The following information is based on our experiences on the Everest 3 Passes Trek. It is not intended to be a guide, but hopefully will provide extra helpful information. Most of the information will be on the 3 Passes portions as there is a lot of information available on the EBC Trek.
We included some of our trekking times. Note that we were already acclimatized but were carrying our own full packs for these times.
We did the trek in a CCW direction in 17 days and did not use a guide.
Guesthouses – These very basic accommodation and restaurant spots are very common on the trails, but the higher you get they are less concentrated and more expensive. The villages that we mention have guesthouses, but there are other options.
Permits – There are now (April 2018) 2 required permits.
- A Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit – 3,400 Rs, purchased either at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu or at the Park Entrance.
- Local Entry Permit – 2,000 Rs, purchase in Lukla
Days 1 – 6 Lukla to Chhukhung – From the airport in Lukla, walk all the way through town to the trekking permit office to purchase the Local Entry Permit. The Police check is just past the office who will check both permits. The trail begins right after the check point and immediately climbs down 200m to the Dudh Kosi. The trail is very easy to follow and takes you up the valley through forests and along the mountain edge with several river crossings on suspension bridges. There are great views from the start and they get better and better. The trail has a lot of elevation gain and loss for the first few days. You enter in to Sagarmatha Park before reaching Namche Bazaar. There is a checkpoint before the park gate and again before the town of Namche so keep your passes handy on that day and on the way out.
Above the town of Namche Bazaar is a great lookout near the Hotel Everest View (3890 m). You will have your first views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Spectacular views of Ama Dablam continue for the next 3 days.
After Namche we stayed in Tengboche so we could see the monk chanting ceremony at the Gompa (Monastery). When we were there only 3 monks attended, so it was not as impressive as we expected, but still an interesting ceremony to witness. We also stayed in the next village, Pangboche, to visit the Gompa. It has a beautiful temple where they house a ‘Yeti’ skull and skeletal hand. There’s a 250 Rs fee per person.
After Pangboche the vegetation changes to shrub and tundra. To do the 3 Passes trek CCW you will leave the EBC trail and head to Tengboche and then to Chhukhung.
Day 7 Kongma La – The Kongma La trail heads up the moraine behind Chhukhung and follows the moraine to reach a grassy hill. The trail is obvious as it winds around the hill, though a moraine field and up steep, rocky moraine to a lake (frozen when we were there). After the lake there is one last steep shear climb to the pass (5535 m). (4hr 17min). From the pass you are rewarded with amazing views of Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Makalu and on the other side, Cho Oyu. You can see the guesthouses of Lobuche from the pass. It’s a steep descent down and then you have to cross the disorganized, massive Khumbu moraine. When we did it there was a good path marked with cairns, but others missed it so watch for cairns from the start. (2hr from pass)
Days 8 – 9 Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Duglha – Back on the EBC trail it takes 2 hours to reach the final guest houses of Gorak Shep. From there you can take a day trip to EBC (1hr 8 min) and on a separate day, trek to the top of Kala Pattar (1hr 20 min) for stunning views of Everest’s Summit, South Summits and South Col.
Day 10 Cho La – For the 2nd of the 2 Passes, Cho La, the trail goes north up the valley above Duglha ‘village’ where Dzonglha is the usual base. The trail begins behind the guesthouses and follows a long, flat river valley. At the end of the valley go up a moraine(left) and then scramble up a steep, narrow gully on your right to the first look out. This lookout has more spectacular views than the actual col, so don’t forget to look around.
From there, cross the boulder field to a snowy hill above the glacier’s icefall and then cross the glacier to a steep 50m boulder hill to the pass (5330 m)(2hr 30min). The descent is initially very steep for 200m down an icy, snowy, rocky trail. Many people used crampons or nanospikes, but we were able to descend without. Conditions vary daily, so speak with other trekkers for current info. After this descent, you cross a moraine over 3 moraine hills to marked pass and then a long, slow 450 m elevation descent to Dragnag. (2hr from pass)
Days 11 -12 Dragnag to Gokyo – From Dragnag it’s a 2 hour trek across the Ngozumbo Glacier. The trail is up and down over scree and boulders but there is a well marked route. You arrive on the hill above Gokyo and your first view is the beautiful aqua coloured lake Dudh Pokhari with snow capped mountains right on its edges and the cute lake-side village of Gokyo below. Above Gokyo is Gokyo Ri which has a lookout giving amazing views of Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in a gorgeous 360 panoramic. It’s a 1 ½ – 2 hour trek up to the 5360 m but the views are worth it. There are other easier treks around Gokyo for rest day activities. North of Gokyo, up the Ngozumbo Glacier, are 2 lakes and a small pass giving view of Everest’s north face.
Day 13 Renjo La – The trail for the 3rd pass, Renjo La (5360 m) leaves from Gokyo. It beings with a slow ascent on the side of Gokyo Ri along the side of Dudh Pokhari. Continue to look back for improving views of Everest. The trail then steeply climbs a moraine and crosses what’s left of the Machhero Glacier. From there it’s a steep climb up boulders and rocks to reach the pass (2hr 27 min). From the pass you are rewarded with amazing views of the Dudh Pokhari, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Makalu. The clouds came in when we were there and quickly covered the mountains. The trail quickly descends down a ‘staircase’ of flat slabs for approximately 200m. Then you continue to slowly descend along ridgelines above the Renjo River valley. We did it during mild snowfall so had no views. The first guesthouses are located in the hamlet of Lumde after 2 hours of descent from the pass.
Day 14- 17 Thame to Lukla – The village of Thame is another 2 ½ hours from Lumde and can be reached from the pass if you prefer. During the descent down the windy valley we passed several yak herder settlements. As we descended further the vegetation changed from tundra to green shrubs including dwarf rhododendrons and junipers and by the time we reached Thame there were pine, fir and juniper trees. Above Thame there is an interesting Gompa (monastery) that is worth visiting. The temple is beautifully decorated in the sae style as Pangboche’s Gompa (1/2hr).
From Thame, the trail ascends and descends along the side of the mountains, high up from the Bhote Kosi. You pass through a few nice small towns with several mani stones, chortens and prayer wheels on the trail. We were here at the end of April and the rhododendrons were in full bloom It was one of the most beautiful days on the trail. The trail takes you back Namche Bazaar where you continue down the main EBC trail to Lukla.
For more of our treks click here, or go directly to Phuktal Gompa (Zanskar), Hidden Valleys (Ladakh), Markha Valley Trek (Ladakh), Kashmir’s Great Lakes, Everest 3 Passes, Jumolhari Yaksa Trek (Bhutan), Kalaw to Inle Lake (Myanmar), Pinnacles Trek (Borneo), Carstenz Pyramid
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