Published: April 14th 2010April 5th 2010
" All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole "
After visiting Nepal for the first time in 2008 doing the stunningly beautiful treks of Annapurna Circuit + Annapurna Basecamp, I simply could not get enough of this splendid and exciting country. The decision to come back for more mountain adventures next year was very easy to make. This time a walk from Jiri and all the way up to Everest Basecamp including Gokyo Valley + Cho La Pass + Kongma La + other sidetrips was on my agenda.
I did a fair bit of reading and excercise before I went to be prepared for what was to come. Since I decided not to have a porter or guide with me ( only for the Cho La Pass & Kongma La crossings ) I think being fit and a little bit knowledgeable could only be an advantage when it came to the appreciation of this long and beautiful trekking route. I knew that the walking from Jiri to Namche Bazaar would be particularly challenging.
I also knew that the main key to complete my targeted route in an enjoyable and human
way was to pack as light as possible.
My backpack ( 2 kg ) : Sleeping bag 2 kg, Camera 3 kg, Down Jacket + Primaloft pants 2 kg, Gloves1-Socks3-Tshirt2-Sweater1-Underwear4-Toiletries-Cap-Headtorch-Snacks-Book1-Map 1:100.000-Water , . . . Crocks 100g. Total = 14 kg ( about )
I bought my bus ticket from Kathmandu to Jiri for 495,- Npr through Himalayan Magic Adventues in Thamel the day before.
When I arrived early next morning at the Old Bus Station I was surprised to see that we were being transported in a fairly new Toyota minibus and not the typical Nepali-style-bus I had expected.
The drive all the way to Jiri took nearly 8h30min which included a 30 minute lunchstop along the way. With still some daylight left I was able to check out this small village and the starting point for next days walk. Stayed at Cherdung Hotel and Lodge - 100 Npr
Day 1 : Jiri - Kenja 20 km.
When I woke up in the morning I realized that I was not the only guest in Jiri. The annual SoluKhumbu Marathon race with runners + staff from Europe and Nepal, was making the headlines in this small and
seemingly quiet village as they were about to prepare themselves for a tough and challenging 2-3 week marathon run to EBC and beyond. Good luck to them :-)
Start from Jiri at 6.40 am. The first ascent up to Mali at 2200 m. was quite a gentle walk compared to some of the other passes I had to negotiate later along the way. A little bit tricky to find the right trail in some places and I had to ask the locals a few times just to make sure I was heading the right way. Arrived in Shivalaya 1770 m. at 9 am.
From Shivalaya and onwards the trail was very obvious.
If the walk had been "gentle" until now it soon changed once I got out of Shivalaya. The next stage was only up-up-up and took me 1000 m. higher to the Deurali Pass at 2705 m. , the first of 4 passes on the way to Namche Bazaar. A good place to have lunch and cool of from the heat. Arrived there at 11.55 am
From Deurali it was downhill all the way to Bandhar and from there a pretty straightforward walk to Kenja at
1630 m. Arrived there at 3.50 pm and stayed at Buddha Guesthouse, 20 Npr for a small room. A cold shower and a warm dhal baht was a perfect end to an interesting day of walking.
Day 2 : Kenja - Junbesi 13 km
Kenja was "packed" with people from the marathon-group making this peaceful place somewhat busy in the morning-hours as we were all preparing to combat the hills again with a challenging 2000 m. ascent to the Lamjura Pass waiting and then a 1000 m. drop down to Junbesi.
To avoid the heat of the sun and perhaps also the clouds that tend to roll in on the Lamjura Pass in the afternoon, I decided to start early and left Kenja at 7.10 am.
Again the trail was in very good condition and very easy to follow.
It took me 2 hours to get to Sete 2200 m. on a pretty steep trail. From there I continued on to Dakchu 10.30 am at 2820 m. and Goyom 11.15 am at 3060 m. Soon the Lamjura Pass came into sight which was a great feeling of achievement. Arrived there at 1 pm.
This is the highest point
on the route before Namche Bazaar. The place had at least one basic lodge that was open when I was there selling basic food and drinks.
Including me even some of the marathon people needed to recover with a snack-break after the relentless climb up the mountain.
Walking down is always a different story than walking up. The trail from Lamjura Pass and down to Junbesi was pretty tough on the knees especially the first part which consisted of small rocks until I entered the valley that took be to Junbesi.
Except from the marathon-people I only met a few other tourists this day and a whole lot og porters carrying heavy loads.
Arrived in Junbesi at 3.45 pm hoping that I would get a view of the sacred Mount Numbur 6950 m. - "The Protector of Solu". Unfortunately the clouds would not allow me to.
Stayed at Sagarmatha Lodge 50,-Npr. A warm shower ( 80,-Npr ) and some great food prepared by the nicest lodge-owners I could ever wish for was yet another perfect end to a tough,but beautiful day of trekking.
Had a very interesting conversation with a doctor on Tibetan-medicine and his staff who were travelling
through Junbesi on their way up the Dudh Kunda-Pikey Cultural Trail
Day 3 : Junbesi - Jubhing 16 km
I heard that Junbesi was famous for its apples so my choice for breakfast was pretty easy this morning. They were really delicous !
If I had had enough time I think I would have stayed one x-tra day in Junbesi, just to look around and soak up the atmosphere in this nice sherpa village. Since my schedule was a little bit tight I decided I wanted to save my resting days for later in case I needed them when I got higher up in the mountains where altitude sickness could force me to slow down a bit.
While the marathon-people stayed in Junbesi on x-tra day I continued on my mission.
Start from Junbesi at 7.10 am.
A sign just outside the village points to Namche which means going uphill and Phaplu which means going downhill.
As I gradually came higher up I soon had magnificent views back on the Lamjura Pass ridge and the valley I had walked yesterday all the way down to Junbesi.
In Phurteng at 2900 m ( 8.30 am
) the first view of Mount Everest comes into sight. This is a really good place to take a break and admire the views.
A small congregation of hikers were already here when I arrived and one of them, who had stayed here in a lodge overnight, told me that the views of Everest, Thamserku and Kantega in the evening/morning hours, when the clouds did not hide, was absolutely breathtaking.
From Phurteng the trail descended north and soon I could see Ringmo and the Trakshindu La Pass ridge on the other side of the valley.
Arrived in Ringmo 2720 m. at 10.40 am. Some chocolate, biscuits and mineral water can do miracles on the body when the energy level is about to plummit. Everything was available in this small sherpa village and really gave me the necessary strength to tackle the last uphill battle to the famous Trakshindu La 3071m.
It took me 45 minutes to get there from Ringmo. A little bit chilly, and it did not take me long before I started my descent which can be really challenging for those suffering from sore knees.
Passed Nunthala 2220 m. at 1.35 pm before I thought
I was lost in some bushes for a while when suddenly the trail appeared again and took me safely down to the suspension bridge crossing the Dudh Kosi 1510 m. at 3.30 pm.
After 1400 m. of downhill walking it was all about uphill again after I had crossed the suspension bridge. I decided to walk no further than the Rai village of Jubhing 1680 m. this day and arrived here at 4.05 pm pretty tired and hungry after a long and exciting day on the trails.
Stayed at the Green Bamboo Lodge 20,-Npr. No other guests except me and two other walking companions from Brazil.
Taking showers at the lodges can sometimes be an adventure in itself. The creative self-made shower-constructions providing running water is sometimes put together in all kinds of strange fashions and in weird looking places. At the Green Bamboo Lodge I paid 20,-Npr for a shower in a tight dark lonely basement only accompanied by a small candle and loads of running chickens
Day 4 : Jubhing - Cheplung 16 km
A tough 1200 m. uphill walk was the first task waiting for me as I left the friendly Green
Bamboo Lodge in Jubhing at 7 am in the morning. The weather was beautiful yet again.
