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Go trekking in Tibet and Nepal with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Everest: A Trekker's Guide
2 Jun 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
1st Published
27 Jan 2012
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Everest: A Trekker's Guide

Trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet

by Kev Reynolds
Book published by Cicerone Press

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.

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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.

From Nepal

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

From Tibet

Trek 8 Tingri to Everest Rongbuk Base Camp via Lamna La
Trek 9 Kharta to the Kangshung Face

  • Seasons
    Pre-monsoon (March-May) and post-monsoon (October to late November) are ideal. Monsoon and winter treks are possible, but much more difficult.
  • Centres
    Access is via Kathmandu. Namche is the central village; Thame, Dingboche also have facilities. Tea houses everywhere.
  • Difficulty
    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.


August 2012

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.

See also: – immigration department for visa and permits – information on TIMS cards – Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal

(With thanks to Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons)


Everest and the Solu-Khumbu Region
Everest Treks
Trekking and Trekking Styles
When to Go
Pre-Departure Preparations
Getting There
Permits and Visas
Pre-Trek Health Matters
On-Trek Healthcare
Equipment Checklist
Minimum Impact Trekking
Cultural Interaction
Nepal – Facts and Figures
Time in Kathmandu
About this Guide
From Nepal
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
From Tibet
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

Further Reading

There is no shortage of books on Nepal, but many of those listed below have specific interest to trekkers concentrating on the Everest region. Several have wider scope, of course, but all contain information relevant to users of this guidebook. Inevitably some are out of print and unobtainable in the West, except through public libraries or internet sites. However, many bookshops in Kathmandu stock an admirable selection of new, old and reprinted volumes, and will be worth investigating if you cannot obtain what you require at home. The ultimate Kathmandu bookshop, Pilgrims (near the Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel) is well worth a visit.

General tourist guides

Insight Guide: Nepal edited by Hans Höfer (APA Publications) Expert contributions, both textual and photographic, give this regularly updated book an air of authority.

Nepal: The Rough Guide by David Reed (Rough Guides) and Nepal – A Travel Survival Kit by Hugh Findlay (Lonely Planet) Both offer lots of practical information on getting around Nepal, and include some trekking information. Regularly updated.

Nepal: The Kingdom of the Himalayas by Toni Hagen (Kümmerley and Frey 1980) Not a tourist guide as such, this large format coffee-table book is packed with an assortment of information and photographs gleaned from the author’s wide-ranging travels throughout the country. Toni Hagen was the first man to be given the freedom to explore the whole of Nepal, and as such his knowledge of the country must be considered unique.

Mount Everest National Park – Sagarmatha Mother of the Universe by Margaret Jefferies (The Mountaineers 1991) A guidebook to the Sagarmatha National Park.

Kathmandu: Valley of the Green-Eyed Yellow Idol by Bob Gibbons & Siân Pritchard-Jones (Pilgrims Publishing 2005) Gives a colourful description of Kathmandu, its temples, history, legends and its valley, presented in a highly readable and idiosyncratic style.


Most trekking guides that focus on Nepal attempt to cover as many areas as possible. Each one contains much of interest and practical use, but for the majority of trekkers – whose visit concentrates on one route or one region only – there will inevitably be large passages of unused material.

Trekking in Nepal by Stephen Bezruchka (Cordee/The Mountaineers – 7th edition 1997) The classic trekker’s guide. Packed with information, it is a gem of a book. Sensitively written and regularly revised, the author’s love of the country and his concern for the people is a shining example to all who follow in his footsteps. Anyone planning a visit to Nepal should study this book before leaving home.

Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya by Bradley Mayhew & Joe Bindloss (Lonely Planet, 9th edition, 2009) A compact guide to five regions of Nepal including, of course, the trek to Everest. The author has spent many years leading trekking parties in the Himalaya and now lives in Kathmandu.Trekking & Climbing in Nepal by Steve Razzetti (New Holland 2000) Written and beautifully illustrated by a well-known British trek leader, it naturally includes treks in the Everest region.

