The ‘Three Passes’ trek takes in some of the most exciting and picturesque scenery in the Himalaya. Follow our 2022 team through trails that cover varied and spectacular mountain landscapes, from the time worn paths of the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp and onwards to the isolated and less frequented Renjo La region.
The team includes:
Three Passes Nepal Guiding Team
Trek Leader: Chhiring Sonam Sherpa
Assistant Trekking Guide: Tsering Wongchu Sherpa
Peter Lethbridge - New Zealand
Marc Calandrella - USA
Bernice Calandrella - USA
2 November 2022
Three Passes and Three Peaks Begin!
We are pleased to announce that the Nepal Three Passes and Three Peaks Expeditions are now underway! With the teams all arrived in Kathmandu ready to go, everyone has had their gear checked, enjoyed a team briefing and is excited to be here. Charles is our last team member to arrive and he will be arriving late tomorrow in time for our flight out to Lukla together.
Both the teams were welcomed at our traditional welcome dinner at our favourite restaurant, Le Sherpa. They’re scheduled for a city tour tomorrow. We will have a daily dispatch of these two wonderful trips. Please stay tuned. Thank you Chhiring and Da Jangbu.
Photos: (L) Team briefing and (R) Welcome dinner at the famous Le Sherpa Restaurant by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
3 November 2022
This morning both the Three Passes and Three Peaks team departed for a city tour, visiting two historic sites, Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO enlisted world heritage site which is tone of the largest stupa in the world and very popular with its beauty, serenity, and spirituality. Pashupatinath temple, also a UNESCO enlisted world’s heritage site and it’s regarded as one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for the Hindu devotees around the world. It’s also auspicious because Pashupatinath is considered as the protector of the universe and the patron deity of Nepali people.
Everyone is excited for our early morning helicopter flight tomorrow to Lukla, where we begin our trek with an easy 3 hour hike to the small village of Phakding (2,610m). Chhiring and Da Jangbu.
Photos: (L) Some of the team at Boudhanath Stupa, (Below) Marc taking photos of Boudhanath and the team at Pashupatinath by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
4 November 2022
Scenic Helicopter Flight to Lukla
The official first day of trekking starts with early morning pick up from the hotel and a drive to the domestic airport for our flight to Lukla. The weather was great. Without waiting long, bags were checked. It was a very smooth scenic flight through the beautiful Himalayan terrain with outstanding weather. We had our first glimpse of Everest and surrounding mountains which was just breathtaking.
We’re assisted by our porters and assistant Sherpa Sonam at the Lukla airport with our bags. Together with the Three Peaks team we had breakfast before heading to Phakding, our destination for the day. It was a short walk this afternoon through the Sherpa villages, crossing multiple long suspension bridges This area is considered as the main agricultural center of the Khumbu Valley with its warm weather through out the year. We stopped at Ghat for a short refreshment break before we arrived Phakding for lunch. The afternoon was well spent with some napping or wandering around town. We are heading to Namche Bazaar (3,440m) tomorrow and we will enter the national park area officially. Thank you for following. Team Three Passes from Phakding.
Photos: (R) Ready for take off from Kathmandu and (Below) The teams in Lukla ready to trek and Make way for Donkey's on the trail! by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
5 November 2022
Off to Namche Bazaar
As a daily routine, we pack our bags before sitting down for breakfast so that our porters can leave earlier and get to our destination on time. After breakfast, we started our day walking through the small town of Monjo and then officially entered the Sagarmatha (the Nepalese name for Everest) National Park and stopped at the small village of Jorsalle for lunch. After lunch the trail took us along the banks of Dudh Kosi River and crossing multiple swing bridges to the base of Namche Hill (2,950m). From here the trail went steadily up. Maintaining a slow pace is the most important thing that we did on this 300 vertical trail.
After a couple of hours of hiking, the welcoming sight of the natural amphitheater of Namche Bazaar revealed itself just in front of us, magnificent. After a must needed refreshments, most of us had pretty great afternoon resting and relaxing. We are having our first active rest day tomorrow. Will have some hiking to the neighboring villages as planed for acclimatization. Signing off from Namche Bazaar.
Photos: (L top) Crossing a suspension bridge enroute to Namche, (R) Climbing the infamous Namche Hill and Arriving in Namche by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
6 November 2022
Acclimatisation Day in Namche
Today was an active rest day, we headed out for a day hike to Khumjung (3,790m) after a hearty breakfast. The trail was gentle uphill until we spotted an outstanding views of Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and many other surrounding mountains from the hillside near Khumjung. We visited the first school ever built in Khumjung, the Hillary School, named for the late Sir Edmund Hillary who helped build it. After that we visited the Khumjung Monastery and admired the Yeti skull which has been kept since the 16th century. We then headed back to Namche via the Everest View Hotel. It was long but very productive day. Team members enjoyed the evening with a great night view of Namche at the coffee hub before sitting for dinner. We are heading to Phortse (3,800m) tomorrow. Thank you for following our journey.
