Three Passes Trek | Going Solo!
Who wouldn’t want to travel to Everest Base Camp described by many travel magazines as one of the most beautiful places to visit before you die? I had started preparation to fulfill my yearlong dream of traveling to Everest Base Camp and utilize my Dashain holidays since a month back.
To make the journey more adventurous, I decided to do the Three Passes Trek (Renjo La Pass – Chola Pass and Kongma La Pass).
Though I had bought the ticket to Lukla for October 8, flights could not be possible because of bad weather. I could fly to Lukla three days later only.
My trek began after I landed at Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport (2840 meters), described by many as the most dangerous airstrip in the world. The walk progressed through the Dudh Koshi River, turning Mani wheels, overpass hanging bridges, and talking with partner trekkers and trekking staff.
Namche Bazaar was covered by a thick mist when I reached this popular stopover on the Everest Base Camp trail evening, passing through beautiful villages like Cheplung, Phakding, Monjo, and Jorsalle. I booked a room for myself and took a short stroll through the village. The village has coffee shops, bakery outlets, restaurants, disco clubs, and pool houses, among others. “Bro, this village is no less compared to Thamel. There is nothing you can’t have here if you have money,” the owner of my lodge shared with me.
I began the second day’s walk after having breakfast at my lodge. Trekkers have a choice here. Some select the vintage route to the base camp via Tengboche; others prefer the trail via Gokyo Lake while the daredevils select the three passes trek. I caught the trail to Thame as I was attempting the Three Passes Trek.
Thame is the village of well-renowned mountaineers. Mountaineering legends like Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Apa Sherpa, and Ang Rita Sherpa were born in this village. I checked into famed mountaineer Apa Sherpa’s lodge for my lunch. I could see Apa’s summit photographs and certificates hung on the lodge’s wall. After lunch, I continued my walk toward Lungden.
I talked cordially with many foreign trekkers that I met on the trail. This is the beauty of traveling alone. These strangers are very important to my trek; they energize me. I listen to their stories and share my experiences with them. Then I reached Lungden in the evening, sharing light moments with two Japanese trekkers. I spent the evening planning for tomorrow’s crossing of Renjo La Pass.
I began the walk at 5 in the morning. It was a very difficult walk full of a steep climb and rocky trail. A trekking guide told me that the condition of the trail has worsened after the 2015 earthquakes. Tired like a log, I was taking one step at a time. Finally, I reached the top. The view from the top made me forget my tiredness. I felt more energized and I spent about an hour at the top, clicking pictures of the mountains around me. I keenly watched peaks like Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu and started my descent.
After crossing the Renjo La Pass, I reached Gokyo – my stopover for the night. I could see the turquoise green water of Gokyo and the glittering snow-capped mountains right before me. Is this heaven? I wondered.
Gokyo is one of the most popular attractions of the Everest Base Camp trek. Many trekkers end their trek after visiting Gokyo and climbing the Gokyo Ri. Some reach Everest Base Camp after crossing the Chola Pass.
Gokyo Ri (5357 meters) is one of the most popular viewpoints in the Gokyo Valley. It offers a magnificent view of Gokyo lake. I started the walk at around 5 in the morning to fulfill my wish of enjoying the sunrise from Gokyo Ri. I finally reached the top after a steep climb of about three hours. After spending about an hour at the top, I descended to the valley, took a short stroll in the village, and continued my walk after lunch. The trail went along the Gozumba glacier. I reached Thaknak in the evening.
The next day, I started my walk, with my headlight on, early in the morning toward Chola Pass. Chola Pass is regarded as the toughest among the three passes. Though I was apprehensive of the walk initially, I continued my walk and crossed the pass rather easily. After crossing the pass, I descended to Jongla, which sits on the lap of Cholatse Himal.
Though most of the trekkers spend their night here after crossing Chola Pass, I continued my trek. The trail progressed along the banks of Chola Tso glacial lake. Then I crossed pastureland and reached Lobuche. I didn’t stop there, as well. It was already evening when I reached Gorakshep. “You are a man or a horse?” wondered a lady when I shared with her that I crossed Chola Pass this morning only.
Gorakshep is the final human settlement on the Everest Base Camp trek. There are many good hotels and lodges in this village situated at an altitude of 5,140 meters above sea level. Trekkers get almost everything that they want in the Everest region. Lodge owners serve sumptuous meals even though they have to carry everything using porters from Lukla. Trails to Kalapatthar and Everest Base Camp separate from Gorak Shep. Most of the trekkers climb Kalapatthar early in the morning to enjoy sunrise and trek to Everest Base Camp the next day.
The next day, I climbed Kalapatthar to enjoy the sunrise. From there, I could catch magnificent views of Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, Amadablam, Mera Peak, and Thamserku, among other mountains. Kalapatthar (5550 meters) is the highest point on the Everest Base Camp trail, and it offers 360-degree views of mountains.
I descended to Gorakshep, had lunch, and started my trek toward the Everest Base Camp. Everest Base Camp wore a deserted look as it was not the climbing season. But there were many trekkers. I could see their faces glow with pride as they complete their dream of reaching the Everest Base Camp.
I returned to Gorakshep, committing to stand on the summit of Mt Everest someday. From there, I descended to Lobuche, which sits on the banks of Dudhkoshi River, for my night halt. As all the lodges were full, I had to share a room with four porters. It was a different experience altogether.
I started my trek after having breakfast at 5:30 am the next day. Today, I had to cross Kongma La Pass – the third pass of my trek. The trail was very difficult; there was no one who I could talk to. At one time, I regretted my decision to do the Three Passes Trek alone. But I tried to console myself that everything will be alright.
I was tired, maybe because I was approaching the final destination of my trek. Despite all these, I managed to complete my Three Passes Trek. It took me four hours to cross the 5535-meter pass. Once I stood on the top, my tiredness had gone. I felt rejuvenated.
After capturing beautiful mountains in my camera, I started descent toward Chhukung village, which is seated on the lap of Amadablam.
Chhukung gets view visitors as only a few trekkers headed to the Everest Base Camp use this trail. After having my lunch here, I trekked through Orsho, Shomare, Pangboche, and Dingboche before reaching Tengboche, where I stayed for the night.
After breakfast, I left Tengboche and reached Namche in two hours. I took some pictures of this beautiful village and went to the famed Everest View Hotel. Many trekkers, who cannot travel to Everest Base Camp, return after enjoying mountain views from this hotel.
I resumed my walk through Jorsalle, Monjo, Phakding, and finally, to Lukla and I had completed the trek, which would generally take 15-16 days, in just eight days!
I boarded a flight to Kathmandu at around noon the next day, recalling my adventurous trek.