The highest meal of your life: Go to Everest base camp, just for breakfast

An aerial view shows Mount Everest on the border between Nepal and Tibet.
ADEEL HALIM/BLOOMBERG

An aerial view shows Mount Everest on the border between Nepal and Tibet.

In December, chefs from Noma and London's Ledbury built the world's highest-altitude pop-up restaurant at Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

It sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and in many ways, it was. But in fact, you can pop up to Everest for breakfast almost any day of the year, if you're so inclined.

All you have to do is know the right people.

It'll be the highest meal of your life, but no-one pays that much for the food.
123RF

It'll be the highest meal of your life, but no-one pays that much for the food.

Catherine Heald of Remote Lands has been planning quick-stop trips to Everest for her guests since December.

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They travel by helicopter from Kathmandu to South Base Camp, where they explore the surroundings for a 15-minute visit. (That's all an unacclimated traveller can usually bear at 5500 metres).

Then it's back in the chopper to the adjacent peak of Kongde Ri, where Yeti Mountain Home, at 4000m feet the world's highest-altitude luxury lodge, sets out tables for a private Champagne picnic with Everest in full view.

Nicola Shepherd, of Explorations, also coordinates morning trips to Yeti, minus the stop at Base Camp; that's an avalanche risk she'd rather not take, she said.

Both outfitters work with the same summiteer to lead the adventure: Tashi Tenzing Sher, the grandson of sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who with Sir Edmund Hillary took the first steps atop Everest in 1953.

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"He's climbed to the top of Everest a couple of times himself," said Shepherd.

"So while you're flying there he's giving you blow-to-blow, first-hand accounts of what it all entails. He really brings it alive for you."

THE LOGISTICS

Both Shepherd and Heald tend to book Everest breakfasts as part of larger packages-10-day treks through Nepal, most often-but the experience can be booked la carte.

Heald charges NZ$14,000 for groups of up to three; Shepherd charges $10,000 for two.

Full 10-day trips cost around $35,000 (everything is affordable in Nepal except for choppers).

Two things are key. First is your health: Even though you're not spending much time at altitude, those with heart or lung conditions can struggle with the elevation.

As for your hotel, it's best to start in Kathmandu, where an AS350 helicopter will pick you up early in the morning-as early as 6.30 am, depending on anticipated weather patterns.

From there, it takes 45 minutes to fly around Everest and land at Kongde Ri, not including the optional stop at South Base Camp.

THE HIGHEST MEAL OF YOUR LIFE

Breakfast itself is a private, white-tablecloth meal of eggs with bacon and sausages, croissants, and jam made from Nepalese fruits, plus plenty of Moet & Chandon, all served by a talented team of Sherpas.

But you're not here for the food, but for views you'll never forget.

"This is as close as you can get to Everest without being on it," said Shepherd of being on Kongde Ri.

"Nobody does it closer."

Heald concurred, adding that on your fly-around alone, you'll get views of four of the world's six tallest peaks: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, and Everest.

Don't worry about sitting outdoors in the extreme weather; you'll be given appropriate clothing.

 - Bloomberg

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