Photos: (L) Hiking above Shyngboche to Khumjung, (Below) Hiking through dense rhododendron forest and The team at Khumjung with Ama Dablam in the distance by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
7 November 2022
Off to Tengboche
We woke up to another stunning day of weather here in Namche. Today the Three Passes trek and the Three Peaks expedition teams parted ways, the climbers taking the higher route over the Mong La and staying over night at Phortse (3,940m), while the trekkers took the main Everest Base Camp trail and stayed at Tengboche (3,860m). Tengboche is home to the biggest monastery in the Khumbu Valley, and it stands on the top of a hillside with spectacular views of surrounding mountains.
The trail first led us alongside a valley wall, high above the river before we walked down to Phunki Tenga, crossed a suspension bridge over the Dudh Koshi River for lunch and then climbed back up the Tengboche hill. We took the special route along the edge of the Tengboche, which is quiet as none of the other trekkers use it. Along the trail, we spotted herds of Himalayan Thar grassing in amongst the cliffs around the trail and also a female mask deer which is rare these days.
In the afternoon, we visited the monastery where all the monks were preparing for the biggest festival of the year, Mani Rimdu at the monastery. The sunset view over Everest, Ama Dablam and surrounding peaks was just outstanding. We are now getting closer to the alpine zone and we feel the temperature dropped down rapidly compared to Namche. Our plan for tomorrow is to continue further up the valley to Dingboche (4,410m).
Photos: (L top) The team admiring sunset views from Tengboche, (R) Sunset over Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse and (L) Magnificent Ama Dablam from Tengboche by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
8 November 2022
Off to the Alpine Zone
Another beautiful day to awaken to here at Tengboche. After breakfast, we walked through the dense forest of rhododendron and birch trees before crossing yet another suspension bridge over the Imja Khola (River). From here, the trail took us on a gentle uphill to Pangboche (3,940m), the first human settlement in the Khumbu Valley and home to the oldest monastery in the region. We then continued our walk to Shomare (4,040m) for lunch.
Leaving the tree line behind and couple of hours of walk later, we arrived at Dingboche (4,440m ). Everyone is feeling great at this altitude. A total lunar eclipse occurred this evening around 6pm right over Island Peak (6,160m). We observed it until it’s over and the process was just fantastic. We are going to have another active rest day here tomorrow which will definitely help us acclimatise further for our journey higher. Cheers from Dingboche!
Photos: (L) The team with Ama Dablam behind, (R) On the trail to Dingboche with Lhotse in the background and (Below) Island Peak visible from the window of our lodge by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
9 November 2022
Acclimatisation Hike to the Holy Site
Today being another active rest day, we woke up late in the morning for breakfast. Once again the weather seems to be another perfect day. After breakfast, we set out for a acclimatization hike above Dingboche where the holy sites, Nagazang stands at the altitude of 4,700m. This heritage site is popular for silent and fasting meditation among the devotees of the Upper Khumbu region, particularly during the fest held on the 6th month (English July) of the Tibetan lunar calendar. We also had our first glimpse of the magnificent Makalu (8,481m), the fifth highest in the world and surroundings, all of which are just breathtaking.
We spent few hours around the area before we walked back down to the lodge for lunch. The afternoon was well spent at the French bakery where Peter had the last piece of chocolate cake, whereas Marc and Bernice had their favorite; apple pie. We’re heading to Chhukung (4,750m) tomorrow, our home for next couple of days. Greeting from Dingboche, Chhiring, Marc, Bernice and Peter for AC’s Three Passes Trek.
Photos: (L Top) The team with Makalu in the distance, (R) Resting on the climb and (L) Dingboche village with Thamserku in the background by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
10 November 2022
Off to Chhukung
Our day started late this morning as we’ve a short day hike to Chhukung, a small village that is now pretty popular among the climbers heading further up the valley to climb Island Peak (6,160m). Peter, one of our team members, has climbed this peak twice before.
Even though the temperature drops down rapidly during the night , it warms up pretty quickly when the sun hits the valley. We had our breakfast in front of the lodge in the sun, which was pretty awesome. The trail that takes us to Chhukung was gently uphill through the valley. After lunch, Bernice thought we haven’t had enough steps today, so decided to do a gentle hike over the ridge of Chhukung village gaining few hundred meters. We had a great evening and are very excited for one of our first hikes over 5,000 meters tomorrow, which will be Chhukung Ri (5,550m), so early to bed. Greetings from Chhukung.
