Everest Three Passes Trek Itinerary Overview
Duration: Approximately 16 to 21 days
Total Altitude Gain: 8495 meters
Maximum Altitude Attained: 5643 meters (Kala Patthar)
Level of Challenge: Considered Difficult
Initiating Point: Lukla (elevation: 2,850 meters)
Point: Lukla (elevation: 2,850 meters)
Required Licences: Permit for Sagarmatha National Park, Khumbu Rural Municipality Permit (Exclusive to Non-Nepali Trekkers)
Geographic Area: Situated in Sagarmatha National Park within the Himalayan Region
Key Highlights: Encompasses Three Renowned Passes - Kongma La, Cho La, Renjo La
Highlights of the Everest Three Passes Trek
Navigating the High Suspension Bridge
Breathtaking panoramas of the renowned Himalayan peak
Exploring ancient Buddhist monasteries, home to the preserved Yeti Skull
Exploring the native land of the Sherpa community, Buddhist people, and their charming villages along the trail
Accomplishing a demanding route
Exploring a less congested trekking path within the Everest region
Transversing the three high passes above 5000m - Renjo La, Cho La, Kongma La
Captivating vistas from the Three Passes
Ascending and descending through dense forests of Rhododendrons, fir, and pine
Engaging in an adventurous and picturesque mountain flight to and from Lukla
Passing by various Buddhist monuments and Gumbas
Embarking on a trek towards the base of the world's tallest and most iconic peak, Mt. Everest
Admiring the splendor of the Gokyo Lakes, featuring ten stunning glaciers
Gaining insight into rural lifestyles
Immersing oneself in the Sherpa way of life for three weeks
What Are The Everest Three Passes Trek?
The Three Passes Trek stands as a renowned and demanding trekking path situated within Nepal's Everest region. This trail is distinguished by the crossing of three towering mountain passes, all-surpassing an elevation of 5,000 meters. The trek derives its name from these "Three High Passes," which trekkers must conquer to complete the circuit. These passes provide a notably tougher yet immensely rewarding challenge compared to the more frequently traversed Everest Base Camp Trek. This trek presents a formidable and iconic route in Nepal's Everest region. It entails crossing three major mountain passes, each situated at an altitude exceeding 5,000 meters. These passes are named Kongma La, Cho La, and Renjo La. The journey takes adventurers through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Himalayas, offering spectacular vistas of renowned peaks such as Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, and more.
Kongma La Pass
The Three Passes Trek in the Everest region is a thrilling adventure that takes trekkers through three challenging high mountain passes. The first pass, Kongma La at an elevation of 5535 meters, offers an exhilarating and scenic walk. The morning mist gives way to the sunlight's rays, creating a captivating visual phenomenon. The trek commences from Nepal's capital, featuring a scenic mountain flight to Lukla and guiding through the picturesque Himalayan landscape, cultural villages, and valleys. Notable highlights include Namche Bazar, the Sherpa capital and Everest region gateway; Tengboche, home to the largest monasteries in the Khumbu region; and Kalapathar, an attractive viewpoint offering direct views of the world's highest peaks like Mt. Everest, Makalu, Cho Oyu, and Lhotse. Kongma La Pass presents awe-inspiring vistas of towering mountains and complements the striking blue lake. Its panoramic views rival those from Kalapathar, positioned above the Khumbu glacier opposite Lobuche in the Everest region.
Chola La Pass
The second pass, Chola La at 5360 meters, lies in the Solukhumbu district along the Gokyo trail in the Khumbu region. This demanding trek offers captivating views of renowned peaks and key locations such as Lukla, Namche Bazar, and Tengboche. The route follows the Dudh Koshi rivers, leading to Namche Bazar and onward to the Gokyo valley, affording majestic views from Gokyo Ri and Kalapathar. This journey encompasses charming villages, monasteries, waterfalls, and unique landscapes, all accompanied by stunning vistas of iconic peaks. Chola La Pass offers breathtaking perspectives of Gokyo Ri Pass, Khumbu Glacier, and the world's highest mountain.
