Tea House/ Camping
The Island Peak climb at an altitude of 6189m in the famous Khumbu region.
Amazing, mountain views from Island Peak Summit.
Trekking and Climbing
Located on top of the Chhukung glacier between Ama Dablam and Lhotse mountains, Island Peak is the most sought-after trekking destinations because of its challenging geographical conditions. Each year more than 300 groups attempt to scale the summit of Island Peak. This trek offers an excellent opportunity to climb a Himalayan peak (6189m) together with an exhilarating trek in the Everest region. The most difficult section of the climb is a mixed rock and ice wall at a slope of around 45 degrees leading to the narrow summit ridge. The magnificent views from the summit, however, are certainly a fitting reward for your efforts. Before climbing Island Peak, you trek up the Dudh Koshi Valley from Lukla, passing through Namche, Tengboche, and Dingboche. After being acclimatized properly, you then head up the beautiful Imja Khola Valley towards Island Peak for climbing the peak. After successful summit, with ponderous memories of the trekking earlier done, you retrace your route back through Namche to Lukla, and from there on you fly back to Kathmandu. This trip can be done during March to May and September to December.
A physically fit and well acclimatized person is qualified to make an ascent over this peak.
It’s a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. As your plane lands at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, our waiting support team will meet and greet you at the arrivals and escort you to your hotel.
Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence. There will be a guided tour to UNESCO World Heritage Sites Boudhnath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and after that to Pashupatinath, the most popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. You take a tour to Patan also called as Lalitpur (the City of Artisans), which is 5km away from Kathmandu. You will walk through Patan Durbar Square, and delight in the architectural wonders of Malla era. Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Krishna Temple and Golden Temple are the major attractions at the square.
Early morning you will be transferred to Ramechhap airport to catch the Lukla flight. A scenic flight of 15 minutes from Ramechhap brings us to Lukla airport, a cliff-hanging airport in Khumbu from where most of the Everest trekking is started. After meeting the crew, you head up the Dudh Koshi Valley on a well-marked trail and then stay overnight in Phakding.
From Phakding, you cross and re-cross the river on high suspension bridges. Beyond Monjo is the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park which was set-up in order to protect and preserve the fragile mountain environment. You then take a steep hike to Namche, one of the most important stopovers during the trip. If the weather is clear, you get the first glimpse of Mt Everest. Namche is the main trading center in the Khumbu and has a busy Saturday market - a meeting place for the locals and the people from neighboring vicinity.
Namche is tucked away between two ridges amidst the giant peaks of the Khumbu and has an abundance of lodges, teashops and souvenir shops. It is an ideal place to spend a day, acclimatizing to the new altitude before heading off towards Tengboche. To acclimatize, you can visit Khunde village which has Hospital set-up by Sir Edmund Hillary, and Khumjung village which have a monastery known for having famous yeti scalp or take a one hour walk up to the Everest View Hotel above Namche for the sunset view of Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest. There are also good views from the National Park Centre and Museum just above the town.
From Namche, the trail contours on to the side of the valley, high above the Dudh Koshi. You get our first really good views of the great peaks of the Khumbu including Mt Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. Passing by some settlements with numerous teashops, you descend steeply to a bridge over the river at Phunki Tenga. The village is an ideal stopover for lunch. Here you can rest before making the steep climb to Tengboche Monastery, one of the most remarkable monasteries you visit during the whole trek. Although the hike up the zigzag path is tiring, it presents us with many beautiful sights of rhododendron bushes with beautiful birds and superb mountain scenery. Tengboche is famous for its legendary monastery, the largest in the Khumbu. A spectacular panorama of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam rising in the horizon can be seen from here.
You descend downhill through a forest, cross the Imja Khola and climb steadily to the village of Pangboche. This village is directly opposite Ama Dablam [6,812 m], and has exceptional views of the mountain, with the monastery, mani walls and scattered pine trees in the foreground. A further two hours’ walk-through scrub junipers bring you to Dingboche.