Photos: (L) Chhukung Village and (R) The team in front of Island Peak by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
11 November 2022
It was a very beautiful day to start our hike to Chhukung Ri this morning. Along the trail, we walked along with herds of yaks that were just let out for grassing towards the hillside of the town. A very well defined trail took us to the saddle like section between lower Chhukung Ri (5,350m) and main one (5,550m). It is often used as an acclimatisation trip for people going on to climb Island Peak (6,160m). We hiked towards the main Ri (peak) along the ridge on a rocky trail. Right below the summit was an extreme section, so we decided not to go all way and stopped at the altitude of 5415m. We found very nice spot to relax and have our own kind of mini picnic, thanks to our assistant guide Sonam for bringing lemon ginger tea (our favorite drink of the trip). We spent several minutes enjoying snacks and the hot tea in a very calm weather. We then descended quickly to the town before the wind hit the hill.
It was really a long and hard day but it pays off at the end of the day. Early to bed this evening as we are heading to Lobuche (4,910m) via our first and the highest Pass Kongma La (5,535m) tomorrow. Marc, Bernice and Peter sending their warmest greetings to all of you.
Photos: (L) Hiking towards Chhukung Ri and (Below) Picnic at 5,415m and Relaxing with views of Nuptse and Lhotse in the distance by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
12 November 2022
Kongma La Crossing
We started our day early as today would be the longest day of the whole trip. After breakfast, we headed west out of the village, crossed a small creek and picked up the trail. It was a cold morning at first, but we felt warm as soon as the sun hit the valley. The trail mostly defined gentle uphill until we get to one section where it was pretty exposed.
Finally, after nearly five and a half hours of hiking, we reach the large crystal clear blue lake directly below the pass. We had our lunch brought from the lodge here at the lakeside, in very calm and warm weather. From here, the pass appears to be an incredibly huge vertical distance above where we are now.
After lunch , the first few minutes was a gentle walk towards the pass but it soon comes to a very exposed area where we should be really careful. YES, we finally made it to the Kongma La (5,530m) pass. The weather was just amazing. We spent some time taking photos, celebrating our first conquer of the highest pass among the three passes and then descended towards Lobuche (4,900m). The trail from here is mostly steep sections of scree and boulder, and we all felt that coming up this side of the pass would be whole lot harder. Half way through the knee cracking trail, we met our super porters, Jiten and Kancha with a big pot of hot lemon tea which gave us the extra energy to cross the mighty Khumbu Glacier. Huge thanks to them.
The trail through the Khumbu Glacier wasn’t that pleasant, as we had to navigate through huge boulder and loose rocks. It could be easier if this trail was be the beginning of the trip, but we’re all tired and felt this part of the trek was tough. It has taken us nearly ten and half hours, the longest day of the trip so far – but we have finally made it to Lobuche!
We are now closer to Everest Base Camp . All very tired, had dinner and straight to bed. We are heading to Gorak Shep (5,160m) tomorrow.
Greetings from Lobuche.
Photos: (Top L) Climbing the slopes above Chhukung towards the Kongma La, (Top R) The lake just below Kongma La, (L) on Kongma La and (R) Crossing the glacier to Lobuche by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
13 November 2022
Kala Patar Spectacular!
Yesterday being long and hard day, we all were very exhausted and started our day to Gorek Shep late. By the time we were done with breakfast, the sun was already shining and temperatures had warmed. The first leg of the trail was a gentle and comfortable ascent, until we get to the section where the trail goes straight up. Marc and Bernice had their first stretch exercises in weeks. It definitely loosened the stiff muscles and helps make the walk easier.
To avoid the crowd and dust, we took the alternative trail (Chhiring’s private) that no one else uses, it was very quiet compared to the busy main trail. As soon as the trail joins at Khumbu Glacier, it gets busier again as the trail narrows even more. We ran into the Three Peaks team along the glacier trail, it was really nice to catch up with them. We soon arrived Gorak Shep (5,165m) and had lunch. We’ve planned to climb Kala Patar, but due to tiredness from yesterday, Marc and Bernice opted not to go. Peter and Sonam hiked to Kala Patar, while Marc, Bernice and I hiked to AC’s luxury camp site for the best view of Everest and Nuptse. We even hiked further up, making a traverse towards the Kala Patar main trail and sat for a perfect sunset view over Mt Everest, and other adjacent peaks. It has been a perfect weather throughout the trek so far and we are hoping it stays the same for the rest of our trek.
