Three Everest passes in ten daysWe had planned a back-to-back trek through Kongma La, Cho La and then the Renjo La Pass.
We began the Khumbu trek on May 4 from Lukla. The weather in Lukla, the gateway to Mt Everest, on the morning of May 4 was pleasantly mild. We took a flight (to Lukla) from Ramechhap as that is easier than getting a direct flight from Kathmandu.
Although most trekkers stay at Phakding, the first camp on the route, we decided to move ahead and try to reach Namche the same day because we wanted to explore the bazaar thoroughly.
Despite the locals warning us not to move towards Namche, we were determined to get there the same day, so we pushed ahead, reaching the bazaar by mid-afternoon.
On the second day of our trek, we reached Chukhung village, the base station for the Kongma La Pass in Khumbu, Solukhumbu. We had planned a back-to-back trek in an anti-clockwise route, hoping to cross Kongma La, Cho La and then the Renjo La Pass. The three Everest passes are considered one of the most exciting treks to the Base Camp, known for being tricky and steep. So the fact that were going to attempt trekking anti-clockwise was something of a challenge and opportunity.
The hike from Chukhung to Kongma La Pass was considerably tough and steep. Fellow trekkers had warned us that crossing Kongma La (5540 m) without proper rest in Chukung was a risky decision. But we took a risk and reached Lobuche crossing Kongma La safely late in the morning of May 8.
When we reached Base Camp, we learned that there were over 500 climbers there and at Camp 1 to ascend Mt Everest. The ropes from Camp 2 were not fixed, and the climbers had to wait till the afternoon of May 9. Tendi Sherpa of TAG Nepal Treks told us that May 15 would be the most likely date to begin the Everest summit. We walked around Base Camp, observed scenarios, met Sherpas and porters, took some pictures and returned to Gorkshep the same day. We hiked to Kalapathhar (5554 m) the next morning.
Dzongla is a beautiful settlement on the foothills of Chola Tse Peak—a great location for an overnight stay while crossing Cho La (5420 m). As we were planning to reach Gokyo by the next day, we checked out from the hotel at 5 am.
Cho La is quite beautiful, but it is less scenic than Kongma La. We enjoyed it all the same.
We reached Gokyo on the evening of May 11. Gokyo was undoubtedly the most beautiful sight we saw during the entire trip. the next morning, we hiked to Fifth Lake and enjoyed the majestic sight of Mt Everest from the base of Cho Oyu.
The Fifth Lake is situated near the top of Ngozumpa Glacier, the longest (36 km) glacier in the Himalayas. You have to cross some parts of the glacier to reach Gokyo from Thangnak after the Cho La pass.
I found walking on the glacier the most tiring and dullest endeavour of the entire trek. We met trekkers who were ascending Gokyo Ri to observe a range of Himalayas. We, however, skipped the peak because we wanted to see Mt Everest from Fifth Lake, which is known to provide a unique view of Everest. Also, we had plans to cross Renjo La the next day, and the view from Rejo La and Gokyo Ri is considered identical.
The morning of May 13 was sunny and beautiful. We reached to Renjo La (5360 m) around 10 am and enjoyed the spectacular 360-degree view of Mt Everest, Mt Makalu, Gokyo Lake, and a number of surrounding peaks from the Himalayas range.
Reaching Renjo La meant it was time for us to end the trip and get back to our everyday lives. The moment was a little emotional for me. This was my second longest trek after the Annapurna half circuit and Tilicho trek I completed in October 2021.
We devoured the breakfast we’d packed and brought with us on the pass—spending over an hour chatting amongst ourselves and admiring the stunning view around us. Then, we descended the steep snow-covered trail and reached Thame, where we stayed overnight.
The next morning we reached Namche Bazar, had breakfast there and then trekked to Phakding, where we stayed the whole of May 14. We spent a chill day on May 15 at Lukla and flew back to Kathmandu (thankfully, directly this time) on May 16.
The Khumbu trek was a challenge. It was pretty expensive too. Anyone wishing to complete the journey needs to be fit, self-disciplined and able to cope with high altitudes. But the overall experience—walking the beautiful trails, meeting other trekkers, admiring the landscape, observing the lives of highlanders and breathing in the fresh unpolluted air—gave me an experience I won’t forget in this lifetime.