. The data given is for wind speed, temperature, humidity, and pressure in local time.

Aiming mainly for those actually on Everest (climbing expeditions), you might find more information relevant to your trek here but again it is aimed at those on the mountain.  Putting the setting to 4,000m may give you an idea of what is happening at lower altitudes. 

Coping with Cold and Altitude

Please follow the advice above regarding altitude.  Specifically, even if trekking alone, please ensure you take acclimatization days as appear on any EBC Trek itinerary.  These days are there for a reason.  Take more breaks if you feel you need to, it might be harder going if the trail is snowy or icy or the chill factor is high.   Be aware if you feel unwell, especially if you have a headache that worsens or feel nauseous, unsteady, or have palpitations. Altitude sickness is a very real threat. 

Make sure you have the correct clothes for winter.  Waterproof boots, several pairs of socks, waterproof over trousers for deep snow or snowfall, a thick down jacket, and lots of layers.  Also good gloves and hat(s).  Be prepared with another set of similar clothing in case you get wet. If you find you are sweating with exertion during the day’s hike, ensure you change your damp clothes when you reach the lodge.  Getting a chill is no one’s idea of fun. 

Travel Insurance and Emergency Services

Please make sure your travel insurance covers trekking up to 5,000m.  Read the small print, as they say.  Helicopter rescues are available in case of incidents but they will not come out unless you can prove you can pay them or are covered by the correct insurance. 

There are some health posts at various points along the trail but bear in mind they may be closed in the winter season, and at the beginning of February.  If in doubt, talk to your lodge owner, but do not expect anything if you are uninsured.  The locals see thousands of people pass through their communities and cannot be expected to financially help anyone in trouble.  Of course, they will do their best to assist you in an emergency situation with advice and making calls. 

Himalayan Sherpa Hospital, at Phakding, opened in November 2022 offering outpatient and emergency services to locals and visitors in its 15-bed facility. More information can be found here

Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA), is at Pheriche since 1973 and is manned only during the busy spring and autumn trekking seasons by volunteer doctors.  Their main aim is to prevent altitude-related deaths among visiting trekkers and locals.   They give a talk on altitude-related problems every day at 3 pm which is free to attend. As a non-profit, any donation you would like to give is also highly appreciated. 

The Mountain Medical Institute (MMI) clinic is found at Namche and Dingboche.  The clinic at Dingboche is closed in the winter months.  Staffed by doctors trained in the unique needs of people living and traveling at high altitudes, the clinic in Namche has a basic lab, EKG, and ultrasonography.

Call: 985-2850021/ 981-3933179 / 984-1936205.

Embracing the Challenges of Trekking in February

Trekking around the Everest Region and to EBC in February can be wonderful. Yes, it will be hard and a challenge for both the body and mind.  If you feel you are up to the challenge you will have the trip of a lifetime.  Embrace the winter and the snow and enjoy the fact few other trekkers are on the trails,

The Unique Experience of Everest Base Camp in Winter

Definitely, this is a unique experience and one you should record fully to show the folks back home.  If you have any questions about trekking to EBC in the winter, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Tips for Trekking in February

The main tip we have is to stay safe by taking a guide and/ or porter who is experienced in trekking this region in this season.   The trails can and will change if there is snowfall.  You may be extremely lucky and the trails will all be open and clear, but no one can guarantee this.  

Be adaptable – you may have to change your plans at short or no notice.  Again, easier to do if you have someone with you who speaks the local language and knows the lay of the land,

Do not get frustrated and do not try to ‘push on’ against the advice of your guide or lodge owner.  

Planning is everything! Get the proper gear, ensure your insurance will cover you, embrace the cold, and enjoy the unique experience!  

Finally, wear sunscreen! Yes, even in the cold. 

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Article by Pradeep Guragain

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He was born and bred in Nepal and is a seasoned hiker and rider.

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