We then came down to our lodge and waited for Peter and Sonam to return before having dinner. They had the best time as well up there. Our next mission is to Everest Base Camp (5,364m) tomorrow and descend to Lobuche for overnight. Chhiring for the Three Passes team.
Photos: (L) Stretch and climb! Marc and Bernice prepare for the uphill climb to come, (R) Peter, Bernice and Marc trekking alongside the Khumbu Glacier near Gorak Shep and (Below) Bernice enjoying the views and Bernice and Marc under Everest's sunset glow by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
14 November 2022
Everest Base Camp
We started our day with a chilly morning breakfast before heading out on today's trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC). Surprisingly it was windy this morning while walking through the dry sand area of Gorak Shep, but it was then calm within minutes and we were lucky to have warm weather thereafter.
We hiked through the rocks and boulders along a narrow pathway before we reached the moraine from where we can see amazing scenery looking up the mighty Khumbu Glacier. In the pre-monsoon we would see hundreds of colorful tents beautifully pitched, but since there aren't any climbing expeditions on Everest during winter, we can only see the strings of prayer flags that adorn the huge boulder that has “Everest Base Camp 5364m” written in red ink. During the the pre monsoon season, Adventure Consultants trekkers have a privilege to spent one night at their EBC camp and get an opportunity to know the expedition lifestyle of the climbers.
From EBC, we have close up views of Khumbu Icefall, one of the first obstacles that climbers have to go through multiple times before they go for their summit push. It is jaw dropping and we can imagine how hard it is to go through this path.
There are a few trekkers ahead of us taking pictures, so we had another snack picnic in our style while we wait our turn to take photos. After taking few pictures and wandering around, enjoying the scenery and quiet. We then walked down to Gorak Shep for lunch and then further down to Lobuche for the night. The trail through the Khumbu Glacier wasn’t as busy as yesterday, as most of the trekkers arrived to Gorak Shep earlier in the day. It was indeed a very pleasant walk. We are heading to Dzongla (4,830m) tomorrow, which is our last stop before our second pass, the Cho La (5,420m).
Team Three Passes signing off from Lobuche.
Photos: The team at Everest Base Camp by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
15 November 2022
Towards the Cho La
Today was another short day, so we relaxed with a late breakfast, before packing our duffel and then starting our walk towards Zonglha (Dzongla) at around 9:30am. The trail headed south of Lobuche on the main Everest Base Camp trail that splits at a fork, right to the Cho La pass and left to Dhugla Pass (the standard route to EBC), where the memorial park made in homage to lost mountaineers on Everest or other peaks in the Everest region is located. Even though the monument park is off the road for us, we have decided to visit the park and pay tribute to those fallen climbers who have set many examples to the mountaineering community. We have wandered around the park for awhile and then headed back to catch our main trail to Cho La by crossing a small creek and then climbing straight up. From here, the well-defined trail curves west and offers awesome views of Cholatse (6,335 m), and Taboche (6,495m) straight in front of us, whereas in the bottom is the emerald lake, Cho La lake sits, and it is breathtaking. If you turn back and look straight, there is an outstanding view of Pumori, Lingtren, Lolha, Nuptse and Lhotse which is also just amazing.
We arrived at Zhonglha (Dzongla) (4,830m) by lunch time. We took an afternoon nap and relaxed. We are anticipating great weather for our second pass, the Cho La (5,420m) tomorrow and further more to Dragnag (4,700m) for the night. So early dinner, early to bed. It's a big day tomorrow! Chhiring for the Three Passes team.
Photos: (L) Cholatse, with the emerald blue Cho La Lake below, (Below) The team at the Everest Memorial Park and Stunning views of Pumori and the surrounding mountains alongside the Khumbu Glacier by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
16 November 2022
Mission Cho La
Today we woke up early for breakfast and started our day earlier than usual, as today would be another longer day to go over the Cho La Pass. Soon after breakfast, we started heading northwest of the village. The morning was cold but as soon as the sun hit the valley, it started to warming up. We walked a long section through a wide defined trail to the end of the valley. From here, we hiked up steep switchbacks toward the pass. Most of the trails that we have already walked on the Kongma La or Kala Patar were marked with rock cairns to aid with navigation while in snowy conditions, but here there are metal poles that are bolted well on the boulders, which I thought a great idea. We stopped at the top of the flattened rocky hill side for snack break. Looking back toward the valley we had just walked up, there were outstanding view of Ama Dablam and Cholatse was just amazing.
