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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.
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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.
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
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)
|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?|
Mountains are fountains, not only of rivers and fertile soil, but of men. Therefore we are all, in some sense, mountaineers, and going to the mountains is going home.
For all its great bulk and a height of 8848m (29,028ft) Mount Everest is remarkably shy, and for many days successfully eludes the gaze of trekkers approaching from the south. On the walk-in from Jiri there is one memorable stretch of trail between Junbesi and Sallung where for a few glorious minutes an amazing line of snowpeaks, including Everest, marks the far horizon. Then it's gone, not to appear again for several days until a bend on the final slope leading to Namche Bazaar grants but a brief, tantalising glimpse.
Beyond Namche, however, the summit pyramid, often devoid of snow, appears from a variety of viewpoints as a black crown perched on the Nuptse–Lhotse ridge. All around other peaks, of varying altitudes and degrees of grandeur, jostle for attention while Everest impresses, as has been said, not so much by its great height ‘but by the suggestion…of the immensity of its unseen mass’.
For most trekkers following the trails in this book a clear view of the world's highest mountain will be the lure. That is understandable. But Everest is merely one among dozens of stunning peaks that crowd each day in Khumbu. Stand on the summit of Gokyo Ri and a truly remarkable panorama displays rank upon rank of snow, ice and rock peak, each carved with its own savage profile, while far below shines a turquoise lake and beyond its walling moraine the longest glacier in Nepal stretches grey, bleak and rubble-strewn.
At the head of Gokyo's valley, Cho Oyu – one of the first ‘eight thousanders’ ever to be climbed – presents an almost featureless white face, a vast wall of snow-covered ice, while neighbouring Gyachung Kang provides a neatly sculpted contrast, appealing yet formidable with its bare-rock buttresses rising steeply from the glaciers.
Then there are the ice-crusted walls and pinnacles of Kangtega and Thamserku soaring above Namche, and nearby Ama Dablam, as easily recognised and as eternally memorable as Machhapuchhare (the ‘fish-tail’ peak) in the Annapurna Himal. From the trail above Namche, as from Khumjung and Thyangboche (or Tengboche), graceful Ama Dablam dominates views along the valley of the Imja Khola. Yet if you trek farther upvalley and view it from the north, the mountain is transformed entirely, and still it remains handsome, aloof and seemingly unattainable.
From Kala Pattar below stately Pumori, directly opposite Everest itself, the impressive west flank of Nuptse with its fluted peak, its great daubs of meringue-like snow and hanging glaciers, shames its more illustrious neighbour with startling beauty. If ever there were a crystal mountain Nuptse, seen from this view, would be it.
These, and other magnificent peaks, provide all the visual drama for which Nepal is so justly famed.
Nepal claims 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. Of these, three are Khumbu mountains (Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu), while a fourth (Makalu) is seen from specific viewpoints on and above the trail. Not without good reason did the much-travelled Bill Tilman call this ‘the grandest 30 miles of the Himalaya’.
Yet trekking in Solu-Khumbu is more than a simple adoration of mountains, for there are other aspects of the region that will enhance the whole experience of travel there. Villages along the trail, for example, reflect a way of life long forgotten by the developed world. Men and women still work the land either with the aid of water buffalo (in the foothills), or simply by hand (in the higher regions). As there are no roads there are no wheeled vehicles and all goods must be transported on the backs of porters or by strings of ponies or yaks. Along the trail prayer flags, prayer wheels, mani walls, chortens and gold-topped gompas all symbolise a tranquillity of spirit ignored by our industrialised society.
For many, trekking in the Khumbu can become almost a spiritual experience, a communion with both nature and man. Along the trails described in the following pages one has an opportunity to touch heaven every day.