Renjo La Pass
The third pass, Renjo La, unveils the remote and naturally rich area of the Khumbu region. Renjo La Pass takes trekkers through the pristine Gokyo lakes, traversing culturally rich villages and Himalayan landscapes. This strenuous trek begins with an adventurous flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, leading through lush rhododendron and fir forests. Renjo La Pass presents astounding mountain and lake views, including Mt. Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Makalu. The trek also offers insights into the Sherpa culture, tradition, and the wildlife and flora of the Sagarmatha National Park. Renjo La's less-crowded route is ideal for nature enthusiasts seeking solace and a profound connection to the Himalayan environment.
The Three Passes Trek is well-known for its challenging characteristics, attributed to its high elevations, steep uphill and downhill stretches, and ever-changing weather patterns. Participants can anticipate breathtaking mountain panoramas, traversing a range of terrains, immersing themselves in Sherpa communities, exploring historic monasteries, and engaging with the local culture. This remarkable journey offers a holistic discovery of the Everest region, blending the highlights of popular trails with less-frequented paths.
Everest Three Passes Trek Itinerary
Here is the day-to-day itinerary for the Three Passes Trek, guiding you through various villages in the region and offering additional day hikes. Keep in mind that there isn't a universal itinerary that suits everyone. The journey can be customized in several ways, but I believe this suggested plan is an excellent starting point.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2: Trek Preparations
Day 3: Fly to Lukla, Trek to Phakding
Day 4: Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Day 5: Namche Bazaar - Rest and Acclimatization
Day 6: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche
Day 7: Tengboche to Dingboche
Day 8: Dingboche - Acclimatization and Rest
Day 9: Dingboche to Chhukung, Climb Chhukung Ri
Day 10: Cross to Kongma La Pass, Trek to Lobuche
Day 11: Lobuche to Gorak Shep, Visit Everest Base Camp
Day 12: Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar, then to Lobuche
Day 13: Lobuche to Dzongla
Day 14: Trek to Gokyo via Cho La Pass
Day 15: Rest Day in Gokyo: Climb Gokyo Ri, Tour 4th and 5th Gokyo Lakes
Day 16: Gokyo to Marlung via Renjo La Pass
Day 17: Marlung to Namche Bazaar
Day 18: Namche Bazaar to Lukla
Day 19: Lukla to Kathmandu
Day 20: Departure Day
If you're seeking further information about the comprehensive itinerary for the Everest Three Passes Trek, I invite you to follow the provided link. This resource will offer you a detailed breakdown of the trek, outlining each step of the journey, from the start to the finish, along with insights into the villages visited and the additional day hikes available. Keep in mind that this itinerary is designed to be informative and adaptable, allowing you to tailor the experience to your preferences and needs. By clicking on the Everest Three Passes Trek link, you'll gain access to a wealth of information that will aid you in planning and preparing for this remarkable trekking adventure in the Everest region.
Everest Three Passes Trek Permits & Fees
If you have chosen to embark on the Everest Three Passes trek through a trekking agency in Nepal or internationally, the agency will take care of arranging all the necessary permits needed for the journey. However, if you are trekking independently, you'll be responsible for obtaining the permits on your own. It's important to note that permit requirements and fees can change periodically. As of now, the current information indicates that there are two main fees and permits required:
1. Local Government Fee (Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit) - NPR 2000
2. Sagarmatha National Park Permit - NPR 3000
You can conveniently purchase both the local fee in Lukla and the National Park Fee in Monjo while on the trail. This means you don't need to worry about arranging these fees or permits in Kathmandu. The fee stations are located along the route to Namche Bazaar, making them easily accessible. Additionally, as of 2023, TIMS (Trekkers' Information Management System) cards have been reinstated. This change also requires all trekkers to be accompanied by a licensed guide. Your guide will handle the TIMS card arrangement for you, with a fee of 1000 NPR for Nepali citizens and 2000 NPR for foreigners.
How to get to the starting point of the Everest Three Passes Trek?