Trekking in Nepal, West Tibet and Bhutan by Hugh Swift (Sierra Club/Hodder & Stoughton 1989) Provides an interesting overview of trekking possibilities in these three countries. It seeks to cover too much territory to give precise detail, but makes enjoyable reading nonetheless.

Trekking in Nepal by Toru Nakano (Springfield Books – latest edition 1990) Has a strong photographic content, and some of the illustrations are particularly striking – serves as a reminder to take a camera and plenty of film.

Adventure Treks: Nepal by Bill O’Connor (Crowood Press/Cicerone Press 1990) Not a route guidebook as such, it consists of a series of personal narratives describing various treks, and manages to convey some of the magic – as well as some of the frustrations – of trekking in Nepal. Currently O/P.

The Trekking Peaks of Nepal by Bill O’Connor (Crowood Press 1991) This companion volume to Adventure Treks is, perhaps, of more value, even if you have no ambition to climb. Brief details of major trekking routes are given, as well as outlines of the possibilities for climbing on all 18 nominated trekking peaks.

Trekking in the Everest Region by Jamie McGuiness (Trailblazer Publications 4th edition 2002) Covers the same area as the present book. Well researched and with lots of background information taking precedence over route details.

Trekking Mount Everest by Ryohei Uchida (Chronicle Books, 1991) Large format full-colour photographic guide to the trek from Jiri.

Trekking in Tibet by Gary McCue (Cordee/The Mountaineers 3rd edition, 2010) Includes the northern side of Mount Everest. A very informative book, and worth having if you consider visiting Tibet.

Tibet: A Trekking Guide to Southern Tibet by Bob Gibbons & Sian Pritchard-Jones (Tiwari’s Pilgrims Book House 1993) Published in Kathmandu, this slim guide gives route details for the treks to Everest and Xixapangma.

Classic Walks of the World edited by Walt Unsworth (Oxford Illustrated Press 1985) Includes a chapter on the trek from Lukla to Kala Pattar.

The Trekker’s Handbook by Thomas R Gilchrist (Cicerone Press 1996) Written in humorous style by an experienced trek leader, and packed with sound advice. Highly recommended, wherever you may plan to trek. Currently out of print.

The Mountain Traveller’s Handbook by Paul Deegan (BMC 2002) Similar to Gilchrist’s book above – but with a wider remit – this is for climbers as well as trekkers.

Mountains and mountaineering

There are far too many books describing expeditions (successful and otherwise) to Mount Everest to be included here, so the list is necessarily selective.

Everest by Walt Unsworth (The Mountaineers/Baton Wicks 1999) The definitive ‘biography’ of the mountain. Impeccably researched and intelligently written, the narrative unfolds the story of climbing activity up to 1999. A ‘must’ for all who have an interest in the world’s highest mountain.

Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance 1921 by Lt Col CK Howard-Bury (Arnold, 1922) Of particular interest to trekkers on the Tibetan side of Everest.

Climbing Everest by George Leigh Mallory (Gibson Square, 2010) All of Mallory’s writings, including of course his Everest experiences.

Nepal Himalaya by HW Tilman (Cambridge University Press 1952 – now contained in the collection of ‘The Seven Mountain Travel Books’ (Diadem Books/The Mountaineers 1983) Tilman was the first Westerner to visit the upper Khumbu valley in 1950, and his account of that journey is one of the best sections in this book, which also deals with his travels in Langtang and the Marsyangdi valley east of Annapurna. ‘The Seven Mountain Travel Books’ collection also contains his Mount Everest 1938.

The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt (Hodder & Stoughton 1953) This became an instant classic following the first successful ascent by Hillary and Tenzing in 1953. All the innocent beauty of Khumbu, as well as the drama of the build-up towards the summit attempt, remain intact. Worth reading.