A day for acclimatization. You get to wander up the valley to the summit of Nangkartshang Peak (5083m), from where you can get the stupendous 360-degree view of the mountains including Mt. Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Island peak, Amadablam, Kangtega, Thamserku, Taboche and Cholatse. Another option can be a hiking to Chhukung Village (4730m) – the last village before Island Peak. If you want to push yourself a bit harder, you can also climb Chhukung Ri (5550m), from where you can get the impressive view of Imja Tse (Island Peak), Imja Glacier, Ama Dablam, Makalu and Nuptse. In that case an early start from Dingboche is required.
Today, you have an easy walk for about 2 hours, climbing up gradually to the small settlement of Chhukung. Along the way you have great views of Island Peak and the challenge that awaits us.
Another easy day, the trail crosses the river and follows the valley for approx. 3 hours, passing beneath the magnificent south face of Lhotse. The Base Camp is by the side of the Imja glacier, below steep grassy slopes which mark the start of the climb on Island Peak. After you reach there, you will relax and make final preparations for your climb tomorrow.
Crossing the gully above the camp the trail makes a climb for another hour to a narrow ridge, leading on to the glacier. Here it is time to rope-up and put on our crampons as the most interesting part of the climb begins with the glacier crossing. This is followed by the steep snow slope that leads onto the summit ridge. This ridge is wonderfully airy and on reaching the summit you have stunning close-up views of the south face of Lhotse looming over you whilst in the other direction, there are more dramatic mountain views. You descend along the same route, down to the Base Camp.
A contingency day allocated for weather etc.
After descending along the trail to Chhukung, you continue on to Dingboche for lunch. It is then another couple of hours to the lovely village of Pangboche where you will spend the night.
Today you follow the river and, after crossing it, climb back up through birch and rhododendron forest to Tengboche. Kwangde, Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Kantega and Thamserku are just a few of the Himalayan giants to be seen. From Tengboche you descend to the bridge over the Dudh Kosi at Phunki Tenga, where there are water driven prayer wheels, before making our way back to Namche.
Your final day's trek follows the Dudh Koshi back down to Lukla. This last evening calls for a celebration. You have a party with your Sherpa guides and porters. You sample some chang (local beer) and try out some Sherpa dance steps. Altogether an end to a memorable trip on a merry note.
As your trek has concluded, you pack up early and head for the airstrip to hop a flight back to Ramechhap. And you will be transferred to Kathmandu by the private vehicle. The rest of your day is free to do your own things. You could do some last-minute shopping and packing, or even go down for a stroll in Thamel, an internationally known hub for tourists in Asia.
Your Nepali support team will take you to the airport for your flight home. (Or stay longer for short tours such as game drive at National parks, rafting, Tibet tours, mountain biking etc).
Everest trekking doesn’t need tremendous logistics in terms of accommodation as you will find plenty of clean and friendly lodges along the trail. You often have to share rooms but you can also stay in single rooms where possible. Rooms are basic, normally just a bed with a pillow and blankets. A few have electric blanket, hot bags (luxury lodges) and all have a spacious dining room-lounge. We will accommodate you and your group in a comfortable local lodge each day. The Guide coordinates with the local lodge owners and a porter is sent ahead to book the required rooms for the group (rooms cannot always be booked in advance). Please remember that some of them are very basic and a sense of adventure is necessary. It is cheaper to stay in lodge rather than organizing a camping trek.
LODGE TREK: Meals are included in our price and are taken in lodges available along the trail. You can find a considerable variety of Nepali (rice, curry & lentil, momo, noodles, chapatis etc.) and Western food (pizza, pasta, sandwich, chips, porridge, toast, pancake, soup etc.) as well as drinks (coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and beer). The Guide suggests you the best option as per the availability.
GAP Trek: You will have to make your own eating arrangements in the lodges available along the trail. Expect to spend around $25-$30 a day for food. Guide, accommodation and porters are covered in the price.
