The Everest 3 Passes trek is the epitome of true trekking in Nepal. It's a long and arduous journey that combines some of the highest mountain passes in the world with the Everest Base Camp Trek, Gokyo Lakes Trek and two other treks in the lower Khumbu region.
If you want to describe the Everest 3 Passes Trek in one word, it's – EPIC!
ON THE TREK
Three Passes is a challenging trek that demands endurance and perseverance of the highest order to complete successfully, without losing your sanity. It circles the Everest region and takes around 20 days.
The trail for the trek is a fairly easy one, except for the three passes – Kongma La, Cho La and Renjo La – some of the highest mountain passes in the world, lying high above the 5000m mark!
The highest elevation trekkers have to march through is 5535m at Kongma La, first of the three passes.
For lovely weather and incredible unobstructed views of the Himalayas, the best time to take on this adventurous journey is March to May and October to November.
The Everest 3 Passes trek cannot be a solo trekking trip!
You have to have a guide / porter with you, as there are many places in the remote parts of the Himalayas you'd trek through with no emergency facilities. A guide / porter would be crucial for bailing you out in case you are faced with some trouble in the middle of nowhere.
This trek can be enjoyed as a tea-house trek or camping trek or it can be mixed up too. You'll also have to buy plenty of food along the trail at lodges and guest-houses, and carry enough water or means to purify the water from streams before you cross the passes.
Each pass is crossed in one long and tiring day!
So, it is hard with respect to altitude and trekkers have to be extra careful in regard to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and not get injured while on the trek.
For good acclimatization, this trek starts from Lukla, goes on to Dingboche and Chhukung, crosses Kongma La at 5535m to Lobuche, then onto Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, crossing the second pass – Cho La at 5420m to reach Gokyo, and onto the final pass of the trek – Renjo La at 5345m, then making way towards Thame, and back to Namche, finally ending at Lukla.
Trekkers are required to obtain TIMS card (Trekkers' Information Management System) and Sagarmatha National Park entrance fees that will be checked on many points of the trek.
TENZING HILLARY AIRPORT
Trekkers can bag the claim to have been on a scenic flight to and from Lukla that has a heart-stopping effect on passengers while landing and taking off from one of the most dangerous airports in the world – the Tenzing Hillary Airport aka Lukla Airport.
Everyone onboard, even the daredevil pilots start praying to the mountain gods for a safe landing and take-off, on the tiny strip of flat surface (or what they call a runway!), On top of a cliff with a mountain on one end and a 1000m drop on the other!
The airport was previously called Lukla Airport until it was changed in January 2008 in honor of the first climbers of Mt. Everest: Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.
This air-field is like a gateway for most trekkers and mountain climbers for their endeavor in the Everest region.
SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK
Sagarmatha National Park was established in the year 1976 AD and has an area of 1148 sq. km. It houses 118 species of birds and numerous rare mammals such as Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Red Panda and Himalayan Wolves. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 AD.
EVEREST BASE CAMP
The base camp (5340m) looks like nothing more than a settlement of tents, situated at the bottom of Khumbu Icefall.
It has a fascinating atmosphere though, with trekkers and climbers having fun with decks of cards, books, guitars and food. In the middle of nowhere, there's a mobile bakery, serving apple pies believed to be the best found in Nepal. And of course, there's also limited mountain views, including the obstructed Everest.
Two hours of hike to Kala Patthar (5545m) positions trekkers to have a 360 degree jaw-dropping panoramic view of Mt. Pumori (7165 m), Lobuche West (6145 m), Nuptse Nup II (7742 m), Mt. Lhotse (8516 m), Mt. Everest (8848 m), Mt. Changtse (7543 m) and Lobhuche West (6145m) along with Khumbu glacier and Lho La, a pass connecting Nepal and Tibet (China).
The view of Everest from this spot is so flawless that Italian scientists have installed 'Mount Everest Webcam' as a part of the Everest Share 2011 research project. The camera is used to capture video footage of the summit to gather information regarding climate change.
Hike up to Gokyo Ri for spectacular panoramic views of the Himalayas – Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cholatse and Taboche along with Ngozumpa Glacier, Gokyo village and Dudh Pokhari.
A chance to explore the surroundings of Thonak Tsho and Ngozumpa Tsho . And if you have an extra day or two, add the sixth lake in the Gokyo Lake System – Gyazumba Tsho .
Scoundrel's Viewpoint , for excellent views of Cho Oyu and upper part of Ngozumpa Glacier. To the east are amazing views of the north face of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Makalu.
A visit to Pangboche Monastery , the oldest monastery in Khumbu region, founded in 17th century by the prestigious, Lama Sange Dorje. The other interesting fact about the monastery is that it used to house a skull and a hand of an alleged yeti, which were stolen in 1991. Plentiful of artifacts, murals, stats, Buddhist dance masks are also preserved here.
The largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Khumbu region, Tengboche Monastery also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, built-in 1916 by Lama Gulu, is said to have strong links to its mother monastery, the Rongbuk Monastery in Tibet.
Experience the unique Sherpa culture and hospitality along with learning a few values of Tibetan Buddhism.
What lures adventurers for the Everest 3 Passes trek is not only the chance of crossing some of the highest passes in the world, but also being able to take on some of the world best treks – the Everest Base Camp trek, which has you standing at the foot of the breathtaking Everest – the world's highest mountain, and the Gokyo Lakes trek, that has out-of-this-world views of the turquoise waters and the Himalayas!
Trekking across the three passes may not require mountaineering expertise, but it certainly is not an easy feat. It is a monstrous undertaking reserved only for the daring souls.
Everest 3 Passes trek is undoubtedly the best trek for thrill seekers!