Everest: A Trekker's Guide
Trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet
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Guidebook to treks in the Everest and Khumbu region of the Himalaya in Nepal. All the main Nepal trekking routes, including from Lukla (and Jiri) to Namche Bazaar, and routes to Thame, Gokyo, Thangboche, Lobuche, Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp. Includes two routes in Tibet from Tingri to the Rongbuk monastery and Kharta to the Kangshung Face.
- Pre-monsoon (March-May) and post-monsoon (October to late November) are ideal. Monsoon and winter treks are possible, but much more difficult.
- Access is via Kathmandu. Namche is the central village; Thame, Dingboche also have facilities. Tea houses everywhere.
- Technically no great difficulties, but the need to acclimatise and manage the transition to altitude are crucial to having a great trek. Some of the high passes (Cho La) will have snow.
- Must See
- For the mountain lover, some of the greatest views on earth, but the friendly Sherpa people, Bhuddist gompas and local culture make this a much greater experience.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal is a trekker’s dream world. The dramatic beauty of its mountains is legendary, from the lush foothills stepped with immaculate terracing, to the stark upper regions of snow, ice and towering walls of rock, they are a series of unfolding landscapes that impress all who wander through. None who are lured along this trail need fear disappointment.
This guidebook covers just one region of this magical land, Solu-Khumbu - home of the legendary sherpas – and its northern neighbour in Tibet. This guidebook describes 9 treks, with Everest as the focus, as well as a trek to Rongbuk and another from Kharta to the Kangshung Face, on the Tibetan side of Everest. The nine multi-day treks vary from 1 to 11 days in length with the longest trek covering 65km and the shortest, 18km.
Each of the routes described will open the eyes of trekkers to scenes of unbelievable grandeur. Although trekking in the Everest region can be pretty demanding at times, the majority of trails are so well travelled that it’s almost impossible to get lost. The main treks have been broken into groups of several days, with each multi-day section divided into sub-sections, rather than manageable day-sized stages.
Trek 1 Jiri to Namche Bazaar
Trek 2 Lukla to Namche Bazaar
Trek 3 Namche Bazaar to Thame and Gokyo
Trek 4 Namche Bazaar (or Khumjung) to Gokyo
Trek 5 Gokyo to Lobuche via Cho La
Trek 6 Gokyo to Lobuche via Phortse, Pangboche and Pheriche
Trek 7 Namche Bazaar (or Khumjung) to Lobuche, Gorak Shep,
Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp
Trek 8 Tingri to Everest Rongbuk Base Camp via Lamna La
Trek 9 Kharta to the Kangshung Face
Everest and the Solu-Khumbu Region
Trekking and Trekking Styles
When to Go
Permits and Visas
Pre-Trek Health Matters
Minimum Impact Trekking
Nepal – Facts and Figures
Time in Kathmandu
About this Guide
TREK 1 Jiri to Namche Bazaar via Lukla
Prologue Kathmandu to Jiri
Section 1 Jiri to Kenja
Section 2 Kenja to Manidingma
Section 3 Manidingma to Choplung
TREK 2 Lukla to Namche Bazaar
TREK 3 Namche Bazaar to Thame and Gokyo
TREK 4 Namche Bazaar (or Khumjung) to Gokyo
Section 1 Namche Bazaar to Dole
Section 2 Dole to Gokyo
TREK 5 Gokyo to Lobuche via Cho La
TREK 6 Gokyo to Lobuche via Phortse, Pangboche and Pheriche
TREK 7 Namche Bazaar (or Khumjung) to Lobuche, Gorak Shep, Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp
Section 1 Namche Bazaar to Pheriche (or Dingboche)
Section 2 Pheriche (or Dingboche) to Lobuche
Section 3 Lobuche to Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp
TREK 8 Tingri to Everest Rongbuk Base Camp
TREK 9 Kharta to the Kangshung Face
Appendix A Summary of Treks
Appendix B The Story of Everest
Appendix C Trekking Peaks in the Solu-Khumbu Region
Appendix D Useful Addresses
Appendix E Glossary
Appendix F Useful Phrases
Appendix G Further Reading
WANT TO HELP?
In third world countries, mapping is at best erratic and imprecise. The Adventure Travel Handbook
That quotation could be true of many regions of Nepal, but as the area covered by this guidebook contains the highest mountain on earth, it is certainly not apt here. As Ed Hillary once said of the Khumbu, it is ‘the most surveyed, examined, blood-taken, anthropologically dissected area in the world’. The map-makers have been busy.
