A can of soda, he pointed out, costs twice as much as in the U.S. "It's been flown in to Nepal and carried up a mountain. Porters are the truckers of the trail."
Porters to carry the luggage for the trekkers are included in the cost of the tour. Maxwell, who is a photographer and videographer, paid for an extra porter to help with his camera equipment.
He took one camera, a Canon 5D Mark2, and several lenses. He took 1,500 photographs.
He said taking photographs along the trail helped with his pacing. The others would walk for an hour and rest for 15 minutes; he would walk for five minutes and stop for 30 seconds to take a photograph.
Most of the walks and hikes took four to six hours. There were a couple of rest days so the travelers could adjust to the altitude when they visited a Sherpa home, Buddhist monasteries and a high-altitude research center.
On Day 15, they reached the Everest Base Camp at 17,598 feet. The next day, they hiked to a small peak at 18,300 feet before starting a six-day descent.
Maxwell said the effects of altitude weren't too bad -- some headaches and shortness of breath. "But I did have some crazy, vivid dreams."
The temperatures ranged from zero at night to 70 degrees midday. On the coldest nights, he stayed comfortable sleeping in his jacket in his sleeping bag. The unheated lodges were basic, offering a twin bed with a thin foam mattress.
Occasionally the trekkers could pay $2.50 for a hot or cold shower, but most of the time they used baby wipes to keep clean.
They ate a lot of yak steak and rice. "I became a fan of egg-fried rice," Maxwell said.
The land cost of the trip for fall 2012 is $3,900 and $4,100 for the spring and fall trips of 2013. The three-week tour begins at Katmandu, which Maxwell described as "like India without the upkeep."
The flight from Katmandu to the landing strip at Lukla in a 12-seat plane is an experience that Maxwell won't forget. "The runway is on a 12-degree incline. At the end of the runway was an 800-foot drop; at the other end a straight cliff."
To prepare for the trip, Maxwell lost about 20 pounds from eating a healthier diet. He wore a 40-pound lead vest and walked Bridge Road and up and down the steps in a seven-story parking garage.
"I learned from Kilimanjaro. Step downs with an artificial leg can cause searing pain," he said.
Maxwell's next adventure may not involve a mountain. He's thinking about driving through India. He has been there before, and his photographs from India and a Cambodia trip may be seen in Lola's, on Bridge Road, and other pictures are on his website, skytrainmedia.com.
Still, as he said after Kilimanjaro, "Never say never."
Reach Rosalie Earle at ea...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.