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THREE PASSES EVEREST BASE CAMP route and information

Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes is probably the best high-altitude trek in the world, combining a large part of the classic Everest Base Camp trek route with the relatively unexplored wonders of the Gokyo Lakes region

Mount Everest  Three High Passes

One of the most challenging most treks in the Khumbu is known as Everest Three passes trek. The Three high passes to Everest Base Camp are Three High passes: Renjo La (5,360m), Cho La (5,420m) and Kongma La (5,535m). This route takes in all the highlights—both in terms of mountain views and local Sherpa culture. The three passes trek is a challenging trek given the consistent high altitude passes with Kongma La being the most challenging. It is harder than the straight Everest Base Camp trek and Gokyo Lakes, but not quite as challenging as trekking peaks such as Island Peak and Mera Peak.

The route to the Three Passes Trek follows heads north from Lukla up the Khumbu valley until Namche Bazaar. From here, hikers can choose to hike either clockwise or counterclockwise. Counterclockwise is the more common route. The other way is to go west from Namche to Thame and Lumde and cross Renjo La pass to get into the Gokyo valley. The trail then goes over the Cho La pass into the Dudh Kosi valley. From here it heads up to Everest base camp. Finally it heads back down and crosses the Kongma La pass arriving in the Imja Khola valley. En route you will summit three great peaks: Gokyo Ri, Kala Patar and Chukhung Ri. 

The views that you will take in from the top of Kongma La are truly some of the best you will come across in the region. The terrain of the trail is also not easy to navigate. While there are some flatter and more dirt like sections, a lot of the trail is also done on more rocky and uneven terrain.  

everest base camp cho la trek profile
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best time to climb

The hike can be done throughout the year, however, Autumn (Sep - Nov) is often considered to be the best season for hiking in Nepal with a great climate and several festivals. although it is a little colder than Spring, the skies tend to be much clearer. Spring, (March - May) is the next favourite and also main summit season for Mt Everest. During spring time, the Khumbu valley erupts with beautiful rhododendron flowers. June to August is monsoon season so the route is quiet. During November and December it is cold but again, some travellers find it worth visiting during this period, as there are fewer tourists. 

travel insurance

The cost of a medical evacuation from the mountain is expensive, which is why adequate travel insurance  is required on all climbs booked through us. Adequate, means you must be covered for 1) Trekking or hiking – this may sound strange, but many insurance list that as an exclusion. 
2) Altitude up to 6,000 meters. Most travel insurance providers do not include this under their standard cover and often limit it to 3500m or less. 
3) Sprains strains and physiotherapy – yes, many insurers exclude this; though ironically, this is what you will most likely need cover for. 
4) Personal accident – this is the horrible part of insurance. Yes, you need to be covered in the case of death. We are often told by clients – “if anything happens to me, just leave me there.” It is not that simple. 

https://www.nomadicadventures.co.za/Travel-Insurance.html

Three Passes trek to Everest Overview

Day-1: Arrive Kathmandu 
Day-2: Guided Sightseeing in Kathmandu 
Day-3: Flight: Kathmandu (1,310m) - Lukla (2,840m). Trek to Phakding (2,610m) 
Day-4: Trek Phakding to Namche (3,440m) (5-6 hrs). 
Day-5: Acclimatisation at Namche 
Day-6 Namche (3,440m) Thame (3,800m). (4hours). 
Day-7 Thame (3,800m) 
Day 8: Trek from Thame to Lumde 4370m/4-5 hours
Day 9: Trek from Lumde to Gokyo 4790m/7-8 hours, via Renjo-La 5360m.
Day 10: Gokyo
Day 11: Trek from Gokyo to Gokyo-Ri 5360m to Thangnak 4700m/2-3 hours. 
Day 12: Trek from Thangnak to Dzongla 4830m/6-7 hours, via Cho-La Pass 5368m 
Day 13: Trek from Dzongla to Lobuche 4910m/3-5 hours. 
Day 14: Lobuche (4,930m) to Gorekshep (5,140m). (5 hours) 
Day 15: Gorkshep (5,140m) to Kala Patthar (5,545m) to Lobuche (4,930m).
Day 16: Trek from Lobuche to Chhukung 4730m/6-7 hours, via Khongma-La 5535m  
Day 17: Trek from Chhukung to Pangboche 3930m/4-5 hours, 
Day 18: Trek from Pangboche to Namche 3440m/5-6 hours.  
Day 19: Trek from Namche to Lukla 2840m/6-7 hours,  
Day 20: Lukla (2,840m)- Kathmandu (1310m)
Day 21: Free day in Kathmandu.
Day 22: Final Departure.  