In Khari Khola 2010 m. ( at 7.50 am ) I made a visit to the colourful Pema Namding Monastary which also served as a great viewpoint of the valley below and ahead. Highly recommended. ! The village seemed to have plenty of lodges.
The trail continued with a steep and hard walk up to Bupsa 2360 m. ( arrived there 9.30 am ) sitting on the hill above Khari Khola. This place also had spectacular views of the surrounding valley. A great place to stay overnight I think. My pick of the day !
Had a snack-break at the impressive Everest Guesthouse meeting other trekkers on their way in both directions sharing the latest trail news.
The final climb up took me to the Kari La Pass 2840 m. ( 11.20 am ) , the last of the 4 passes between Jiri & Namche Bazaar, with good views of the flights coming in and out of Lukla. After Kari La the trail became a little bit wet and slippy for a while with some slightly tricky sections keeping me fully concentrated
and focused as a few wrong step could be potentialy fatal.
In Paiya La/Pakhepani I had my last long break with beautiful views towards the Dudh Koshi River Valley and some of villages dotting the Lukla to Namche trail.
Still with some hours of daylight left I set my eyes on Cheplung. The 500 m. walk down to Surkey 2290 m. ( 3.20 pm ) was quite tough on the knees. From there I made the last push up to Cheplung 2700 m. and arrived there at 5 pm.
At Hill Top Lodge they offered me a free room with great views and the best bed I had on my whole trip all together. There were no other guests here this day even though Cheplung sits strategically where the trail from Jiri meets the busy Lukla - Namche trail. I think most people who fly in to Lukla tend to spend their first night in Pakhding further up the valley.
Day 5 Cheplung - Namche Bazaar 13 km
From the moment I stepped out of my lodge in Cheplung at 7.20 am in the morning heading for Namche, I knew that the peaceful and quiet trails I
had walked up until now from Jiri would be a different story from now on. With more than 50 flights coming in and out of Lukla every day in peak season, packed with people with pretty much the same mountain ambitions, the traffic on the trail has to get more congested. Less space and more noise was the melody from now on . . .
Soon after I had left Cheplung I crossed the Thado Koshi Khola bridge with nice view straight on to Kusum Kangru 6367 m. on my right. Reached Pakhding at 9 am, checked my e-mail and continued on to Monjo where I paid 1000,- Npr and had to register at the official entrance gate in to Sagarmatha National Park. After Jorsale the climb up to Namche Bazaar was a steep challenge, but I felt great after completing 4 big Passes already in the last 5 days :-)
Arrived in Namce Bazaar at 2.30 pm. Stayed at Namche Hotel 200 Npr.
Day 6 : Rest day Namche Bazaar
Day 7 : Namche Bazaar - Mong La 3 km
The weather was beautiful with perfect blue sky when I left Namche 8.20 am
heading for the Gokyo Valley and the real big mountains. The rest day had given me a lot of energy back after the walk in from Jiri but also one x-tra day of acclimatization which is so important up here to avoid getting trouble with altitude sickness.
I took the easy path out of Namche via Chhorkung which runs almost level all the way to Sanasa with beautiful views of Cholatse, Taboche Peak, Mt Everest, Ama Dablam among a few. A really good taste of what there is to come later.
In Sanasa there is a big yellow sign saying that this is where the trail splits. With lots of big groups following the Tengboche-trail I was happy to turn left and follow the way up to Gokyo with seemingly much less people and away from the major crowds.
A fairly steep initial ascent soon gave outstanding views of Thamserku 6608 m. and Kangtega 6685 m. in particular. They both looked really impressive from this point.
After a gradual last climb I finally arrived in Mong La 3973 m. at 12.05 pm. A great place with magnificent views sitting high above the valley below.
Lots of people here
when I arrived, but I think most of them only stopped here for lunch and later continued down to Phortse Thenga about 300 m. further down.
I was really happy with my decision to stay here one night and not continue further on. With the amazing views and quiet atmosphere this place had everything I needed.