After a break we continued our way forward, soon we arrived at the bottom of huge snow field section where we put on microspikes (also called yak track) to stop from slipping on the ice. The ice section is incredibly slippery and definitely needed the microspikes. We saw many people, specifically the porters were having hard time going through that slippery section. We did help with a Porter from another group who had a big load on his back and without any proper equipment by carrying his load to safer place. It'can be a dangerous path and one can fall and land into the glacial lake if you do not use safety precautions.
We then followed the slippery trail uphill through the snow field. It was really warm and everyone enjoyed walking on snow. The rocky approach section of the pass was set up with a steel cable fixed line on the steep sections, which makes it easier and safer to get to the pass. Yes, we made it our second pass of the trip, CHO LA PASS (5,420m). We’re all excited! The weather has been sunny and beautiful. No wind. We sat for awhile having our second snacks, taking photos and watching other trekkers celebrating their arrival to the top of the pass from either side.
We soon began our descent towards Dragnag (4,700m). This part of the trail was through steep loose gravel and rock which was again set up- with a cable fixed line. We walked slowly, shuffling our way through the rock. The fixed line would be very convenient with snowy conditions but we can still hold onto it to be safer and walk faster even without snow. When we eventually made our way out of the steepest section, there was still quite a bit of a boulder section before we got to a grassy slope. We stopped for our lunch, relaxed before we headed uphill to the ridge of Dragnag. Soon enough, the trail was all downhill, following the riverside through a narrow gorge into Dragnag. We’re treated with mini sauna before we sit for dinner. It was an another long day but we’re all happy that we made it in great shape. Tomorrow we’re heading to Gokyo (4,790m), a village of beautiful lakes.
Greetings from Three Passes Trek Team
Photos: (Top Centre) On the Cho La (Top L) Bernice with views of Ama Dablam and Cholatse behind, (Top R) Mircospikes! (Middle L) Climbing the icy slopes to the Cho La, (R) Descending with the aid of a cable and steps and (L) The team on the Cho La snowfield by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
17 November 2022
Through the Ngozumba Glacier to the Lake city, Gokyo
Today being a shorter trek, as usual we started late. It was freezing cold this morning. By the time we were ready the sun had hit the town and felt great walking in a warm sunny day. The trail took us between the huge rock wall towering above Dragnag to the right and Ngozumba glacial moraine to the left. Ngozumba Glacier is considered as the longest glacier in the Himalaya, it is formed directly below the slopes of Cho Oyu (8,201m) the sixth-highest mountain in the world. As soon as we reached the ridge of Ngozumba glacial moraine, the trail drops steeply down and takes you around slopes of rocks and boulders.
There are many glacier lakes formed along the path. We stopped at a few to toss rocks into the lakes, laugh and have fun. Passing through the Ngozumba Glacier was astounding and we can’t take our eyes from the surrounding views as well as the cracking sound of the glacier movement. The trail through the glacier was again marked well with cairns which is very helpful navigating the trails into this gigantic glacier. Bernice thought she was walking in the moon and thought it went on forever. I always say “IT’S JUST TWO MINUTES ROUND THE CORNER”. Laughed and continued our walk.
We stopped several times taking photos and enjoying the views. As soon as we’re done with glacial path, the steep climb through rocky terrain begins. This was not only the hardest uphill of the day but also the highly risky, with the danger of falling rock from the walls towering above us. Taking extra precautions, we eventually emerging upon a grassy hillside and there was the first view of the majestic turquoise-colored Gokyo Lake and the village itself at the altitude of 4,790m situated on the bank of the majestic lake. From here, the steep trail of Gokyo Ri (5,357m) is visible on the northern side of the town which we will be climbing tomorrow.
After lunch we enjoyed taking a long hot shower, the first after almost two weeks! We relaxed, read books, napped and of course snapped some more pictures of the lake from the balcony of our lodge. The lodge, Thanka Inn is perhaps one of the warmest lodges we have satyed at and is situated just by the lake. We’re all relaxed and anticipating an another great day of weather to climb Gokyo Ri tomorrow. Thank you all for following our adventures through the Dispatch.
Photos: (Top L) The team on the Ngozumba Glacier with Cho Oyu in the distance, (Top R) Throwing rocks into lakes never gets old, (Bottom L) At last Gokyo Village comes into view, with the trail to Gokyo Ri visible on the left and Cho Oyu to the right and (R) Climbing the steep moraine wall to Gokyo Village by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
18 November 2022
The Final Pass - Renjo La
Our day started with an early morning breakfast at the beautiful Gokyo, in the warm and cozy lodge. We set out for Renjo La, crossing the rock bridge and walked along the northern shore of the lake. There was a duck in the lake swimming alongside us and making quacking sound, which was pretty cool, and the warm sun made our first walk through the hill pleasant. There were a few icy sections (ice formed by the water leaked from a pipe) where we had to be careful. Once past the lake, the trail begins to climb steeply up. It was very warm and we’d to taken off layers to ease the climb. The top section of this steep hill has a flattened landscape, which could be the world's best camping spot for the exceptional view of Everest and surrounding mountains, as well as the perfect view of the Gokyo Lake with village and the gigantic glacier in the background. From the end of this flattened section, the trail remains gradual, climbing up, cutting though the rocks until it's almost directly below Renjo La. As the other two passes that we’ve done, the trail to the pass was a steep climb, with the huge rocky peak towering directly above us. With nice and careful climbing, finally, HERE WE ARE AT THE TOP OF OUR FINAL PASS, RENJO LA (5,360m). We were all excited, felt great and happy that we’ve done all the three passes in our own style without any problems. The weather, health and everything has been favorable for our journey.
After spending several minutes taking photos, having snacks we then descended quickly towards Lungden (4,360m). The trail from the pass was remarkably constructed with a large stairway through the rock which made the descent a lot easier. As soon as we were done with the stairway, there was beautiful emerald colored frozen lake on the right fork. We had our lunch before the trail meets the valley floor. Even though it’s all downhill, we were all exhausted and slowed down our walk. With a zombie style walk, we eventually got to Lungden in time. Soon after we arrived, we’d the best banana bread sent to us by my brother who runs a lodge at Machermo. It’s internet free zone (no communication or network connection at this town). Good thing that we’re all tired and off the gadgets at least for a day! We’re now closer to the civilization. Thame is our next destination without thinking of high passes anymore. Thank you all for your wishes and prayers for our incredible journey this far.
Photos: (Top L) Steep climb to Renjo La with spectacular views in the background, (R) Through the rocky trail to the Renjo La, (L) The team on the Renjo La, (Below) The well maintained stairway descending off the pass, A lunch break along the way, and Perfect views of Everest high above Gokyo Lake by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
19 November 2022
Into Thick Air
With the great relief of finishing all the three passes and exhaustion, we awoke late this morning. After breakfast, we set out for Thame (3,840m). The trail from here on is mostly downhill. We crossed the Bhote Koshi River which flows from the Nangpa La, a border between Tibet and Nepal. We then walked through the small settlement with high stone walls which basically separates the property lines and stopping yaks from jumping over to eat the crops, mainly potatoes and hay. Despite the changes in architecture, due to the modernization of buildings through out Khumbu, there are still few traditional Sherpa houses spotted along the trail.
The trail infrastructure is becoming wide and well maintained. It felt really great waking through the juniper and rhododendron trees after almost couple of weeks of being in the alpine zone. The air is thicker, our lungs are getting more oxygen, our legs are getting lighter and making the walk easier. Thus, Peter and Marc tried carry porter’s load, “it’s an experience how the load being carried on their forehead” Marc stated.
We arrived in Thame, which used to be a old main trading hub between Tibet and the Khumbu. It’s now considered as the home of the best mountaineers, such as Tenzing Norgay (first to summit Everest), Kami Rita (26 times Everest summits) and many of those who have climbing records of 15 or more summits. It’s a privilege to visit and spent a night here. We had the best afternoon rest after many days and pleased that we're the only trekkers staying at the lodge tonight. Namche Bazar would be our destination tomorrow. Greeting from AC Three Passes Trek.
Photos (Top L) Stone walls near Thame, (R) Traditional Sherpa house, (L) Sunset over Thamserku from Thame and (Below) Peter and Marc trying to carry the porter load! by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
20 November 2022
Off to the Sherpa Capital, Namche Bazaar
Very beautiful morning here at Thame, where the sun rises in the valley much earlier comparative to other areas that we have visited on this trek so far. After breakfast in the courtyard of the lodge, we started our walk directly down to the Bhote Koshi river, which flows its way through a very narrow gorge. After crossing the suspension bridge, the trail continues gently uphill through the juniper trees, passing through a small Sherpa town of Samde (3,500m). Looking down the valley by the bank of the Bhote Koshi river, herds of Himalayan Thar were spotted, along with with Naks (female of yak) and other domestic cattle. The view of Thamserku (6,608m), Kusum Khang Karu (6,367m) along with Konde (6,011m) peaks were just fabulous.
