Letter from Mount Everest Base Camp


Near the Nepalese & Chinese border (28°0′26″N 86°51′34″E)

Elevation: 17,598 ft

To: Backyard Basecampers

Re: Expedition to the Mt. Everest Summit

Basecamp Crew,

We write to you from the snowy peaks of what the locals call “Chomolungma.” We can only hope this letter has reached you across the world. We have an important journey ahead, and your preparation is vital for success. From thousands of miles away, here at Basecamp, we wish to thank you for the bravery you have shown in joining the Crew of future mountaineers to train for the greatest adventure the world has known -  reaching the Summit of Mt. Everest. 

As the wind howls around our tent, we feel we must warn you - this is no easy feat. You and your Crew will not be ready for such a challenge as Everest overnight. However, with teamwork and tenacity, you will gain skills necessary to tackle the mountain wilderness and eventually reach this Summit. Training is tough and it will take years to perfect your abilities - but, we have been told you are not faint of heart!

We have organized you into Crews (age groups) for your expeditions: Explorers, Pioneers, Groundbreakers, and Trailblazers. Starting with our youngest recruits, the Explorers will focus on first on first learning how to care for the environment and respect plants and animals. When you become a Pioneer, you'll learn how to live in the great outdoors: camping, hiking, building fires, and navigating. Once a Groundbreaker - you will set out on backpacking trips and learn how to survive using tools and building shelters in the wild. Should you advance to Trailblazer, you’ll put your skills to the test on longer trekking adventures, learning to climb, practicing first aid, and staying strong over a fifty-mile trail. Mastering the skills of all these groups will be key to being prepared for that “Peak of Heaven,” the “Everest Summit”

As all great mountaineers know - you cannot simply start on the highest peak in the world. Instead, you must work your way there. Throughout your training, you’ll need to reach smaller mountain Summits (Backyard Basecamp’s rank advancements) before “summiting Everest.” To achieve each Summit you must 

  1. Master outdoor skills (Cairns)

  2. Travel long distances 

  3. Serve your Crew and Community

  4. Grow conservation habits and commitment to the Earth

As a young Basecamper you will start with the smaller Summits: Mt. Fuji, the Grand Teton, and the Matterhorn. After you’ve bested those “beasts", you’ll tackle Kilamanjaro and Denali. Each of these “Summits” mark advancement as a mountaineer and show your preparation for the final challenge. Only after testing you skills and your Crew’s teamwork will you be able to face Mt. Everest - the world’s tallest Summit. Please see Chapter Three of this Trail Map for further explanation on the “Trail to the Summits.”

Along the way, you will have trail markers, called Cairns, to help you know you’re on the right track. While most hiking cairns are made of stones stacked along a trail’s edge to mark the path, Backyard Basecamp’s Cairns represent outdoor skills you can master. Of course there are Cairns for camping, hiking, or backpacking, but you can also earn Cairns for navigating, first aid, conservation, cooking, tools, sciences, mindfulness, and activism… just to name a few. When you earn your Cairns, you’ll qualify for patches to show you’ve passed those “trail markers.” A Cairn patch is a symbol to those in your Crew (and especially to younger Basecampers) that you can lead them in that skill, if the need arises. Explore the Cairns you can achieve on our website. 

Basecampers, though the journey to Everest is long, the view from up here is breathtaking, and you’ll have our help along the way. Each Crew will be led by two experienced Mountain Guides (adult guides), who will encourage and support you in your journey. You Crew will consist of ten to thirteen other adventurers who you will need to rely on and support through the challenges ahead. Most importantly, you’ll learn self respect, build empathy for others, and grow to love and protect the environment.

To prepare for your Backyard Basecamp adventures this year, start by reading through this “trail map” with your parents. Watch the videos and start gathering gear. Visit our website for packing lists and links to all the gear you may need. 

We need those with a thirst for adventure and desire to learn to be a part of our Crew. If you know any other brave and adventurous souls who might make a good addition to our expeditions, tell them to join us! (plus if they join, you get a free Basecamp Haversack or Rucksack!)

Oh, and we almost forgot - you’ll need a name. No, not your regular name, a trail name! We’ll talk about this at Basecamp - but your name is an important reminder of your connection to nature.

We just glanced out our tent to see the sun’s rays peaking over the craggy edges of the mountains to the east. It’s going to be a beautiful day to hike. 

See you on the trail. 

Your Lead Guides, 


Basecamp Parents, you may call us by our regular names, 

Kara Leigh & Tyler Alden

About Orientation

This orientation guide will cover all the essentials to help you prepare for Basecamp. Here are some instructions to keep in mind:


Read through each of the next four chapters together with your Basecamper. This will help you both become familiar with the programs and expectations going into camp.


Explore the Cairn and Summit requirements and patches! Get excited - you’re setting off on an amazing journey with so much to learn ahead of you! You can even start working on some of the requirements now - you don’t need to wait for camp to start!


If you have any questions, or see something that needs clarification, don’t hesitate to email us! We’d love to get any feedback on this “Trail Map” orientation: info@backyardbasecamp.com



Continue to Chapter 2: