PLAN: Nepal - Three Passes and Everest Base Camp

summary: Has been a long time coming but I am finally getting back to Nepal. This time to the challenge of The Three Passes trek.
date: October/November 2023
distance: 180kms (more with side trips)
previous report: My previous trip report to this region
previous plan: My previous trip plan to this region
Nepal Time:
tags: HIKE - PLAN - NEPAL - THREEPASSES - EVEREST - EBC - 2023
views: 530

Leg 0 - Getting there

All travel in Nepal starts from Kathmandu. I will be travelling there via Kuala Lumpur, arriving in Kathmandu on October 27th. I will base myself in Kathmandu for a few days were I can get hold of any necessary permits (hopefully none) and transport out to Ramechhap from where flights to Lukla leave during peak trekking season.

The overall plan for this trip is to travel to Lukla via plane. Then heading North out of Lukla towards Everest Base Camp, but swinging to the East to Chukung which is the eastern most point of the Three Passes trek. From there, up and down, up and down, and several days in Gokyo to admire the worlds highest lake system.

Eventually returning home in late November.

Leg 1 - Kathmandu, Lukla, Chukhung

Flying into Lukla is always dependent on the weather, so hopefully at this time of the year, things go smoothly. Alternate plan is to go via Phaplu and a few days walk into Lukla. After that, just follow the crowds out of Lukla, but veer off the trail to Phortse and Pangboche, and on to Chukhung.

Kathmandu - Lukla - Phakding (flight, 3 hours walking)

It looks like during peak trekking season they have moved all flights to Lukla to leave from Ramechhap/Manthali airport due to congestion at Kathmandu. Getting to Ramechhap is either by Jeep or by bus. It is a long 5-6 hour trip that is apparently beautful, but not particularly enjoyable! I need to organise this transfer once I am in Kathmandu, hopefully my hotel can help there to make it easier. I may also need some accomodation for the night in Ramechhap - which appears impossible to do online!

Once in Lukla, the trail will head out to the West. Shortly after Lukla there will be a check point available to purchase the TREK card which is required for hiking in the Everest region. Checkpoints are at Lukla and at Monjo.

Phakding - Namche Bazaar (5-6 hours) 3440m

After breakfast we walk through beautiful pine forests and along the Dudh Koshi River. If the weather is clear, we may even catch a glimpse of Mt. Everest peering over the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. We continue walking until we reach the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park, Namche Bazaar, the gateway to Mt. Everest and main trading centre of this region. This day we cross five suspension bridges, the last one also known as the Hillary Bridge being the highest. It is an uphill walk from Hillary Bridge to Namche Bazaar.

The following day is a simple acclimatization day, so a hike up over the hill to the Everest View hotel, followed by lunch at the village of Khumjung.

Namche Bazaar - Pangboche (6 hours) 3870m

Shortly after following the main trail out of Namche Bazaar to the north, we take a less traveled path towards Phortse. Look out for it forking to the left and sign posted for Gokyo.

The trail starts to head uphill from here and is mostly well marked. The trail is less used than the main EBC trail, but there will still be trekkers here heading to/from the Gokyo Lakes region. Eventually, we will arrive at a crossing of the Dudh Koshi River where the river is quite small in comparison to previous days! Cross the river and head to the town of Phortse for lunch where there should be plenty of options.

After lunch, head out of town to the East towards Pangboche. If we make Pangboche early enough, there is a great monastery here to check out. Other than that, find a lodge to stay for the night. There are more lodges on the way out of town, than on the way in, so have a good look around.

Pangboche - Dingboche (4 hours) 4410m

Heading out of Pangboche in the morning, we head east on the main trail. Eventually we will arrive at a fork in the road and take the left branch towards Periche.

Pheriche is a beautiful village located on a riverside. There is also a small helipad that is used for helicopter rescues during emergencies. Dingboche is the better overnight alternative than the village of Periche, in being sunnier and less affected by the icy winds that descend through the Valley of Khumbu. To get to Dingboche, there should be a trail leading up out of the valley to the East of Periche.

For an acclimatization day, climbing the nearby peak of Nangkar Tshang to the North of Dingboche is a tough challenge and our first 5000m+ elevation.

Dingboche - Chukhung (4 hours) 4730m

Heading further up the valley today, and although this is not a long walking day, the elevation gain will force us to take things slowly. There is only one small tea house on the trail before Chukhung village, so aim to have a late lunch at our final destination. The village of Chukhung has several great tea houses (on my last trip, the best tea house of the whole trip), and plenty of space. There are several options here for further acclimatization including a climb up the imposing Chukhung Ri to the North of the village.

As well as acclimatization here in Chukhung, it's worth spending a little more time to rest up in preparation for the first pass that will be climbed in the coming days. Will give us time to recharge batteries, both ours, and the electronics!

Another easy walk option would be out to see Island Peak base camp. I've been there before, under different circumstances. So heading out there to check out the camp and the lake would be possible.

Leg 2 - Chukhung, Kongma La, EBC

Second leg of the trip sees us pass up and over the first of the three passes, Kongma La. It is possibly the hardest of the passes...time will tell! And after this adventure, a side trip to to the busiest place in the Khumbu, Everest Base Camp.

Chukhung - Kongma La - Lobuche (10 hours) 5535m/4940m

Selecting a good weather day, start early, with the sun because this is going to be a long day.

We head out of Chukhung to the North of the village and follow the trail to the West. It should be a well trodden trail and also marked by rock cairns, but be careful to stay on track. The trail will continue to climb slowly but surely up the mountain until it peaks out at the Kongma La lake at the top. The track doesn't get too close to the lake, and it is probably frozen, so make sure you take plenty of water for the full day hike. Some hot tea might also be a useful addition to the pack today, it will be liquid gold at the freezing cold pass!

Traversing around the top of Kongma La we will eventually get to the pass proper and start descending back down the western side of the mountain. There is a 'high camp' along here somewhere, but unlikely to be anything other than a clearing.

Once down the other side of the mountain, there is a difficult traverse of the Khumbu Glacier to complete. Care should be taken to follow the cairns and trail as much as possible. The climb out of the glacier can be steep and slippery, and hopefully completed before the sun starts to descend and temperatures plumet.

The village for the night is Lobuche which can get busy because it is the main stop for EBC. Good luck finding a room!

Lobuche - EBC - Gorak Shep (9 hours) 5380m/5164m

Another long day today which can be skipped depending on the fatigue level from the previous days. Everest Base Camp trail will be busy and crowded, but now we have come this far, it may aswell be completed.

Leave as early as possible and push up to Gorak Shep early, which will help to beat the crowds. Grab a quick snack, a room, and then head off to EBC. The trail is easily found, but still a challenge as 5000m+ always is! Although Mount Everest is not visible from base camp, there are numerous other peaks to look at before heading back to Gorak Shep for the night.

Sleep might be more difficult here due to the altitude, which is why we spend only a single night here. If conditions are favorable, tomorrow will be an early climb of Kala Pattar so get a good feed, and an early night!

Gorak Shep - Kala Pattar - Lobuche - Dzongla (8-10 hours) 5545m/4940m

Departure should be as early as possible - but pre-dawn is a real option! Amid pre-dawn darkness and cold temperatures (-10 to -14 C), there is always the potential for chilly winds which are quite common. Familiar peaks such as Lingtren, Khumbutse, and Changtse tower to the east even as Everest begins to reveal itself. But, it is upon reaching Kala Patthar that we get to see 360 degree up-close and formidable views of Mt. Everest. Enjoy the magnificent mountain panorama, and then return back to Lobuche for a good night's rest.

It is possible to push past Lobuche and on to Dzongla today - but only if we leave early enough in the morning. If we do make it to Dzongla, probably worth taking a rest day to prepare for the next pass crossing!

The trip to Dzongla is not too difficult, and the first half is all downhill! There is a branch off the main trail which can be difficult to find, and it is before Thokla Pass. If there is time, take the detour to Thokla Pass first as it is not too far off track, and then double back to the fork and follow through via the signs to Gokyo.

Leg 3 - Lobuche, Cho La, Gokyo

Hopefully the body is holding up because the thrid leg will see us climb up the more technical, glacier crossing pass, Cho La. There are more long days, but hopefully the views will make this section of the trip the most amazing of all.

Dzongla - Cho La - Dragnag (10 hours) 5420m/4700m

The village of Dzongla has some of the most amazing views, so hopefully the weather is clear and the mountain views present themselves well.

Heading out of the village early in the morning again, to the North West. The trail is well marked, but is steep and rocky. The final ascent before the Cho La glacier is a rocky chute that makes seeing the pass impossible. Shortly after reaching the top of this section, we will need to strap on our spikes and start off across the glacier. Care should be taken due to the possibility of crevasses and more, is high! After getting to the end of the glacier, the steep path to the pass continues - take your time, this section is steep!

Views from the pass though should make things worth while. Don't hang around too long though, there is still quite a distance to cover before getting to Dragnag. The trail continues around a lake and down thtough the valley to Dragnag. It is a small village, so hopefully has room. Gokyo is still a couple of hours walk - so unlikely to be reached before dark.

Gokyo 4750m

If the night was spent at Dragnag, hiking out to Gokyo will take a couple of hours in the morning. It is another glacier crossing so can be difficult, but should be well marked.

Once at Gokyo there are many things here to do - we are going to spend a couple of nights here for both the views and for some rest and recuperation!

Things to do while here other than rest is investigating the various lakes in the area, and also a climb up Gokyo Ri which should provide incredible views - this really is the one for the sunrise summit if we can make it!

Leg 4 - Gokyo, Renjo La, Lukla

The final leg of the trip will see us climb the lowest of the three passes, Renjo La. Don't let that mislead you though, this will still be a challenge, but the reward of the best views in the Khumbu will be amazing! Once over the pass, a few days of downhill and rest in Lukla is ahead of us.

Gokyo - Renjo La - Lumde (8 hours) 4340m/4368m

Heading out early again, which is common on our pass days, the trail heads to the west along the northern bank of Gokyo Lake. Once past the lake, the trail starts to increase in steepness, and the thin air will force us to move very slowly. In theory, this pass should be the easiest of the three, and once at the peak, the views back to the east should be amazing!

Knowing the rest of the day will be downhill, and not too far, take your time at this point as we are nearing the end of this amazing trip - soak in the views.

Once we start to descend, you will notice some amazing track building, with large smooth steps all the way down the pass and on to the town of Lumde which will be our stop for the night.

Lumde - Thame - Namche Bazaar (6 hours) 3820m

Today is an easy day. It will be all downhill to the village of Thame. A late start is most welcome at this point! The trail is well marked, but probably less people today than in previous days. The trail sticks to the eastern side of the river which will be our companion most of the morning.

The village of Thame should be the destination for lunch, and well withing a casual few hours walk. There are plenty of lodges in this village so look for one with the best pastries!

Once lunch is finished, we are continuing the day heading towards Namche Bazaar. Make sure we take the correct trail here, which should be sign posted, otherwise we will end up heading towards Lukla instead! Once in Namche Bazaar, look for a lodge which has the services that the end of a trek needs! We are likely to spend a few days here so select the lodge wisely.

Namche Bazaar - Phakding - Lukla - Kathmandu (4 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours) 2610m/2830m/1400m

The final days of this amazing journey will find us retracing our tracks along the well worn trail back to Lukla, we will likely stop off at Phakding for a night before getting to Lukla and finally a flight back to Kathmandu.


Google Maps

  • LEG-1 
  • LEG-2 
  • LEG-3 
  • LEG-4 
  • routes 
  • waypoints 
If this text does not disappear quickly, then your browser does not support Google Maps, or Google changed their MAPS API without telling me

Routes

LEG-1
35.60 kms
T-LUKLA
[45R 473159 3062411]
T-CHHEPLUNG
[45R 472278 3064480]
T-THADOKOSHI
[45R 472010 3066037]
T-PHAKDING
[45R 471679 3068423]
T-BENKAR
[45R 472012 3070780]
T-MONJO
[45R 472793 3071727]
T-JORSALE
[45R 472612 3072664]
T-HILLARYBRIDGE
[45R 472289 3073974]
L-NAMCHE
[45R 471532 3075632]
T-SANASA
[45R 473452 3077848]
T-PHORTSEJUNC
[45R 474850 3080650]
T-PHORTSE
[45R 475583 3080294]
L-PANGBOCHE
[45R 479148 3081305]
T-SHOMARE
[45R 480860 3082555]
T-TSUROOG
[45R 481688 3083607]
L-PERICHE
[45R 482283 3085585]
T-DINGBPASS
[45R 482594 3085273]
T-DINGBOCHE
[45R 483184 3085179]
L-CHHUKHUNG
[45R 487361 3086634]

LEG-2
24.16 kms
L-CHHUKHUNG
[45R 487361 3086634]
T-NUPTSEGLACIER
[45R 486265 3087133]
T-NIYANGKHOLA
[45R 485236 3087919]
T-KONGMAPASS
[45R 483873 3089425]
T-KONGMACAMP
[45R 483453 3089938]
T-KHUMBU-EAST
[45R 482181 3090739]
T-KHUMBU-WEST
[45R 481547 3091025]
L-LOBUCHE
[45R 481380 3091484]
L-GORAKSHEP
[45R 483157 3095066]
T-EBC
[45R 485993 3098058]
L-GORAKSHEP
[45R 483157 3095066]
L-LOBUCHE
[45R 481380 3091484]

LEG-3
15.95 kms
L-LOBUCHE
[45R 481380 3091484]
T-THOKLAJUNC
[45R 480250 3089011]
L-DZONGLA
[45R 477749 3090500]
T-CHOLAGLACIER
[45R 476376 3092802]
T-CHOLA
[45R 475578 3092980]
T-CHOLAPHEDI
[45R 474092 3092078]
L-DRAGNAG
[45R 472511 3090662]
L-GOKYO
[45R 469916 3092071]

LEG-4
37.60 kms
L-GOKYO
[45R 469916 3092071]
T-RENJOLA
[45R 466441 3091247]
T-LUMDE
[45R 464285 3086616]
L-THAME
[45R 465517 3078519]
L-NAMCHE
[45R 471532 3075632]
T-HILLARYBRIDGE
[45R 472289 3073974]
T-JORSALE
[45R 472612 3072664]
T-MONJO
[45R 472793 3071727]
T-BENKAR
[45R 472012 3070780]
T-PHAKDING
[45R 471679 3068423]
T-THADOKOSHI
[45R 472010 3066037]
T-CHHEPLUNG
[45R 472278 3064480]
T-LUKLA
[45R 473159 3062411]

Waypoints

 
P-ISLANDPEAK
[45R 493831 3088807]
P-EVEREST
[45R 492655 3095864]
L-CHAITYA
[45R 469601 3076488]
L-THESHYO
[45R 469161 3077096]
L-THAMO
[45R 468267 3077532]
L-THAME
[45R 465517 3078519]
L-KHUNDE
[45R 471080 3077620]
L-KHUMJUNG
[45R 472044 3077841]
P-NANGKAR
[45R 484155 3087271]
P-KALAPATTHAR
[45R 483137 3096626]
L-OLDEBC
[45R 485083 3095827]
P-NUPTSE
[45R 488740 3093568]
P-CHHUKRI
[45R 488101 3088951]
P-CHHUKHUNG
[45R 487655 3090460]
P-MEHRA
[45R 485032 3091445]
T-PHUNKI
[45R 474935 3078607]
T-TENGBOCHE
[45R 476814 3079052]
T-DEBOCHE
[45R 477403 3079457]
T-IMJAKHOLA
[45R 478292 3080622]
T-IPBASECAMP
[45R 493265 3086445]
P-GOKYORI
[45R 468647 3092900]
T-LUKLA
[45R 473159 3062411]
T-CHHEPLUNG
[45R 472278 3064480]
T-THADOKOSHI
[45R 472010 3066037]
T-PHAKDING
[45R 471679 3068423]
T-BENKAR
[45R 472012 3070780]
T-MONJO
[45R 472793 3071727]
T-JORSALE
[45R 472612 3072664]
T-HILLARYBRIDGE
[45R 472289 3073974]
L-NAMCHE
[45R 471532 3075632]
T-SANASA
[45R 473452 3077848]
T-PHORTSEJUNC
[45R 474850 3080650]
T-PHORTSE
[45R 475583 3080294]
L-PANGBOCHE
[45R 479148 3081305]
T-SHOMARE
[45R 480860 3082555]
T-TSUROOG
[45R 481688 3083607]
L-PERICHE
[45R 482283 3085585]
T-DINGBPASS
[45R 482594 3085273]
T-DINGBOCHE
[45R 483184 3085179]
L-CHHUKHUNG
[45R 487361 3086634]
T-NUPTSEGLACIER
[45R 486265 3087133]
T-NIYANGKHOLA
[45R 485236 3087919]
T-KONGMAPASS
[45R 483873 3089425]
T-KONGMACAMP
[45R 483453 3089938]
T-KHUMBU-EAST
[45R 482181 3090739]
T-KHUMBU-WEST
[45R 481547 3091025]
L-LOBUCHE
[45R 481380 3091484]
L-GORAKSHEP
[45R 483157 3095066]
T-EBC
[45R 485993 3098058]
T-THOKLAJUNC
[45R 480250 3089011]
L-DZONGLA
[45R 477749 3090500]
T-CHOLAGLACIER
[45R 476376 3092802]
T-CHOLA
[45R 475578 3092980]
T-CHOLAPHEDI
[45R 474092 3092078]
L-DRAGNAG
[45R 472511 3090662]
L-GOKYO
[45R 469916 3092071]
T-RENJOLA
[45R 466441 3091247]
T-LUMDE
[45R 464285 3086616]