We soon arrived Thamo (3,460m), another Sherpa village where the beautiful recently renovated Tibetan Nunnery monastery is located. We visited it and bought a few souvenirs to support the monastery which basically runs with sponsorships from outsiders. We were offered a tea which was very fascinating. After bidding farewell, we continued our walked through the village with many colorful Mani walls and into the birch and rhododendron trees. The walk itself was very peaceful as there are not many of trekkers or other people besides a few yak herders coming from other directions. After crossing Theso (small Sherpa settlement) and its river, there was the worshiping place of Khumbu-Yulla (a protector deity of the Khumbu Valley). The stream water here is considered as holy water and people of these area purify themselves by spreading it around their body or on or around their forehead.
There after the landscape of the forest in the area changes to a dense forest of pines and juniper. It was very beautiful and pleasant walk through the trees, as over the last 12 days we have walked mostly through rocks, sand, glaciers, and a landscape of boulders and alpine shrubs. I would say we’re back in an environment of green life! Many Himalayan blue poppy (Irish blue flowers) were seen blooming along the side of the trail. We arrived at Namche at around lunch time. It was great afternoon with proper shower, few laundry to be done and wandering around the town. After dinner, we’d a celebration of completing all of the Everest high passes (the three passes) in very great shape and perfect weather by cutting a celebration cake. It was delicious and we appreciated the cooks at Khumbu Lodge making it.
We now have only a couple of days left before returning to Kathmandu. Tomorrow we’re heading to Phakding, the town where we pent our first night at the beginning of the trek. We’re sort of excited to cross all those suspension bridges again on the way down!
Signing off from Namche Bazaar, Chhiring and the Three Passes team.
Photos: (Top R) Crossing a suspension bridge over the Bhote Koshi River, (Top R) A nun blowing into a conch to start the morning prayer session, (R) Himalayan Blue Poppy, (L) Yaks on the trail between Thame and Namche, (Below) Purifying with holy water, Trekking through dense forest of pine and juniper, Arriving in Namche at last, Celebrating with cake and Three happy trekkers! by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
21 November 2022
Downhill to Phakding
Absolutely fine weather, yet again this morning at Namche. Our walk begun through the town, mostly past shops similar to Thamel in Kathmandu, in a chill weather and then started a direct downhill where we passed through a permit checkpoint where we picked up a bag of recycling trash that needed to be dropped off in Lukla. We support an organization called Sagarmatha Next, who collect the recyclable trash from around the Everest region and makes beautiful souvenirs. Our team has bought few of them when we visited their center located right above Namche and along the side of the small airstrip, Shyangboche. This is a great initiative to keep the Khumbu region clean for generations to come.
We stopped a quarter of the way through the knee cracking Namche hill to observe the mighty Everest for the last time - until we’re back again. The trail here on begun zigzagging downhill to the bottom of the Namche hill and it winds up through the bankd of Dudh Koshi River. Crossing multiple suspension bridges and walking back through the National park entry gate, we soon arrived at Monjo for refreshments. The trail here after was jammed with hundreds of mules carrying supplies. They’re the main means of transportation to the people of the upper Khumbu. We took an alternative trail to visit one of the oldest monasteries in the area, Rimijung Gompa. The view of Towche and Cholatse along with Thamsekru from here was magnificent. Seems like the main season is going to be over soon as we found few people in the lodge when we arrived (it's supposed to be a busy lodge here at Phakding). Tomorrow will be the last destination (Lukla) before we get to the city. Cheers from the Three Passes Team.
Photos: (L) Stupa with Thamserku behind, (R) Mules on the trail and (Below) Bernice at the Rimijung monastery with Konde Ri in the background and Farmers near the Rimijung Monastery by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
22 November 2022
Last Day Trekking
Our last day trekking to Lukla started late as it is only a short walk this morning. After a hearty breakfast, we walked through the village of Phakding which consists mostly of lodges and shops. We took again an alternative route, that was the original trail that Hillary and Tenzing used when they first came to Khumbu. We took an old bridge at the end of the town to the right bank of Dudh Koshi river towards some small Sherpa settlements untouched by the modern trekkers. Here they are preserving the old path, as well as Mani walls, which are seemingly hundreds of years old. Along the way, we spotted traditional water mills which are made with locally available materials. They have a wooden turbine and wooden blades that rotate while water flows and the rotating stone grinds grains mostly corn, millet and barley. We met the owner there waiting for millet to be ground. This kind of traditional watermill are now being replaced by electric mills in most places.
We then walked through the old town, crossing a suspension bridge that took us back to the main route to Lukla. The last hill to Lukla at the end of the walk was pretty tiring but it was all forgotten once we reached the entry gate of Lukla where we dropped off the trash bags that were picked up yesterday at Namche. Great cause, happy us. Then we strolled through the town to our lodge. After lunch, we were all free to wander around the town. The evening was different than usual as we all (porters, team members and assistant) sat together for dinner to honour our hard working porters. Hats off to them.