On GAP trek and Lodge trek, you will be provided filtered water about 3-4 liters per person per day. The good thing about such water is it doesn’t smell chlorine. We normally use Sawyer Filters. However, you can also buy bottled water in tea houses. You can also bring water purification pills in case you want to drink water from local taps.
PERSONAL EXPENSES– MONEY TO TAKE ON TREK
Money requirement depends largely on type of trek style, duration and trekking region. For a two-week Everest trek, you can take about $200-$300, more if you intend to get more table drinks (alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages), snacks while walking (a few smaller shops are available along the trail in some areas), souvenirs, battery charge, internet, hot shower (available in some places) etc. If you are on ‘GAP’ trek style you need to pay for all your meals. Approximately $25-$30 a day should be enough to cover your meals. We pay for your accommodation at mountain hut (tea house) along the trail and bear all the expenses of staffs assigned by us, plus extra bar bills, snacks, hot shower, battery charge, internet etc.
You can change money at a Bank or the money exchange counter in cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara. Many Tourist class Hotels have money exchange facilities. For Trekking, there are Banks and exchange counters at major Tourist hubs like Namche and Lukla. These days, there are availability of ATMs everywhere in Kathmandu and some in Lukla and Namche.
Tips are appreciated by your support team after the completion of your trekking in Nepal. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. As a suggestion, we advise that you can allocate 5- 10 % of the total tour cost as tips. It is recommended that you talk to the members and hand it over individually as per the hierarchy on the last day of the trek.
GROUP SIZE ON FIXED DEPARTURE
If you opt to join our ‘fixed departure trip’, you are likely to be joining people from different countries of any age group except minors. The size of group varies, minimum no of persons required to operate a trip is 2 pax and the maximum is 15 people.
For a Private Booking, any number size from 1 pax to 20 pax is acceptable and can be comfortably organized. We go for special planning for handling group size bigger than 20 pax.
GROUP LEADER AND CREW
We provide different options concerning leadership in order to match your requirements:
1) Western leader
2) Trained Nepali Trek leader (experienced and knowledgeable)
3) Sherpa Guide (handles the logistics and guides you and your team on the trek)
The Sherpa guide (commonly called Sirdar) will be accompanied by a crew of porters. We provide 1 porter for 2 members.
Communication during Gokyo Valley and Everest Base Camp Trek is not challenging but there are certain things to be considered. For using internet, Wifi service is available in lower altitudes. You have to pay extra charge for this service about $5 (per stay) up to Namche though you can’t be really sure about signal strength. Beyond Namche, teahouses normally don’t have WiFi facility. A better option is to use Everest Link network which works throughout the region. It has better connectivity and faster speed. You can buy the data package at approximately $10 (1GB) and $5 (512 MB) valid for 30 days. You can also use local service provider (both for internet and mobile network) but they don’t work properly in some places as you go higher. If it is crucial for you to keep in contact with your family or others, we can provide you a mobile satellite phone (rental charge on request).
FLIGHT / LAND TRANSFERS
The starting and ending point of this Gokyo Valley and Everest Base Camp Trek is Lukla, which is connected by a 30 mins’ flight from Kathmandu. We will arrange flight and airport pick up and drop transfers as per the itinerary.
LUGGAGE WHILE TREKKING
During Everest trekking, your main luggage will be carried by porter. Please keep your luggage as light as possible around 12 – 15 kgs for flight safety and porter welfare as per IPPG standard. You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-block, spare jacket etc. You can leave your valuable items at your hotel in Kathmandu while trekking. Many hotels have a locker system and provide a deposit slip for the valuables kept under the hotel’s safekeeping.
TYPICAL DAY ON TREK
Lodge/ Tea House Trek, GAP Trek
A typical day while trekking in Nepal consists of about 7-8 hours of activity. Each morning after packing our bags and having a good breakfast, we set off on the day’s walk. After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon’s walk is generally shorter and we usually arrive at our destination in time for afternoon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the village, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. On some days, we will arrive at our destination by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free. After dinner, the evening will often be spent playing cards and reliving the day’s adventures, before heading off to bed for a well-earned sleep.