Getting to the starting point of the Everest Three Passes trek involves a journey from Kathmandu to Lukla. Opting for a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is the most recommended and time-efficient choice. This 35-minute flight offers a breathtaking aerial view of the Himalayan landscape, immersing trekkers in its natural beauty. Subsequently, the trek commences, leading through lush forests, blooming surroundings, scattered Rhododendrons, and picturesque Himalayan flora and fauna. The route encompasses culturally rich villages like Namche Bazar, Tengboche, and Dingboche, eventually leading to the Kongma La Pass.
The Everest Three Passes trek stands as a remarkable and adventurous journey in Nepal. The Khumbu region boasts various trekking routes, including the renowned Everest Base Camp trek. The Everest Three Passes Trek takes trekkers above 5000 meters, where the ascent to the first pass, Kongma La, is particularly spectacular. Post these challenging passes, you'll be rewarded with splendid views of the world's highest peaks, including Mt. Everest, Kalapathar, and Khumbu Glacier. The second pass, Chola La, offers stunning perspectives of Gokyo Lake, and Gokyo Ri, and the third pass, Renjo La, provides encompassing views of all the passes and surrounding peaks above 8000 meters.
Throughout the Everest Three Passes trek, you'll be treated to breathtaking sights from vantage points such as Kalapathar, Gokyo Lake, Gokyo Ri, and Khumbu Glacier. Additionally, you can immerse yourself in the Sherpa culture and traditions by spending time in Namche Bazar, the capital of Sherpa villages. This culturally rich valley boasts its unique language, dress, Buddhist religion, and customs, untouched by modernization, celebrating its distinctive festivals.
For those looking to extend their trekking experience, adding five more days allows you to access the Everest Three High Passes trek from Phaplu Airport. This lower-altitude and relatively safer airport can serve as the starting point, avoiding the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla. The ongoing road development also enables driving to Kharikhola, commencing the trek from there. Alternatively, some individuals opt for helicopter flights to Lukla or even Namche, either to avoid planes or to relish an unparalleled view of the mountains. This provides flexibility in tailoring the journey to one's preferences and circumstances.
How Long Does The Everest Three Passes Trek Take?
The duration of the Three Passes Trek can vary, usually spanning from 16 to 21 days for completion. This timeframe accommodates the distance covered during trekking, the necessary adjustments for acclimatization to higher altitudes, and potential additional excursions. However, the precise duration hinges on factors like your individual trekking pace, scheduled rest days, weather conditions, and the particular itinerary you select. It's essential to allocate sufficient time for acclimatization to the elevated altitudes and to fully relish the breathtaking natural vistas and enriching cultural interactions along the route.
Everest Three Passes Trek Distance
In terms of the distance covered, the approximate overall length of the Three Passes trek is about 166 kilometers (103 miles). Nonetheless, when trekking at significant altitudes, it's more vital to focus on the elevation gain and the duration spent at these heights rather than the sheer distance traveled.
Clockwise Or Anti-Clockwise?
When deciding whether to embark on the Three Passes Trek in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, an initial query arises. The consensus leans heavily towards attempting the trek in an anti-clockwise fashion. This entails commencing with the Kongma La Pass and concluding with the Renjo La Pass. This recommendation is grounded in several benefits. By trekking anti-clockwise, there is an increased probability of successfully navigating the passes due to more favorable weather conditions.
Furthermore, this direction significantly diminishes the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) during the initial days. This is because conquering the Renjo La Pass initially demands a steep elevation gain of at least 1000 meters to reach the elevation of 5345 meters in a single day. Opting for the anti-clockwise route not only fosters more effective acclimatization but also allows for a more gradual ascent in altitude.
Ultimately, setting off on the Three Passes Trek in an anti-clockwise trajectory not only augments the likelihood of completing the trek successfully but also fosters a safer and more pleasurable experience by strategically managing altitude adjustment and acclimatization.
Altitude of Everest Everest Three Passes Trek
In terms of altitude, discussing the three high passes individually, the Kongma La pass holds the highest elevation among them all. It is situated at an altitude of 5555 meters above sea level. The second highest is Cho La pass, positioned at 5420 meters. Lastly, Renjo La pass is the lowest among the three, located at an altitude of 5360 meters. These three passes are renowned for being the challenging sections of the Everest Three High Passes trek.
Beyond these elevated points, within the Everest region, Everest Base Camp itself rests at an altitude of 5364 meters. Kala Patthar, a well-known vantage point, sits at 5545 meters, while Gokyo Ri, another prominent hill station in the area, is situated at an elevation of 5360 meters above sea level.
Everest Three Pass Trek Difficulty
The level of difficulty associated with the Everest Three Pass Trek is contingent upon the individual's capabilities and experience. This trek encompasses a comprehensive exploration of the Khumbu region, extending over three weeks. Throughout this journey, trekkers encounter a diverse range of terrains, including steep ascents and descents amidst awe-inspiring mountains. The routes can be particularly challenging, with the potential for getting disoriented due to their intricate nature. Additionally, the presence of snow-covered areas, often characterized by loose snow, can amplify the complexity of walking.
Among the various challenges, one of the most demanding aspects of the Everest Three Pass Trek lies in the frequent uphill sections. These uphill climbs pose a considerable test, especially when compared to other uphill routes. The route may also entail navigating rocky terrains and sections affected by previous landslides, demanding a high degree of focus and caution. As the trek progresses, trekkers will encounter glaciers along the path. Negotiating these icy expanses presents an additional layer of difficulty due to their slippery nature. Crossing these glaciers involves walking on thinning ice, adding an element of risk to the journey. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that crossing the glacier after 10 pm elevates the possibility of the ice giving way.
In essence, the Everest Three Pass Trek offers a blend of physical and mental challenges, ranging from steep inclines and rocky terrains to the navigational intricacies of snow-covered routes. The varying difficulties encountered along the way require trekkers to exercise a combination of skills, endurance, and cautious decision-making to ensure a safe and successful trekking experience.
What contributes to the challenging nature of the Everest Three Pass Trek?
This trek falls under the category of moderately difficult routes within the Everest region. Embarking on this comprehensive journey typically spans a minimum of three weeks. However, the duration might extend if unforeseen circumstances arise, as the Himalayan environment can be highly unpredictable. Several factors converge to create the level of difficulty associated with this trek. The primary reasons are outlined below:
Physical and Mental Fatigue
The enduring nature of a three-week trek demands a considerable toll on the body. A daily average of around 6 hours of walking becomes a demanding physical challenge during the Everest Three Pass Trek. Vital to note is the absence of alternative options; discontinuing the trek midway is not feasible due to the lack of alternative facilities. To successfully conquer this demanding trek through the Everest region, robust mental and physical readiness is imperative.
Conditioning your body to withstand prolonged physical strain becomes essential. Preparatory training involving shorter hikes or treks can serve as valuable insight into your capabilities before embarking on this journey. Equally important is cultivating mental resilience. The trek encompasses regions devoid of conventional amenities. Nourishing meals and warm clothing become precious luxuries in this setting. Your mental preparation should include not only adapting to the rustic lifestyle but also sustaining motivation throughout the experience. Being primed for challenges is essential, but refraining from overtaxing oneself mentally is equally critical. A lack of mental preparedness can significantly augment the difficulty of the Everest region trek.
Altitude poses a significant challenge during the Everest three-pass trek, involving ascending altitudes exceeding 5000 meters. One of the primary obstacles, even for physically fit individuals, is the potential onset of altitude sickness. This condition is perplexing and unpredictable, as it varies from person to person. Adequate acclimatization is crucial to mitigate the risk of altitude sickness. Neglecting this can intensify the challenges of completing the three-pass trek. Therefore, it's imperative to possess the required gear and medications before embarking on this adventure in the Everest region.
Steep Climbs and Long Hikes
Over nearly three weeks, and potentially longer, you'll be engaged in an average daily walking duration of around 6 hours during the Everest three-pass trek. The path traverses regions impacted by landslides, includes steep pathways, and encompasses challenging terrains. The journey entails demanding ascents, with the presence of glaciers further elevating the trek's complexity within the Everest region. Navigating these glaciers carries inherent risks, as you'll be walking on ice. It's important to note that attempting glacier crossings later in the day could lead to ice instability due to the warmth of the sun.