Checked in at the cosy Snowland View Lodge run by a really nice sherpa family. Except from me there were just a few other people here this night.
Day 8 : Mong La - Dole 5 km
Instead of making an early start I decided to spend the morning hours sitting outside the lodge eating breakfast and just admire the majestic views of Ama Dablam and all the other snow capped mountains towering in the distance.
Hit the trail at 9.40 am. First on a curvy descent to Phortse Tenga ( 10.40 am ) and then a climb up to Dole with some pretty steep sections along the way. With the views of Cho Oyo at the far end of the valley it really made a perfect background picture as I gradually approached my destination this day.
Arrived in Dole 4090
m. at 11.40 am and stayed at Himalayan Lodge 150 -,Npr. A warm shower 200 ,-Npr.
With plenty of daylight left I made a walk up in the hills above Dole to get even better views of the Gokyo Vallet and the surrounding areas. Again both Kangtega and Thamserku really looked impressive
Day 9 : Dole - Machermo 4 km
Already in Dole I met a few people who struggled a little bit with moderate altitude sickness forcing them to stay one x-tra night or go down again to lower altitudes.
I felt great with no symptoms at all and was pretty confident when I left Dole at 8.05 am in the morning heading for Machermo about 400 m. further up the Gokyo Valley.
Again this was a short but still great day of walking on a barren landscape on an easy-to-follow trail.
Arrived in Machermo 4410 m. at 10.35 am. Situated in a flat valley where herdsmen used to come to graze their cattle from the lower region.
My main reason to stop and spend one night here and not continue to Gokyo Village was to help my acclimatisation and decrease the risk of getting
trouble with altitude sickness. I later met people who had skipped Machermo and went straight to Gokyo where they had to pay their price with a strong headache.
Another good reason to stay in Machermo is to attend the daily lecture on altitude sickness given by foreign doctors at the Machermo Rescue post.
This place has been open to porters and trekkers since 2003 and provide a rescue service in the trekking season.
When I was there the place had 3 doctors and the 1 hour lecture on Acute Mountain Sickness they gave us was very,very good :-) Highly recommended !!!
Stayed at the nice Namgyal Lodge.
Day 10 : Machermo - Gokyo 6 km
With rumours that there could be a problem finding a bed in Gokyo I decided to make my earliest start so far since Jiri.
It was bitterly cold when I set off from Machermo at 6.05 am on a totally empty trail together with my two companions from Brazil. Once the sun came up about one hour later I could put all my warm gear back in my backpack and enjoy a very comfortable walk up to Gokyo.
pretty steep ascent from Pangla the terrain became more flat and I reached First Lake - Lonponga Tsho at 7.50 am and soon after Second Lake - Taboche Tsho with an outstanding view of Pharilapche Peak 6017 m. This place was really beautiful so I decided to take a long break here just to admire mother nature at its best.
As a solo traveller it can sometimes be difficult to get a bed on the mountain as big groups tend to make reservasions in advance + the idea that 2 people or more in one room generate more money in the dining hall than a single person like me.
When I arrived in Gokyo at 10.25 am I had to go several rounds before I finally found myself a place to stay at Gokyo Guesthouse 100,-Npr. This problem would follow me for the next few days as well.
After a big lunch ( at least I ate for two people this day ) I decided to check out this beautiful area and do a walk up to Fourth Lake and Fifth Lake next to the Ngozumpa Glacier.
With Cho Oyo making the most perfect snow covered background this
walk is highly recommended. From Scoundrel Viewpoint at 5000 m., close to the Fifth Lake, the views were absolutely immaculate with Mount Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Chakung Peak, Cho Oyo and many many more standing out. Truly epic :-)
Day 11 : Gokyo - Tagnag 4 km ( including Gokyo Ri )
A visit to Gokyo is not complete if you do not make it up to Gokyo Ri.
A little after 5 o'clock in the morning I jumped out of my warm sleeping bag, put my bad headtorch on and entered the cold darkness outside hoping that my poor visibilty would not let come me face to face with an angry yak as I walked along.
It took me 1h 35m. to reach the top 5360 m. and by the time I was there the sun was just about to make its way through, but still very cold. Among all the prayer flags and the wonderful crisp clear 360 degree view there were only a few other people this early morning which made it a nice opportunity to take great uninterrupted photos from this truly magical viewpoint.
From Gokyo Ri it is possible to see 4
of the 7 highest mountians in the world - Mt Everest, Cho Oyo, Lhotse and Makalu.
With flat batteries on my camera and 10 numb fingers, all caused by the freezing cold conditions, I made my way down again to Gokyo Village happy and privileged to have had the chance to experience such amazing views on Gokyo Ri.
After a quick breakfast at my lodge my feet were back on the trail again as I headed for my next destination, Tagnag.
According to my map I had to cross the Ngozumpa Glacier somewhere between First Lake and Second Lake in order to make it to Tagnag this morning, but rumours had been going around in the village that this trail was impassable at the moment because of flooding.
Instead there was a brand new trail going straight up on the moraine from Gokyo and from there into the glacier and then crossing over to Tagnag.
I was happy that there were quite a few people going for the new trail, as I did not want to get lost somewhere on the glacier alone not knowing where I was heading. One sherpa told me stories about a couple
of backpackers who once had to spend the night alone out on the Khumbu glacier near Lobuche because they got totally lost. The message must be do not to underestimate such crossings.
Despite all the people on the trail this morning and the "easy" visible path, I found it particularly intimidating to enter and leave the massive glacier. As you walk in and out of the glacier there is a massive wall of small and big loose rocks hanging over you on one side that can break loose and fall down at any time. You can literally hear that the glacier is constantly moving and changing as you go.
At least that was what I felt when I did this :-)
Arrived in Tagnag 4700 m. at 10.30 am. Checked in at brand new Tashi Friendship Lodge where my lunch spaghetti cost 400 -,Npr and a Sprite 300,-Npr.
In Namche Bazaar I had organized myself with a porter/guide who would meet me here in Tagnag and walk with me on the Cho La Pass and Kongma La crossings.
As I approached Tagnag this morning he was already there waiting greeting me with open arms as I arrived.
He told me that coming up here had been quite a struggle for him, as he had crossed the Ngozumpa Glacier on the "broken trail" walking in icy cold water to his feet barely making the crossing in one piece. He said that many other people had turned around at this specific point !
Day 12 : Tagnag - Cho La Pass - Lobuche 12 km
With potentially long hours of walking ahead of us this day we decided to make an early start from Tagnag and at 5.25 in the morning we were on our way.
The trail went gradually up through the Tagnag Khola Valley on a frozen ground with small patches of ice here and there. A little bit further up, the valley opened up more and behind us we could see the sun starting to throw its first lights on the snowy mountains towering above the Gokyo Valley.
After about 1 1/2 hour of steady uphill we reached a rim and from there the trail dipped about 100 m. down again where a big organized group was about to leave their overnight campsite heading the same way as us.
From this point and
onwards the trail became a little bit more tricky and technical. First a balancing crossing on boulders and rocks for a while and then the final steep ascent on loose rocks and patches of snow and ice.
The trail was already a little bit congested when I started on the final steep ascent and I could see quite a few people having trouble getting up there who literally had to be pulled up by their porters and guides. This is definately not a place where you want to make a mistake. Just a few weeks earlier a porter was killed here apparently hit by a sliding rock.
Arrived on the Cho La Pass at 8.45 am.and there were already quite a few people there by then. The views from the Pass were absolutely stunning with Mount Numbur 6959 m., Kyajo Ri 6186 m. + Tengi Ragi Tau 6938 m. on one side & Lobuche East Peak 6119 m. and Baruntse 7220 on the other side, just to mention a few.
Coming down again on the other side of the valley was definately on my top 5 list of the most beautiful stages on the whole trek. With the
impressive close views of Cholatse, Arakam Tse, Taboche Peak & Ama Dablam a little bit further back, the setting as I walked was truly undescribable.
Just before I reached Dzonghla at 11.25 am I was overtaken by the crazy marathon people again since Junbesi. Today they had run all the way from Gokyo, crossing the Cho La Pass and were heading down to the same destination as me, Lobuche.
Arrived in Lobuche 4930 m. at 3.00 pm. Stayed at the Alpine Lodge
Day 13 : Lobuche - Gorak Shep 3 km ( including Everest Base Camp )
Many people tend to struggle with their sleep and appetite at altitudes like in Lobuche making their days more strenous and demanding. I personally felt great all the way and never had any problem with neither of the two. Maybe I was lucky or perhaps I was rewarded for being loyal to my acclimatisation game plan ?
The marathon-people were about to line up for one of their final stages when I left my lodge at 7.30 am. They were apparently heading up to Kala Pattar this day and then down again to Tengboche ?
The walk up
to Gorak Shep was on fairly easy and open terrain with lots of people walking in both directions. Again the weather was outstanding :-)
Arrived in Gorak Shep 5180 m. at 9.05 am and managed to get a room at Snowland Highest Inn.
Still with many hours of daylight left, I decided to walk up to Everest Basecamp. With the very impressive Nuptse 7861 m. on my right hand side and Khumbutse 6665 m. & Changtse 7533 m. in front of me, towering above the Khumbu Glacier/Icefall, this really was an eyecatching walk.
Reached the official Everest Basecamp point 5364 m. about one hour after leaving Gorak Shep. No expeditions were on when I was there, but still a fair number of day-trip trekkers like me curious to see what this cathedral of ice actually looked like in real life.
Day 14 : Gorak Shep - Lobuche 3 km ( including Kala Pattar )
Still with great fresh memories from Gokyo Ri I was really excited to see what the views from the more famous and popular Kala Pattar would be like.
I decided to get up early hoping to catch the sunrise at the summit and
perhaps avoid the potentially big crowds that often attracts this marvellous viewpoint in high season.
Started from my lodge at 5.45 in the morning and it took me 1h 15 min to reach the summit at 5545 m.
Bitterly cold with -15 degrees Celsius and windy but still stupendous views almost within touching distance of the powerful Pumori -"Everest's Daughter" and with the south face of Mount Everest-"Goddess of the Sky" towering above everyone else looking down at Changtse 7583 m. on the left and Lhotse + Nuptse 7861 m. on the right.
Looking south the Khumbu glacier sneaks its way down-valley with beautiful panorama views of Ama Dablam, Kangtega and Thamserku and many more.
On the summit I noticed there was a tent camp not far from the foot of Pumori. One guide I talked to told me that this was Pumori Basecamp and there were two expeditions going on there at the moment.
Pumori sits 8 km west of Mount Everest and in sherpa language the mountain is called "Unmarried Daughter" .
Described by someone as "White and sweet as an ice cream cone" this mountain was first climbed in 1962. Although not very technical Pumori
is very prone to avalanches which makes it quite a dangerous mountain to climb.
With frostbites on my fingers and yet another amazing bird-view-look of the Himalayas I descended back down again just when the sun was about to share some of its nice, warm welcoming heat.
From Gorak Shep I had an easy walk back to Lobuche. Getting a bed for the night turned out to be much more difficult. Despite arriving there very early in the day I was told in every lodge I went that they they did not have a place for me. My porter-guide tried to do some lobbying for me at the lodges and I did a second attempt with the lodge owners to try and convince them about my case. Still no luck !
After I had almost given up they suddenly found space for me at Sherpa Lodge. With a room that had a bad smell of kerosene, was freezing cold, noisy and dark this was as far away from a 5 Star as I could possibly come, but I did not care. I was more than happy with my little cave and grateful to the lodge owners who found
a spot for me this night.
Day 15 : Lobuche - Kongma La - Chhukung ( including Chhukung Ri )
Of all the places I had been so far on the mountain, Lobuche was definately not among my favourites.
I was therefore more than happy to leave early with the crossing of Kongma La waiting on top of the valley
Start from Lobuche at 6.15 am.
The first 10 minutes from Lobuche took us up to the edge of the Khumbu Glacier. We then spent about 1 hour traversing the glacier on a fairly visible trail dotted with small stone cairns here and there. Since the trail is not very obvious in many places it is really easy to get lost sometimes !
After the glacier-crossing the trail dipped down into an open field where yaks were grazing on the frozen ground.
From this point it was easy to pick out the first part of trail heading up into the valley.
After crossing the open field the trail headed up on a grassy slope for a while before being replaced by a tiny,not so visible path littered with rocks and stones on the final third.
Still there were small stone cairns marking the way in some places , but they were not always easy to see in this landscape og boulders and rocks.
I would definately say that one should be a little bit careful on this last section as it looked to be a little bit prone to rock falls as you walk on the left side of the valley with the mountain side literally hanging over you.
Just before reaching the summit the prayer flags came into sight and at 9.15 am I arrived on top of the spectacular Kongma La Pass 5535 m. very,very proud to have made it.
Unlike Gokyo Ri, Cho La Pass and Kala Pattar there were absolutely NO people here this morning except me, my fabolous porter-guide, the colourful prayer flags and the stunning views.
Kongma La Pass sits as a small ridge between Pokalde Peak 5806 m. on one side and Mehra Peak/Kongma Tse 5820 m. on the other. With wonderful views overlooking the Khumbu Valley-side and the Chhukung/Imja Valley-side, this not so "famous/popular" place is something I can highly recommend.
The walk down to Chukung took us 2h30 min still with outstanding views
in all directions as we went. Just a few people here and there and not even close to the crowds I had encountered on my previous days.
Arrived in Chhukung 4730 m. at 12.30 pm and checked in at Chhukung Resort. Fairly busy place with lots of trekkers heading for Island Peak.
After a farewell lunch with my excellent guide he continued his long way back to Lukla while I decided to walk up Chhukung Ri still with some hours left before dark.
It took me 1h40min to reach Chhukung Ri at 5550 m.
If the walk up here did not take my breath away the overwhelming views certainly did. Not even the finest words in the dictionary can justify the sensational panorama this place has on offer.
With Nuptse West 7745 m., Nuptse 7879 m., Nuptse East 7845 m, Lhotse 8516, Lhotse Shar 8383 m., the four-sided-pyramid of Makalu 8463 m., Island Peak 6189 m., Baruntse 7220 m., Ama Dablam 6812 m. all forming a magnificient snow-wall of mountains in front of you this place will literally blow you away with its awesome beauty.
Day 16 : Chhukung - Pangboche 9 km ( including Ama
Dablam Basecamp )
I think the outside temperature in Chhukung during the night must have been one of the coldest so far on my trip and my sleeping bag just about kept me warm enough in my room.
When the sun came up in the morning and I left my lodge at 8.15 am it was starting to get really nice and warm again which made the 3 hour walk down to Pangboche 3860 m. very smooth and comfortable.
After checking in at the nice and friendly Shree Dewa Lodge in Pangboche I decided to make the most out of my day and take the walk up to Ama Dablam Basecamp at 4700 m.
Most people seem to bypass this scenic option to go up and see this incredible Basecamp-area with the outstanding close-up views of this aesthetic mountain.
From Pangboche the trail dropped down to the river where I had to cross a small bridge and from there follow an easy visible trail on the grassy slopes above. Just a few other people and a convoy of yaks and sherpas providing the basecamp further up on the trail as I walked.
Just before I reached the
basecamp area there was a big sign advertising for Ama Dablam Summit Lodge, but I never went there. A great place to have a cup of tea according to some other trekkers I met.