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everest THREE PASSES BASE CAMP itinerary

Day-1: Arrive Kathmandu

Arrival and transfer to Hotel.

Day-2: Guided Sightseeing

Guided sightseeing around Kathmandu valley.

Day-3: Flight: Kathmandu (1,310m) - Lukla (2,840m). Trek to Phakding (2,610m).

Our early morning hike to Everest Base Camp begins with a flight into Lukla - is a lifetime experience, in itself. The airfield is on a slope and the difference between the two ends of the runway is about 460 meters! You will land on an airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpas in the mid-1960s. After meeting with guides and porters and a short break for tea we hike away from Lukla towards Everest base camp for a few hours along the Dudh Kosi River to the village of Phakding   2,610m. Once you have trekked through the small village of Ghat (2550m), Phakding is a short walk away.                

Day-4: Phakding (2,610m) Namche Bazaar (3,440m).

 After leaving the village of Phakding the path takes us through a magnificent forest of rhododendron, magnolia trees and giant fir trees alongside the Dhud-Kosi river through small villages like Bekar and Monju. You will crisscross over the river a few  times on high suspension bridges until you eventually come to the Sagarmatha Check Point where your permits needs to be checked. The climb then starts with a downhill trek down to the river and then all the way back up again to Namche.          

The trail heads up through blue pine forests and as you climb there are rhododendron trees which bloom in Spring  time. The trail heads up through blue pine forests and as you climb there are rhododendron trees which bloom in Spring   time. Namche is the largest Sherpa village and is the unofficial capital of the Khumbu, gateway to the high Himalayas. This relatively small town is a bustling tourist zone and  trading hub literally is perched on a sloping hill. It is surrounded on all sides by mountains, from Thamserku to Kongde Ri.  Trekkers heading to Mt. Everest, Gokyo, Island Peak and many other destinations for both trekking and expedition, have at  least two nights  stopover in Namche to acclimatise.

Day-5: Namche Bazaar (acclimatisation 3,440 m)

We will spend time here on short treks to acclimatise. Although it says acclimatisation, this means you need to walk for the principle of climb high and sleep low, meaning we gain altitude, then descend again to sleep low, enabling our bodies to better adjust to the altitude before we continue our ascent. A slow and steady pace with adequate time for acclimatisation is key to a successful trek. So hike up to Everest View hotel for just that, a view of Mt Everest, assuming the weather is clear.

Day-6 Namche (3,440m) Thame (3,800m). (4hours).                  

Our hike is moderately easy and very pretty, as we head to the Sherpa village of Thame 3800m.

Day 07: Acclimatisation day 

On this day you will do an acclimatisation trek

Day 08: Trek from Thame to Lumde 4370m/4-5 hours

In the morning after breakfast, we climb over the moraine and gently climb to Lumde following a route used for centuries by the traders who ferried salt and grains across the Nangpa-La into Tibet until reaching Marulung which takes about 4 hours. Then trail then continues uphill to Lumde for another an hour. Stay overnight at Lodge.                   

Day 09: Trek from Lumde to Gokyo 4790m/7-8 hours, via Renjo-La 5360m. 

A long day starts early in the morning. The trail ascends steeply until reaching Renjo-La which offers spectacular views. From here you can see the roof tops of Gokyo shining in the distance alongside the shore of the lake. The trek takes about 4 hours and we then trek all the way down to Gokyo, arriving after about another 3 hours. Stay overnight at Lodge.

Day 10: Gokyo 

We will spend a day here looking around the area

Day 11: Trek from Gokyo to Gokyo-Ri 5360m to Thangnak 4700m/2-3 hours. 

Early in the morning we hike to Gokyo-Ri to watch the sun rise over the snowy peaks. The trail is steep and rocky until reaching Gokyo-Ri after about 2 and half hours. We then continue on our trek passing the Ngozumpa Glacier until reaching Thangnak. We have lunch and stay overnight at Lodge.

Day 12: Trek from Thangnak to Dzongla 4830m/6-7 hours, via Cho-La Pass 5368m 

Early in the morning, we start our trek. The gradually ascends through another steep rocky pass which is very hard going, to bring you to Cho-La after about 4 hours. Once at the top the trail descends until reaching Dzongla. It takes about 2 and half hour. We have lunch and stay overnight at Lodge.

Day 13: Trek from Dzongla to Lobuche 4910m/3-5 hours. 

Today, we start our trek to Lobuche which will take about 3.5 hours. It is on today's trail that we will join up with the classic trek to Everest

Day 14: Lobuche (4,930m) to Gorekshep (5,140m). (5 hours)

The trail from Lobuche follows the muide, a geographer's name for the trough at the edge of the glaciers lateral moraine. A tributary glacier has piled another moraine across the trail which has to be crossed, giving a good view of Pumori. This section of the trek provides good views of the Everest group and Pumori from Gorek Shep and Kala Pattar

Day 15: Gorkshep (5,140m) to Kala Patthar (5,545m) to Lobuche (4,930m). 

 Hike up early in the morning to Kala Patthar to see the stunning views of Mount Everest. If you feel physically fit, optional hike to real Base Camp of Everest (5,200m) can be made. Get back to Gorakshep or Lobuche for the overnight stay.   

Day 16: Trek from Lobuche to Chhukung 4730m/6-7 hours, via Khongma-La 5535 

We start today by gaining altitude as we ascend up rocky terrain to the Khongma-La Pass which takes about 3 hours. You can actually see the ridge of the Kongma-La from Lobuche. Like the Cho La, it is very steep as you approach the top and also very rocky, so again, slippery at times. Once at the top of the pass, Lobuche will appear as a tiny pin prick in the middle of nowhere.

From there, we have a great view of Amadablam, Thamserku, Island peak, Lhotse and other peaks . We then start the steep descent. Along the way you will come across a beautiful glacial lake and ahead of you, the ever present, 

Ama Dablan. The route will take you all the way down to the Imja Cola valley, with views across to Island Peak, all the way to Chukkung. You may overnight there or perhaps Dingboche if the group is okay for another 1.5 hour trek. Dingboche is much prettier.

Day 17: Trek from Chhukung to Pangboche 3930m/4-5 hours,

 Early in the morning, we hike from Chukkung through Yak pastures and pretty landscape of the Imja valley until reaching Dingboche. Then the trail continues till Pangboche village which takes about 2 hours. Stay overnight at Lodge. Day 18: Trek from Pangboche to Namche 3440m/5-6 hours. 

In the morning after breakfast, we continue our trek to Tengboche through the deep forests which takes about 2 hours. At Tengboche, they have a lovely monastery you may wish to visit as it also has an interesting history.

The trail then descends steeply towards Pungi Tanga where you can stop for a drink, and then you head on another steep climb to the ridge line above the river. The path here is wide and has been built by Ang Pasang Lamu Sherpa, an elderly man now in his late 80's . He relies solely on donations to employ locals to make the path safer. You will pass his donation box so please remember to pop something in it. You then continue al the way back to Namche Bazaar.

Day 19: Trek from Namche to Lukla 2840m/6-7 hours, 

In the morning, we leave the Namche Bazaar and trail descents through pine trees and cross the high suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi River. Then our trail continues River side and we arrive in Jorsale and it takes about 2 and half hours. We theen continue our trek to reach Phakding crossing several bridges about 1 and half hours walk. We have our lunch there. After lunch our trail continues until Lukla with several descents and ascents for the next two hours.

We trek further to the mountain airstrip at Lukla where we will catch our return flight to Kathmandu the following day.

Day 20: Lukla (2,840m)- Kathmandu (1310m) 

Fly to Kathmandu, with remainder of the day free. Hotel Overnight. 

Day 21: Free day in Kathmandu.

Day 22: Final Departure.

Transfer to International terminal of Kathmandu Airport for the Final Departure

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Base Camp Everest Three Passes Frequently Asked Questions

What is the height of Everest base camp and the three passes?

Everest Base Camp elevation is 17,600 feet (or 5,380m) but  considering it takes 8 days to reach that altitude from 2845m or  9,383 feet (or 2,845m) it is quite an altitude gain. Climbers also have the chance to climb Kala Patthar for sunrise or sunset view and can go as high as 18,514 feet (5,659m). Kongma La is an altitude of  5540m. Cho La is 5420 m and Renjo pass is 5360m.

How difficult/challenging is this trek?

In general if you are happy walking for 5to 6 hrs a day with a light day pack then you should be fine so long as you are fit in advance. Trekkers should be comfortable with occasional rough terrain, but expect long steep climbs. Some days could include ascents and descents of 500 metres or more. Most walking is done in the morning and afternoons are for relaxing. One thing you cant train for is altitude and that can prevent people reaching base camp where there is 50% less oxygen compared to sea level. The secret is to acclimatise well and to do so you need to take a slow pace, a good itinerary, ascend to altitude slowly, rest, eat good food, sleep well and drink plenty of fluids.

How long does it take to hike Everest base camp?