TREKKING GEARS & EQUIPMENT
You will need walking boots, sleeping bag (4 seasons/ -20C rated), waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, sun-block and day pack. Comprehensive list of equipment will be provided once you book your trip. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money buying extra equipment and clothing before your trip. Majority of these gears can be bought or hired at reasonable rates in Kathmandu.
GEARS AVAILABLE IN KATHMANDU
There are numerous suppliers of trekking gears in Kathmandu supplying genuine branded items or imitations depending on your choice and price. You can get anything from down jackets and sleeping bags to socks or thermal wears that you need for your trek. They might not be the best but good enough for the trek considering the price.
Security of our clients is our foremost priority. All our guides are licensed by Nepal Government. Our guides and support crew are carefully chosen for your trips. They will ensure your safety and security throughout your trip. During your trek, you will be sleeping in local teahouses. You have to take precautions yourself at all times. Never leave your baggage unattended and keep your lodge room locked when you go out.
MEETING AND GREETING AT AIRPORT
You need to pass on your International flight details to us for a “meeting and greeting” service at airport. You just pass the customs desk and come out of the terminal building where you will see someone standing with a placard with either ‘Explore Himalaya’ or your name written on it. Our airport representative or tour officer will greet you and welcome you with a garland.
We ensure liability as indicated in itinerary and list of services. If the holiday is cut short or completed earlier than the projected period upon client’s wish, we shall not be responsible or make refund against unutilized days or services. Clients need to pay for hotels/services incurred in Kathmandu or elsewhere in such cases.
CLIMATE AND BEST TIME TO GO
The best seasons for trekking in Nepal are Autumn (from Mid-September till November end), and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher every day. The nights are cold (between -10 C to 5C) but the days are sunny and hot (between 10C to 20C). The mornings are usually clear, with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night. Trekking during the monsoon and winter is not recommended, as the visibility during monsoon is limited, upper parts and high passes could be covered with snow in winter.
March, April, October and November are the most favored months. Please choose the date that is convenient for you.
The itinerary for this Gokyo, Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp Trek is a standard itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation while on trek, you can modify it to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of trek completion should always coincide with the original itinerary. You should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip into the remotest region, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in itinerary. In such cases, we or your guide will suggest the best alternative similar to your original.
HEALTH ISSUES AND VACCINATIONS
As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the beginning of your trip. We recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and polio. The main health consideration during Everest Trekking is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor and purchase them in Kathmandu. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and handle the low oxygen rate.
If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for trekking in high altitude areas before booking. We suggest that you take some pain-killing pills with you and enough medicine for cold, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills will greatly help for those who are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions.
FIRST AID KIT
We supply a medical bag with standard medicines prescribed by trekking doctors and a user’s manual. Since our staffs/guides are not qualified for suggesting medications to western clients, we would request you to use the medicines upon your own risk. It is safer and more reliable if you have your own medicine kit and not depend on what we have.
All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. You can also get “On Arrival Visa” at entry points. For doing Everest Base Camp Trek, you can come with a 30 days visa which costs US $ 50. You should have a passport size photo to get it at airport upon arrival. Some countries’ nationals need to get visa prior their arrival. Please check http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa for detailed information.
JOIN A GROUP OR PRIVATE TRIP
Our trips are available on both fixed departure and private basis. If you are looking for a group to join this Everest Trek, please check our ‘Fixed Departures’ link for availability, dates and price. If you would like to travel independently, or with your friends, families & colleagues, you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient timeframe for any number of people (minimum 1 & maximum 20 at a time).
If you want to do something that is not included in our trip list, we are ready to tailor your trip to suit your exact requirements. In short, we will make every effort to meet your needs.
