My departure from Nepal last January was a very sad time.
I was a kid taken to the most miraculous, jaw-dropping theme park imaginable and told, “You have five minutes to enjoy yourself here before we need to leave and go home.”
For those five minutes things were awesome, but as soon as they were over, all I could think about is going back.
And now, exactly one year after I first crossed the border into the Kingdom of Nepal, I’m going back.
The objective? The Three Passes Trek.
My first Himalayan adventure – trekking solo to Everest Base Camp (EBC) in the height of winter – definitely ticked few boxes on the “firsts” list (first time not being able to flush a toilet because the water in the basin was frozen).
Yet Everest Base Camp is merely a warm-up for what the Himalaya really have to offer.
Like the EBC trek, the Three Passes Trek also calls Sagarmatha National Park home; and like the EBC trek, the Three Passes Trek also (typically) begins and ends in Lukla. In fact, the trails are the same for a bit, so I will be returning to some of the places I fell in love with last year.
I will again be heading out alone, without a guide or porter, and with much of the same gear that accompanied me last year (a gear list is on its way). This trek is a longer and more remote than the EBC trek, but hopefully my experience last year will give me foundation enough for another successful trip this time around.
So what are the “three passes” of this trek? They are (clockwise):
- Renjo La 17,677 ft / 5,388 m
- Cho La 17,651 ft / 5,380 m
- Kongma La 18,159 ft / 5,535 m
In addition to crossing these three high passes, there are three trekking peaks (as in no mountaineering equipment required) that can all be easily accessed from the Three Passes Trail. They are (clockwise):
- Gokyo Ri 17,989 ft / 5,483 m
- Kala Pattar 18,209 ft / 5,550 m (although I’ve seen this listed at 18,514 ft / 5,643 m)
- Chukhung Ri 18,209 ft / 5,550 m
Last time around I made it up both Kala Patthar and Chukhung Ri, so I’ll probably be skipping them in favor of Gokyo Ri, a trip to Gokyo Lakes (some of the world’s highest), and possibly a visit to the 19,049 ft / 5,806 m summit of Pokalde Peak (Dolma Ri).
I am trying to figure out the Pokalde Peak permit situation (Do I need one? How much is it? Where do I get it?), but ultimately, my summit attempt will depend on what kind of time I’m making and the conditions once I get within striking distance.
Which direction I am going to hike, I still don’t know (and I might not know until I arrive in Namche Bazaar, but apparently a counter-clockwise trek takes slightly less time than a clockwise journey.
Unfortunately, my time in Nepal will (again) be limited, so I am fervently praying to the mountain gods for undelayed flights to and from Lukla, and for weather on par with the near perfect conditions I saw last year.
Regardless of what happens, I am sure it will be an adventure (that hopefully does not result in my death).
Think I should opt to skip the Three Passes Trek in favor of something else this winter? Have an answer to my looming permit question? Leave a comment and let me know!