One of the most frequently asked questions we get about this trip is what is the K2 Base Camp Height?
For people who have never been at altitude before, the thought of going up a glacier to a plant-less moonscape might sound intimidating.
This article covers everything you need to know about the K2 height from base camp, what to expect in terms of altitude side effects, and how best to prepare for your journey to K2 Base Camp.
K2 Base Camp Height: Quick Facts
How Does the K2 Base Camp Height Effect Your body?
The long journey from Concordia to K2 Base Camp trek will feel harder than your average 15 km trek does – mostly because of the altitude.
K2 Base Camp is the highest point we sleep during the trek and your body is adapting to the low oxygen levels you are breathing.
It is normal to feel out of breath if you move too quickly and lightheaded if you stand up too fast.
The most common symptoms of being above 5000 meters are headaches, lack of appetite, and trouble sleeping.
To mitigate these side effects, it is absolutely crucial that we follow our acclimatization program along the way to K2 Base Camp by never sleeping too high too fast.
By the time we reach base camp, your body should already be acclimatized so experiencing extreme symptoms of altitude sickness are very rare.
Things you Can Do to Manage Altitude Sickness Symptoms
There is simply no avoiding the fact that your body will feel different given the height at K2 Base Camp.
Nobody feels 100% as they do at sealevel up here – including the professional mountaineers or Nepali Sherpa.
Here are a few things you can do to manage the symptoms of mild altitude sickness:
Should You take Diamox for the K2 Base Camp Trek?
This is a question we get asked a lot and to be honest with you there is no clear-cut answer.
What is Diamox exactly? Diamox is a prescription medication that reduces the activity of a protein in your body called carbonic anhydrase. Blocking this protein can help reduce the build-up of certain fluids in the body as is commonly used as a preventative for altitude sickness.
Everyone’s body is different and Diamox truly does affect everyone differently. What works for one person might not work for you and vice versa.
Our recommendation is that if you have used Diamox before and had good results from it, then use it.
I have used Diamox a couple of times as have our other guides and for me personally, I don’t like it as I get all kinds of weird side effects from it including severe numbness in my face and hands and nosebleeds.
The best option when it comes to minimizing altitude sickness symptoms is to just acclimatize properly. When it comes to acclimatization, you just can’t cheat your way through without expecting to feel the effects.
The main thing is that we want everyone on the trek to feel their best – however you need to acheive that is up to you.
If you are on the fence about taking Diamox or not for the K2 Base Camp Trek, talk to your doctor and see what they recommend given your health, body type, and age.
How Does the K2 Base Camp Height Effect Mountaineering Expeditions?
Ask anyone from a K2 climbing expedition how they feel after being at K2 Base Camp for 2 months and the answer will almost certainly be: tired.
When you spend months at or above 5000 meters, there is no getting around the fact that your body is compensating in all sorts of ways for the lack of available oxygen in the air.
Most climbers drop a significant amount of weight, have trouble sleeping properly through the night, and generally feel weak after so much time at base camp.
Of course, they are as acclimatized to the high altitude as is humanly possible – but even though many of them are top athletes, they still feel the effects of being up so high for an extended period of time.
That said, I have been at base camp when big parties are happening so 5000 meters is not too high to indulge in a little beer and whiskey with your fellow climbers. Shout out to Seven Summit Treks for inviting us to a full-on dance party at your camp last year.
Concordia K2 Base Camp Height Difference
The height difference between the famous campsite known as Concordia and K2 Base Camp is roughly 400 meters depending on where at base camp you set up shop.
The altitude difference is not astronomical so you should have a good indicator of how you will feel at K2 Base Camp based on how your body reacts at Concordia.
Usually, about 80% of our guests experience very mild altitude sickness symptoms like mild headaches and strange dreams.
Again, because of our strict acclimatization itinerary, having a severe reaction to the altitude is very rare and if someone has a bad reaction it is usually an indicator of an underlying health condition and not just the altitude itself.
Although altitude sickness should be taken seriously, perspective K2 Base Camp trekkers should not be overly worried. Most serious cases of altitude sickness occur above 7000 and 8000 meters.
It should be noted that everyone in our group has the option to stay at Concordia and rest if they are not feeling up to the additional trek to K2 Base Camp (though it should not be missed!)
Will Training and Fitness Make You Better Prepared for the Altitude?
Altitude is a funny thing in the sense that it does not matter really how fit or unfit you are – how your body will react at altitude is a roll of the dice that still confuses scientists to this day.
Certainly, being fitter will mean that you will feel the physical effort of trekking to K2 Base Camp less than someone who is totally out of shape.
But being a super athlete even does not guarantee that you will not feel the altitude.
The best way to prepare for the K2 Base Camp Trek is just by hiking in the mountains as much as possible and trying to get to some higher altitudes in the weeks/months before the trip. For most people though, we don’t live in the Himalayas so getting the chance to regularly spend time at 4000 and 5000 meters before the trip is not practical or possible.
This is another thing to not get too worked up over. Our acclimatization trek into base camp means that you will be slowly getting your body used to being at altitude well before we arrive at the base of K2.
The point being, don’t let the K2 Base Camp height intimidate you!
How to Join Epic for a K2 Base Camp Trek?
Every summer – June – August – we run multiple K2 Base Camp Trek trips.
Join our team of experienced local and western guides for the absolute adventure of your life.
Check out our K2 Base Camp Trek trip page here for the next departure dates.
If you have any questions about the K2 Base Camp Height or about altitude on this trek, drop us a comment below!