Thank you again all for following our adventure through the dispatch. Signing off from Three Passes.
Chhiring and the Team.
Photos: (Top R) The Dudh Koshi River looking up towards Namche, (Top L) Ancient mani walls, (R) Walking through the old town, (L) Inside the traditional water mill with its owner waiting for millet to grind, (Below) A refreshment break, Crossing an old suspension bridge, A traditional wooden bridge and Dropping off the rubbish in Lukla by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
23 November 2022
Wrapping up this wonderful trek
Another perfect weather for our helicopter scenic flight back to Kathmandu. It has been one of the best treks, in terms of weather, health and the coordination of all team members into the Everest high passes for almost three weeks. We’re excited, thrilled and of course happy to be back to Kathmandu now.
At the beginning of this trip, the helicopter ride was highly praised by Marc and Bernice for whom it was a first time experience, and by Peter on his 5th time visiting Nepal. Crossing numerous suspension bridges, walking through the dense Sherpa settlements along with beautifully crafted mani walls and climbing 500m of zigzagging infamous Namche hills before getting to the self owned Sherpa capital of the Khumbu, standing seemingly in open air amphitheater, we arrived at Namche Bazaar (3,400m). The next couple of days were religiously important sites to visit such as Khumjung Monastery having a long history of 300 years, along with infamous Yeti Scalp, the biggest monastery at Tengboche and then the oldest monastery at Pangboche before entering the Imja valley and into the alpine zone.
Imja valley is mostly famous for climbers who wanted to scale beautiful Island Peak (6,160m). Our first pass, the Kongma La (5,530m) was the highest pass and the longest day with mighty Khumbu Glacier to cross before we rejoined entered the trail to Everest Base Camp (EBC). EBC (5,364m) and the adjacent climb of Kala Patar (5,555m) are most of the regions visitors ultimate destination and we did it in our own style before we set out for our second pass, the Cho La (5,420m). Relatively easier compared to the Kongma La, but we had to use microspikes to climb through the gigantic snow fields.
We can’t forget the lunch and snacks picnics along the way and of course the weather, it has been spectacular. As soon as we arrived at Gokyo Valley, the landscape changed, with many beautiful turquoise colored lakes and the exceptional view of Everest and the surroundings peaks from Gokyo Ri (5,365m) was mind blowing. One should detour this valley if they’re doing EBC trek! You can explore more exciting things in Gokyo if they’ve extra time (hiking fifth and sixth lakes, circumambulate the lakes). The final pass, Renjo La (5,360m) was the most amazing place with the world, with best view of Everest and its neighboring peaks as well as Nangpa and Gaurishankar valley peaks. Considerably the easiest among the three passes, having the well maintained trail and the scenery of many beautiful lakes.
The Thame valley which is culturally rich, home of many renowned Sherpa mountaineers and the valley expanded to the Nangpa La (border between Tibet and the Khumbu) were very quiet and peaceful areas before we merged our trail again with Everest main trail at Namche.
During this trip, the lowest elevation we slept was Phakding (2,610m), (the first night and 2nd last night), and the highest elevation was Gorak Shep (5,165m). The highest elevation to hike and back was Kala Patar (5,555m) whereas the highest pass we’ve done was Kongma La (5,530m). We’ve covered almost 110km in three weeks by taking the anti clockwise route which helps you acclimatise well before you’re ready to do the passes (some people take the clockwise route, but the altitude gains are excessive on this route at the beginning of trek). I’m very thankful to our team members whom followed the instructions that were given, isolating themselves when it’s needed and keeping the same pace through out the trip. Most importantly, they agreed with my decisions to explore many untouched secret trails of mine, by taking extra miles, exploring the ancient trail and town even though they’re tired, but still interested to do so.
The wonderful Three Passes concludes with a successful trip. We thank you all for your support and prayer. If you want to enjoy the experience the way we have done, please sign up with Adventure Consultants. Until next time, Chhiring.
Photos: A selection of pictures from throughout the journey - (Top L) A chilly morning in Lukla prior to the flight back to Kathmandu, (Top R) The trail to Phakding, day 1 of the trek, (Middle L) Bernice enjoying a scenic refreshment stop near Gokyo, (R) One of the traditional water mills near Thame and (L) Sunset over Everest by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.
(Below) Crossing the Cho La, Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Lake, Hiking to Renjo La, Namche bridge, Stupa near Thame, Hiking near Thame, Capturing views from Gokyo Ri and the Team on the Kongma La by Chhiring Sonam Sherpa.