Everest 3 Passes Trek, Part 1

Flying in to Lukla airport on a small, 15-seater prop plane was a nerve wracking experience. The plane flew over small mountains, down narrow valleys and then landed on a short, inclined runway on a small mountain plateau. The pilots calmly managed the controls as we came screeching down the runway, stopping just before a rock wall!

A foggy Lukla airport, no planes landing yet
A foggy Lukla airport, no planes landing yet
A helicopter leaving Lukla airport on a cloudy day
A helicopter leaving Lukla airport on a cloudy day
Plane landing at Lukla airport
Plane landing at Lukla airport
Plane landing at Lukla airport
Plane landing at Lukla airport

The trek began from the village of Luka and for the next 3 days followed the Dudh Kosi river valley through forests of pink flowering rhododendrons, birch, pine and fir. The trail often went along the edge of the mountains, high above the river, offering amazing views of the high peaks surrounding us. We crossed rivers several times on suspension bridges adorned with colourful prayer flags. We passed several small villages each having several mani stones, chortens, prayer flags and prayer wheels, all important symbols in Buddhism. The trail for the first few days was very busy with trekkers, porters, horses and yaks all on their way to Base Camp.

Mani Walls and Chortens on the Everest Base Camp Trail
Mani Walls and Chortens on the Everest Base Camp Trail
Mani Wall and Chorten on the Everest Base Camp Trail
Mani Wall and Chorten on the Everest Base Camp Trail
Mani Wall and Chorten on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Mani Wall and Chorten on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Dudh Kosi (River) on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Dudh Kosi (River) on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Porter Pit Stop
Porter Pit Stop
Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest Base Camp Trek
Suspension Bridge over the Dudh Kosi (River)
Suspension Bridge over the Dudh Kosi (River)
Hiking with the yaks
Hiking with the yaks

The 2015 earthquake destroyed many of the villages in this area including Namche Bazaar. Today, this major centre has been completely rebuilt showing the resilience of its people. 400 m above Namche is a viewpoint that gave us our first glimpse of the high peaks of Everest, Ama Dablam, Lhotse and Nuptse. It was a spectacular panoramic view.

Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar
Laundry Day in Namche Bazaar
Laundry Day in Namche Bazaar
Mt Thamserku seen from above Namche Bazaar
Mt Thamserku seen from above Namche Bazaar
Our first view of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam
Our first view of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam

At the village of Tengboche we attended a monk chanting ceremony at the Tengboche Gompa (Monastery). The Gompa’s temple was very similar to what we had seen in Bhutan with faded paintings on the walls of Buddha, and colourful flags and banners hanging everywhere. We sat around the edge of the temple while the monks chanted in monotone voices, lulling us in to relaxation.

The mountain village of Tengboche
The mountain village of Tengboche
The mountain village of Tengboche
The mountain village of Tengboche
The mountain village of Tengboche
The mountain village of Tengboche

A little further up the valley is Pangboche which is the last year-round village of the Khumbu area. It is also home to the oldest Gompa which is 600 years old. Inside the temple is a skull and skeletal hand that they claim is proof of the existence of Yeti. Both were very large, and similar to a very large human so maybe…. but sorry, no cameras were allowed.

Majestic Ama Dablam
Majestic Ama Dablam
Mts. Nuptse and Lhotse from Pangboche village
Mts. Nuptse and Lhotse from Pangboche village
Mt. Thamserku
Mt. Thamserku

While in Pangboche we were very lucky to attend a Village Puja (ceremony to bless the village). Lamas in ceremonial dress blessed food, prayer flags and other items while villagers looked on. At the end we all threw rice in to the air asking for prosperity for the village. It was one of our favourite experiences yet.

Lamas leading a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Lamas leading a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Lamas leading a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Lamas leading a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Head Lama at a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Head Lama at a Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Village Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Village Puja (ceremony) in Pangboche
Porters, chortens and prayers flags.
Porters, chortens and prayers flags.

After Pangboche, we veered from the Everest Base Camp Trek to go to Dingboche and Chukkhung as this is the starting point for the first of 3 passes, Kongma La (5535m). From here, the trek was above 4000 m for many days and therefore the vegetation was only minimal shrubs and tundra..

Dingboche villagers planting potatoes
Dingboche villagers planting potatoes
Ama Dablam and its plume
Ama Dablam and its plume
Amadablam
Ama Dablam

The trek to the Kongma La (Pass) was a very long, hard day first over grassy hills and then steep rocky trails and boulder-filled moraines, past a frozen lake before the final steep, sheer climb. On the way up to the pass we had gorgeous views. From the pass the views were spectacular, and we were lucky to have a beautiful sky. We saw Mts. Makalu, Nuptse, Ama Dablam and on the other side of the pass we saw Cho Oyu. Being able to see all of these 8000ers from one viewpoint was breathtaking.

View from Kongma La (Pass) of Makalu Range
View from Kongma La (Pass) of Makalu Range
View of Labouche from Kongma La (Pass)
View of Labouche from Kongma La (Pass)
Kongma La (Pass)
Kongma La (Pass)

The descent down from the pass was almost as difficult as the ascent as we had to negotiate the massively disorganized Khumbu moraine. Finally, we arrived at the guesthouses of Lobuche and a return to the EBC trek.

Khumbu Morraine
Khumbu Morraine
Khumbu Morraine
Khumbu Morraine

Coming soon, our arrival at Everest Base Camp and Cho La.

For details on the trek go to Everest 3 Passes Trek including Base Camp.

To see our pictures from Annapurna click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGL5XQNaWm8  

For pictures from Richard’s Everest Summit click  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFmsecd6yN0 

For extra pics from this trip go to Gallery/Nepal. For extra pictures from other blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca Click on a picture to view it as a slide show.

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