The weather conditions in the Everest region are extremely erratic, requiring you to be ready for unforeseen circumstances at any moment. The climate is notably chilly, and challenging weather conditions can amplify the complexities of the Everest three-pass trek. It's important to note that there's no available heating infrastructure, so you'll need to don thick clothing layers to safeguard yourself from the intense cold, particularly during the night. Furthermore, your expedition might not unfold as intended due to the region's renowned unpredictable weather patterns.
Lack of Various Facilities
The absence of numerous amenities characterizes the rural environment you'll traverse during the trek. Luxuries are non-existent, and sustenance can solely be procured at modest teahouses upon reaching villages. The culinary offerings typically consist of basic fare such as rice or bread. As you ascend, the accessibility of nourishment diminishes while the costs escalate. ATMs are non-present within the Everest region, and electricity remains accessible only in select locations. These combined factors contribute to the heightened challenges inherent in the Everest three-pass trek.
Best Time To Attempt The Everest Three Passes Trek
The optimal periods to undertake the Three Passes Trek in the Himalayas are from March to May and from September to November. These two main trekking seasons provide the most favorable conditions for a successful journey.
1. March to May: During this time frame, the Khumbu region experiences a delightful spring climate. This season is widely favored for trekking and expedition climbing. Rainfall is minimal, leading to clear skies and warmer daytime temperatures. The landscape becomes vibrant with blooming plants and lush rhododendron forests at the lower elevations.
2. September to November: Following the monsoon season, the period between September and November is another popular choice for many Three Passes trekking itineraries. During these months, clouds disperse, and the weather is pleasantly cool, as opposed to the summer heat. The landscapes at lower altitudes display lush greenery, and the chances of encountering storms are relatively low.
It's worth noting that winter, marked by heavy snowfall and icy conditions, can make the passes exceedingly challenging to traverse. As a result, winter treks might involve closures and increased difficulties. Conversely, the summer season brings a heightened risk of avalanches due to the rapid melting of ice and snow on the Himalayan peaks.
While both recommended trekking periods offer their advantages, keep in mind that the autumn season may bring colder nights compared to the spring season. To ensure your comfort, consider bringing an extra warm sleeping bag for slightly chillier nights.
Ultimately, plan your Three Passes Trek during the periods of March to May or September to November to maximize your chances of a safe and enjoyable trekking experience.
Everest Three Passes Trek Packing List
Below is a concise inventory of gear required for the Three Passes trek. A more detailed packing list is also available for comprehensive planning. It's important to have:
- A 40-60L hiking backpack with a rain cover; reputable brands like Osprey, Deuter, and Berghaus are recommended.
- A water bottle; Grayl bottles are particularly handy as they filter water, negating the need for water purification tablets.
- Layered clothing system: This encompasses a thermal base layer, a trekking shirt and pants, an insulating layer, a down jacket, and a durable hardshell jacket.
- A physical map.
- Electronic devices such as a phone, Kindle, and a power bank.
- Well-crafted, broken-in trekking boots along with appropriate socks.
- Sunglasses and a buff.
- A first aid kit.
- Microfiber towels, toiletries, and sunscreen.
- Headlamp and trekking poles.
- Lightweight, warm fleece or cotton sleepwear, paired with a -15°C sleeping bag.
- Adequate cash.
Essential Trekking Resources For The Everest Three Passes Trek
Before we get into this Three Passes Trek itinerary blog, here are some more essential resources for everyone planning to tackle the passes. I used most of these on my treks in Nepal but some I discovered in hindsight.
The Lonely Planet: Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya eBook - Having this guide on a Kindle is a great complement to other resources. It includes maps, day-by-day trekking information, and information on towns and teahouses. eBooks on a Kindle are great because they're much lighter.
A Physical Khumbu Trekking Map - This is essential to have. You can buy one before you get to Nepal, or purchase one in Thamel. Make sure to look for one that includes the Three Passes loop.