RESCUE / EVACUATIONS
We take your safety and security very seriously, and make sure that nothing untoward happen to you. However, if anything serious like sickness or a casualty occurs, we will do everything to transfer you to the nearest hospital. As you are responsible for all the expenses incurred in evacuation, please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it.
Before joining this Everest Trekking, we recommend you take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation. Our staff will collect your insurance details before you leave for the trek.
We are among the few companies in Nepal to receive Travelife Certificate Award https://www.travelife.info for our long-term efforts in sustainable practices.
1.Care for porters and staffs
We ensure that all the porters and other staffs going into high altitude conditions during Everest treks are provided with adequate clothing and equipment. All our porters carry less than 30 kg and underage porters are strictly prohibited in our operations. We run the trek according to the guidelines of the International Porter Protection group (IPPG – www.ippg.net).
Wonderful environment of the Himalayas is also an extremely fragile one. Increasing population density and numbers of trekkers threaten the very beauty of Nepal. At Explore Himalaya, we are extremely conscious about the environment and aim to minimize our impact as much as possible.
As deforestation is one of the greatest environmental threats, we do not have campfires and use LPG gas or kerosene for cooking as an alternative fuel to wood. We don’t use plastic bottles. We also discourage trekkers from using wood-fueled hot showers in lodges along the way. Many lodges, however, now provide solar hot showers, a far eco-friendlier alternative.
Garbage disposal is another major problem and some of the busier trails can, at times, appear strewn with litter. Our staff members are well motivated towards eco-friendly practices. Our staff carry garbage bag with them all the time and collect our garbage and other litters they find on trail, and dispose them on the designated area. We also volunteer to bring garbage down to Lukla while returning back. Our aim is to help protect and preserve this beautiful environment for future generations of trekkers to enjoy.
Explore Himalaya works with the motto ‘Development through Tourism’. Keeping in line with this motto, Explore Himalaya Community Service Project (EHCSP) has been conceived to empower underprivileged, marginalized, poor and minority segments of Nepal.
Since its inception, EHCSP has been incessantly facilitating and advocating for school education, health, community development, forest conservation, agro practices and culture preservation. A certain amount of your trip money goes to these projects. For more details on our CSR initiatives, please visit https://www.explorehimalaya.com/csr/
Your booking of this trip be confirmed by email once we receive your deposit of $1000 and the signed copy of booking form and contract. The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 months prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.
If you cancel your booking, the following scale of charges will apply: • 2 months before departure – Loss of deposit (US$ 300) • 29 days to 2 months before departure – 30% of total trip cost • 10 to 28 days before departure – 60% of total trip cost • Less than 10 days before departure – 100% of total trip cost
In addition to your trip, we can organize extensions both within Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan etc. You may want to try water rafting or a jungle safari in Nepal or Nepal Cultural Tour. You may as well take a trip to Tibet or Bhutan, whichever seems more appealing to you.
It is fundamental to acknowledge that Annapurna Trekking is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary is taken only as a guideline. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by International or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural casualties etc. In such cases, Explore Himalaya shall provide suitable alternatives which will be decided upon mutual agreement. If you have any questions regarding this trip, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or directly by phone: +977-1-4518100. We answer all enquiries within 24 hours.
The Everest or Solu Khumbu region lies in the eastern part of Nepal. Inhabited by the mountain people who have lived in harmony with their surroundings for hundreds of years, the Solu Khumbu region has still retained its age-old practices. The region has some of the world’s tallest peaks including Everest (8848m). This region, along with Annapurna region, is ranked as one of the most popular trekking destinations in Nepal. The villages and places lying in this region are situated above 2000m. Solu at the south includes villages like Junbesi, Phaplu and Chiwong. Pharak is situated between Solu and Khumbu. Khumbu includes villages named Namche, Thame, Khumjung, Lobuche, Pangboche, Tengboche etc. The major mountains are Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Nuptse, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kantega, Mera Peak, Island Peak etc.