The Alpine Journal 1993 (Alpine Club/Ernest Press 1993) Has a section celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest, which contains a number of previously unpublished articles and letters of interest to Everest ‘buffs’.

Everest: The Best Writing and Pictures by Peter Gillman (Little, Brown 1993) A superb anthology which contains many little-known gems.

Everest: Summit of Achievement by Stephen Venables (Bloomsbury/RGS 2003) One of many books published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Everest’s first ascent, this is a pictorial history with intelligent essays by various writers. Includes many fine historic photographs from the RGS archives never previously published.

Everest: 50 Years on Top of the World by George Band (HarperCollins 2003) Entertainingly written by a member of the successful 1953 expedition, this is a selective history of climbing on the world’s highest mountain.

Everest: The West Ridge by Thomas Hornbein (San Francisco 1965, London 1971) Tells the story of the American expedition of 1963 that made the first traverse of the mountain and put six members on the summit.

Everest: The Hard Way by Chris Bonington (Hodder & Stoughton 1976) In 1975 Doug Scott and Dougal Haston became the first men to reach the summit via the huge South-West Face, where six previous expeditions had failed. Bonington was the expedition leader.

The Crystal Horizon by Reinhold Messner (Crowood Press 1989) Messner’s second oxygenless ascent of Everest, this time solo in 1980, from Tibet.

Everest: Kangshung Face by Stephen Venables (Hodder & Stoughton 1989) In 1988 Venables was part of a four-man expedition attempting to climb the East, or Kangshung, Face which overlooks Tibet. This book recounts the success of that expedition, as well as the horror of descent.

Mount Everest Massif by Jan Kielkowski (Explo Publishers, Gliwice, Poland) A guidebook describing no less than 124 routes on Everest and its immediate neighbours. No photographs, but scores of line drawings showing routes and attempted routes. Meticulously researched.

Tenzing: Hero of Everest by Ed Douglas (National Geographic 2003) A highly readable and authoritative biography


Chomolungma Sings the Blues by Ed Douglas (Constable 1997/Robinson p/b 2001) Essential reading for anyone planning to trek in the Everest region, for it gives a realistic view of the sometimes damaging effects of adventure tourism.

Travels in Nepal by Charlie Pye-Smith (Aurum Press 1988) Gives some thought-provoking views on the question of aid to Nepal, as well as being a lively and entertaining travel book. He spends time in Jiri and Namche Bazaar, among others.

Footloose in the Himalaya by Mike Harding (Michael Joseph 1989) Both humorous and thoughtful. Harding describes trekking in Zanskar and Ladakh, in the Annapurna region, and also Namche to Kala Pattar.

First Across the Roof of the World by Graeme Dingle and Peter Hillary (Hodder & Stoughton 1982) An astonishing tale of a journey on foot from Kanchenjunga to K2 by two New Zealanders and a Sherpa. Some inspiring photographs will set you dreaming about other areas to trek in.

Himalaya by Michael Palin (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004) Based on the popular BBC ­television series, Palin, in his easy-going style, describes the Rongbuk side of Everest during his journey along the Himalayan chain. With splendid photos by Basil Pao.

Anthropology and natural history

Birds of Nepal by Fleming, Fleming and Bangdel (Avalok 1984) A comprehensive field guide, richly illustrated.

A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Nepal by Carol Inskipp (Prion 1988)

Concise Flowers of the Himalaya by Oleg Polunin and Adam Stainton (Oxford University Press 1987)

Butterflies of Nepal by Colin Smith (Tecpress 1989)

Wildlife of Nepal by TK Shrestha (Tribhuvan University)

People of Nepal by Dor Bahadur Bista (Ratna Pustak Bhandar – 5th edition 1987) Background information on a number of ethnic groups of Nepal.

Sherpas: Reflection on Change in Himalayan Nepal by James F.Fisher (University of California Press 1990)

The Festivals of Nepal by Mary M Anderson (George Allen & Unwin 1971)

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