It took me 1h20min to reach the official Ama Dablam Basecamp. Sitting at the foot of this beautiful pyramid of ice I can really understand why so many people rate this mountain as one of the most beautiful in the whole world referring to it as the "Jewel of Khumbu".
October and November are the most popular months to climb Ama Dablam and there were already many expeditions here when I arrived. Until 2008 there have been more than 2000 summits and 18 fatalities on this mountain.
After staying in Basecamp for a while I decided to walk further up on a ridge with a trail leading to Advanced Basecamp, to get an even closer view and different angle of the mountain. At the end of this long ridge there are prayer flags and this was my turning point this afternoon. From this point I had prominent views of Taboche Peak 6542 m., Mingbo Glacier and the beauty itself standing at 6848 m.
I can definately highly recommend this side-trip to Ama Dablam Basecamp & beyond to anyone who plans to visit the Khumbu Area in the future.
Day 17 : Pangboche - Namche Bazaar via Khumjung & Khunde 10 km.
Ever since Day 1 on my trekking the weather had been awesome and today as I headed back to Namche Bazaar was no exception. Clear, blue sky and excellent views yet again as I walked along.
Start from Pangboche at 8 am. I think this must have been the busiest day on the trails so far with lots of people and animals moving in both directions. Passed Tengboche 3860 m. at 9.10 am and then a lot of downhill walking to Phunki Tenga 3250 m. at 10 am. From this point it was all uphill again with groups of trekkers and yaks constantly competing for space on this very congested trail up to Sanasa.
Instead of taking the easy way to Namche I continued further uphill to Khumjung and Khunde after I had reached Sanasa at 10.55 am.
Khumjung 3780 m. sits at the base of the holy mountain Khumbila and is the village where Sir Edmund
Hillary built his first school in 1960, which was the beginning of many projects in the Everest region.
It seemed like a very quiet place when I walked through here and not even close to the hustle and bustle a little bit further down in Namche Bazaar.
On my way down again I passed the famous Syangboche runway before finally arriving in Namche Bazaar at 12.30 pm.
Day 18 : Namche Bazaar - Thame - Namche Bazaar 14 km
My inital plan was to visit Thame when I came to Namche for the first time 13 days ago so this time I had no excuse to leave it out.
Thame is situated beneath the mountain wall of Kongde Ri and Parchamo with the Rolwalling Valley going west and sits next to the trail going to the Renjo La Pass.
The walk up to Thame is fairly easy and was once a popular trading route into Tibet.
I started from Namche at 8 am on a very easy-to-follow trail next to the Bhote Khosi River. Reached Thamo at 9.05 am and finally Thame at 10.20 am where an angry aggresive barking dog gave me a "warm"
Thame is perhaps most famous for being the childhood home of Tenzing Norgay but the place also houses the Thame Gompa which is a very popular site for visitors. From the Gompa the are great views overlooking the valley.
There seemed to be quite a few lodges up here but not all of them were open.
Day 19 : Namche Bazaar - Lukla 15 km
Today I had my last day of walking taking me down again to the exitpoint of Lukla.
Nothing special about this trip except that it was a little bit sad to leave this gorgeous area behind which had brought me such an abundance of great scenery and an interesting look into the great sherpa culture. Their hospitality and kindness and the great atmosphere it is just to be on the trails made this walk one of the best I have done so far. I have a feeling that I will be back here some time in the future :-)
Day 20 : Lukla - Kathmandu
Nothing beats the take-off from Tenzing-Hillary Airport . . .exhilirating !!!
My top 7 list :
1. Best Views : Gokyo
Ri - Kala Pattar - Cho La Pass - Kongma La Pass - Chhukung Ri
2. Best lodge : Hill Top Lodge, Cheplung
3. Best food : Spaghetti with basils at Alpine lodge in Lobuche
4. Best shower : Green Bambo Lodge, Jubhing
5. Best apples : Junbesi
6. Toughest ascent : Kenja to Lamjura Pass on Day 2
7. Toughest descent : Trakshindu La - Jubhing on Day 3
There are more photos below