Immigration.gov website - The best source for up-to-date information about park entrance fees and permits.
Maps. Me App - Has a rough route for the Three Passes. However, it definitely shouldn't be used as a primary source of navigation but can come in handy.
Understanding of Altitude Sickness - Make sure to read up on AMS and how to minimize risk and exposure. Do your research and consult a doctor if necessary.
Travel Insurance - I'd highly recommend travel insurance for any Three Passes trek itinerary. Make sure to read your PDS to see if there are exclusions for trekking above certain altitudes (usually 4500 m). World Nomads and Global Rescue are among the only companies I know covering the Three Passes Trek.
Skyscanner - Very useful for finding the cheapest flights to Kathmandu and Lukla.
Booking.com - Useful for finding cheap accommodation in Kathmandu and Thamel before flying to Lukla.
Everest Three Passes Trek solo
Embarking on the Everest Three Passes trek solo offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery and isolation amidst the mountains. Venturing alone with the guidance of local Nepali staff adds a special dimension to your trekking experience across these three challenging passes.
Regarding independent trekking, it's important to note that while the Nepalese government doesn't grant permission for solo trekking on certain routes, you are indeed allowed to undertake the Everest Three Passes trek independently. This involves making all the necessary arrangements by yourself, including flight tickets, permits, trekking gear, food, and accommodations.
For those opting for independent trekking, it's crucial to select an itinerary that aligns with your physical fitness level. The Everest Three Passes trek, combined with an Everest Base Camp visit, is considered among the more demanding treks. Hence, choosing a suitable itinerary is essential to ensure a successful journey.
It's worth acknowledging that trekking solo can incur higher costs compared to group treks. However, despite this, solo trekking is recommended over attempting the trek completely independently.
Trekkers who lack experience in high-altitude trekking in Nepal should avoid the Everest Three High Passes trek. The journey across these passes, all of which surpass an elevation of 5000 meters, presents significant challenges and requires considerable physical endurance.
Feel free to reach out to us for further detailed information. We are here to assist you in your Nepal travel endeavors.
Do and Don’ts during Everest Three Passes Trek
Here are the do's and don'ts to adhere to during the Everest Three High Passes Trek:
1. Obtain a permit before entering Sagarmatha National Park; entering without one will result in legal consequences.
2. If you plan to use a drone within the park, obtain special permission and be prepared to pay an additional fee.
3. Respect and preserve the flora and fauna within Sagarmatha National Park; avoid causing harm or disruption.
4. Properly dispose of garbage in designated areas to maintain the cleanliness of the environment.
5. Show respect for cultural and religious sites encountered during the trek.
6. Follow designated camping areas; camping is only allowed in specified locations.
1. Do not enter Sagarmatha National Park without a valid permit to avoid legal repercussions.
2. Avoid using a drone within the park without obtaining the necessary permission and paying the required fee.
3. Refrain from disturbing or harming the plants and animals within the park.
4. Do not litter; dispose of garbage responsibly in designated receptacles.
5. Show reverence for cultural and religious sites, avoiding any disrespectful behavior.
6. Do not camp outside of designated areas; follow the rules and guidelines for camping locations.
In conclusion, while the Everest Base Camp trek is renowned, there's an alternative that goes beyond the beaten path – the Everest Three Pass Trek. This trail offers an authentic and unique Everest experience, departing from the traditional route followed by thousands. Embarking on this adventure demands extra caution and thorough physical and mental preparation due to its challenging nature. Despite its difficulty, the rewards are substantial, making it a truly worthwhile endeavor. This trek is ideal for those seeking an unconventional EBC adventure.
If you're equipped with extra time and the determination to explore more of this breathtaking region, the Three Passes option is worth considering. Conversely, if your schedule is tighter and an additional week of hiking isn't feasible, the EBC trek is a suitable choice.
Should you desire more information, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We appreciate your interest in this article and encourage you to rate it below. Feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have.
Looking for hikes that are a little less intense? Everest Base Camp, the Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, and Poon Hill are all stunning.