The trek takes 14 days from Kathmandu to Kathmandu if you fly into and out of the mountain airstrip of Lukla and take the normal route to base camp. You should allow 2 or 3  days on top of this for travel days to reach Kathmandu and to get over jet lag and to explore the city. There are other Everest Base Camp route options for the trek such as Jiri, Saleri and Phaplu which are all beautiful, less travelled and take longer.

What are the tea houses like?

The rooms are all generally basic.  The higher elevation rooms do not have toilets, and some facilities only have squat toilets. Lodges at lower levels may have attached private bathrooms.  There is no heating and electricity is often solar and on only for a few hours in the evening. Rooms have a bed, pillow and a thick blanket a small light.

When is the best time or months to trek to base camp Everest?

The best time to visit Everest Base Camp is either side of the late May to mid-September monsoon season. Late September to November and February to May are the main trekking months with fairly stable conditions, good visibility and temperatures at Base Camp getting up to about -6°C. Base Camp gets busy during late April or early May with climbers preparing for their attempts on Everest’s summit. Although late Nov-Feb are extremely cold, around -15°C by day and much colder at night, clear skies are present with quieter trails.

Can I charge my camera batteries and mobile phone during the trek?

Yes, you can charge your batteries and mobile phones in every place by paying extra at the rooms do not have charging facilities. The price of charging may vary in different places. It is wise to bring your power bank which you can charge in Kathmandu and use it in the higher area as charging batteries in the higher area is quite costly.

What are the meals like on the trek?

You can choose the food from the menu and it depends on the places. You can also choose local dishes and continental/Chinese dishes. However, food is cooked by the basic local lodges so the variety and flavour differs from one place to the next.

Do I need crampons for the Cho La Pass?

The short answer is that it depends on the season but at the end of the day it is better to have them, than not to have them. You also do not need specialised ones, simple "yak teeth" type crampons will do which can be bought in  Namche for about $10.

What is the Cho La Pass?

The Cho La Pass essentially connects the main Everest Base Camp route with the Gokyo region (home to the Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri mountain). The day up and over the Cho La Pass is not an easy one. We are talking about a 7+ hour day that includes over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Along the way, you will be trekking on ice on the Cho La Pass in addition to hiking across the Ngozumpa Glacier.

How hard is it to hike to Everest Base Camp compared to Kilimanjaro?

Most people think Everest Base Camp is higher than Kilimanjaro but surprise surprise, it is not. Base camp of Everest (or rather Kala Pathar – the little hill you climb up above base camp) is actually 5545m, whereas Kilimanjaro summit is 5895m.

People also think it is a tougher hike than Kilimanjaro, but Kilimanjaro is actually regarded as tougher by those who have done both.

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How will the altitude affect me on Everest trek?

This is a really difficult one to answer directly - "how will I cope with the altitude". To be honest, this is an ' unknown' factor as no-one can predict how your body will cope at altitude. People who have been to altitude many times in the past without problems, may on one climb suddenly develop problems. There are many factors that play a role. The only way to help combat this, is to take all of the necessary precautions, and walk slowly.                  

What is the weight limits for the plane to Lukla?

The flights to Lukla have a limit of 10 kilograms per person of checked luggage and 5 kilograms per person in hand luggage.  They weigh all bags and will charge you if your bags are overweight.

Where can I get climbing Insurance for Everest Base Camp?

If you are going hiking or climbing or trekking then you need extra cover for your activities. Hiking and Climbing have become popular for many adventure seekers looking to add a climb up Kilimanjaro or a trek to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna or even Island Peak to their list of amazing adventures. But any climb to high altitude carries with it a number of risks and having the correct and good trekking insurance is an absolute must. We recommend two different groups depending on which country you reside in. For further details, click here


Which of the three passes is the most difficult?

The Cho La connects to two most popular valleys for trekking in the region, the Gokyo valley and the Khumbu. The easiest way is from Dzongla towards Thagnak but either way, it is tough going. This route is very difficult even for fit trekkers as it is very steep and the terrain is made of loose rock, large boulders and ice. It is the most difficult during winter due to heavy snowfall, at times making it impassable. 

Renjo la offers better mountain scenery comparing Chola pass. Renjo is the westernmost pass of Nepal's Three Passes Trek, connects Gokyo to Lumde. It is also does not require a glacier crossing. It is considered the easiest of the three passes trek he western side of Renjo is much steeper than the more gradual approach from the east (from Gokyo).

Kongma La is the easternmost pass of Nepal's Three Passes Trek and is generally considered to be the most difficult of the three. It has steep elevation gain and loss and difficult rocky terrain. The trek can take upwards of 8+ hours, making it the longest day of the trek as well.