The best coverage, beautifully drawn and produced on ‘trek-proof’ paper to a scale of 1:50,000, is the four-colour series published by Freytag-Berndt in Vienna, generally known as the Schneider maps after cartographer Erwin Schneider who undertook the initial fieldwork. Their quality is outstanding, a quality that is reflected in their price. They are stocked by Stanfords in London and The Map Shop, Upton-upon Severn, and are sometimes available in Kathmandu.
Three sheets deal with the Jiri to Everest route:
- Tamba Kosi includes the trail from Jiri to Junbesi
- Shorong/Hinku deals with Junbesi to Namche
- Khumbu Himal covers all the country north of Namche included in this guide.
The same publisher also produces a more detailed sheet at a scale of 1:25,000 which concentrates on Mount Everest and its immediate environs.
In 1988 the National Geographic Society in Washington DC published their own high-quality map of Mount Everest at a scale of 1:50,000. Although it may have little practical trekking value (it concentrates as much on the Tibetan side of the mountain as it does the Nepalese, and spreads as far south only as Pangboche and Ama Dablam), it is one of the most accurate sheets ever produced of the Everest region and serves well as a souvenir of the trek to it. This map is generally on sale in Kathmandu bookshops.
Also published by National Geographic/Trails Illustrated is a 1:50,000 scale trekking map, Everest Base Camp, for the Khumbu region between Lukla and Base Camp, with part of the Gokyo valley included. Trails and groups of lodges are shown, and on the reverse there’s a street map of Kathmandu and Patan. (www.trailsillustrated.com www.nationalgeographic.com)
Perhaps the most readily available of all maps in Kathmandu are those published by The Himalayan Maphouse. Under the name of Nepa Maps, they have produced a series of sheets aimed specifically at the needs of trekkers. One sheet at a scale of 1:100,000 covers the whole route from Jiri to Everest and includes the Gokyo side valley (Khumbu: Sagarmatha National Park), while two alternative sheets at 1:50,000 concentrate on the respective Gokyo and Everest Base Camp treks: Trekking from Lukla to Gokyo the Sacred Lakes, and Trekking from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. The second of these maps also includes the Gokyo route. Each of these three sheets contains additional trekking information in a side panel, but detail on the maps themselves is not entirely accurate, and there are some glaring omissions. However, for practical trekking purposes they are certainly worth having.
Himalayan Maphouse also publishes a sheet under the name of the Himalayan Kartographisches Institut, which covers the route from Jiri to Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp and includes both the Gokyo and Imja Khola valleys. Khumbu is produced at a scale of 1:125,000. Contours are marked at 100m intervals, and as with the Nepa Maps mentioned above, a side panel provides additional trekking information. Some of the routes depicted on the map, however, are misleading and, as with the Nepa Maps, there are several omissions. (email@example.com)
It is worth noting that the spelling of village names, mountains and features vary widely from map to map, as do altitude measurements.
Under the Nepa Maps imprint, an astronomical sheet (Deep Sky of Nepal) has been produced which you may wish to take with you on trek. The Himalayan night sky is as magically clear as you’ll find anywhere outside the desert regions, and this sheet will aid identification of much that is on show.
For trekking on the north and east (Tibetan) side of Everest, the Xi’an Cartographic Publishing House has produced Mount Qomolangma (Sagamatha) which can be useful.
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Trekking regulations have been constantly modified over recent years, so you will need to check the latest changes when planning your trek. Information on the internet is often not up-to-date, so when you arrive check in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Even as guides go to press, changes occur that may affect independent trekkers. The latest rules require all independent trekkers to have a porter/guide. As usual, these rules are not entirely clear, nor is it clear how they are to be implemented. Such schemes (usually instigated by the big trekking outfits) have been imposed in the past, but subsequently abandoned with equal speed. Previous schemes actually harmed many small or fledgling local tourist operatives, porters and guides – particularly all those outside the Kathmandu valley. The reason cited for the latest changes is security – mainly because some individuals who trekked alone and off the main trails sadly came to grief. How long they will last, and how these new regulations will affect trekking in Nepal is not clear. Information about the independent Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS) cards is also subject to change.
www.immi.gov.np – immigration department for visa and permits
www.timsnepal.com – information on TIMS cards
www.taan.org.np – Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal
(With thanks to Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons)
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A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.
Claiming to be The Man with the World's Best Job, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds.
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