SAGARMATHA (MT. EVEREST) NATIONAL PARK
Sagarmatha National Park is the highest national park in the world. It was formally opened to public in July 19, 1976. The park covers an area of 1,148 sq km. It rises from its lowest point of 2845 m (9335 ft) at Jorsale to 8848m (29,029 ft) up to the summit of Everest. The park’s area is very rugged and steep, with its terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. It includes three peaks higher than 8000 m – Mt Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu. In 1979 the park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s visitor centre is located at a hill in Namche Bazaar, the fabled town of Everest trekking. The park’s southern entrance is a few hundred metres north of Monjo at 2835m. Sagarmatha Pollution Control, funded by the World Wildlife Fund and the Himalayan Trust, was established in 1991 to help preserve Everest’s environment. About a hundred species of birds and more than twenty species of butterflies have made this park their home. Musk deer, wild yak, red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan thars, deer, langur monkeys, hares, mountain foxes, martens, and Himalayan wolves are found in the park.
The climate you experience during the Everest Base Camp Trek can be divided into four climate zones owing to the gradual rise in altitude. The climatic zones include a forested lower zone, a zone of alpine scrub, the upper alpine zone which includes upper limit of vegetation growth, and the Arctic zone where no plants can grow. The types of plants and animals that are found depend on the altitude. In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron are found. All vegetation that is found above this zone is shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. At an elevation of 5,750m begins the permanent snow line in the Himalayas. From this point there is no sign of greenery or vegetation. A common animal sighted in the higher reaches is the hairy animal yak. Dzokyo a sterile male crossbreed between a yak and a cow is used to move goods along the trail. Red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, wild yak, and Himalayan black bear are some of the exotic animals that are found in this region. A variety of birds can be sighted in the lower regions.
Rising to the height of 8848m, the world’s highest mountain was named in 1865 after Sir George Everest. The mountain got its Nepali name Sagarmatha during 1960s, when the Government of Nepal gave the mountain the official Nepali name. In Sanskrit Sagarmatha means “Head of the Sky”. The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolungma or Qomolangma, which means “Goddess Mother of the Snows”. Climbers wishing to scale the peak have to obtain an expensive permit from the Nepal Government. More information on royalty can be found at https://www.tourismdepartment.gov.np/mountaineering-royalty. Everest Base Camp, which serves as a resting area and base of operations for climbers organizing their attempts for the summit, is located at the Khumbu glacier at an elevation of 5364 m (17,600 ft). It receives an average of 450 mm (18 in) of precipitation a year. The climate of Mount Everest is extreme. In July, the warmest month, the average summit temperature is -19° C (-2° F).
George Mallory, a famous British adventurer, was one of the first climbers to attempt Everest. When he was asked why he wanted to climb Everest, he replied ‘Because it is there’- the line has become immortal in the history of Everest expedition. After two unsuccessful attempts, in 1924 he again tried to climb the peak with Andrew Irvine. They started on June 8, 1924 to scale the summit via the North Col route and never returned. The Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition later discovered their bodies near the old Chinese Camp in 1999. Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay from Nepal were the first two climbers to set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953 by climbing through the South Col Route. More than 5000 climbers have scaled the highest mountain since then. Also there have been more than 300 deaths on the mountain where conditions are so difficult that most corpses have been left where they fell. Some of them are visible from the standard climbing routes.
Mt. Lhotse (8516m) is the fourth highest mountain in the world. It lies south of Mt. Everest. Two Swiss climbers F. Luchsinger and E. Reiss first climbed it in 1956 from the West face. Czech expedition led by Ivan Galfy scaled it via the South face in 1984. An impressive ring of three peaks makes up the Lhotse massif: Lhotse East or Middle, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar. The South Face of Lhotse is one of the largest mountain faces in the world.
Cho Oyu (8201m) the sixth highest mountain in the world, has gained popularity among climbers just recently. The mountain sits on both sides of the border of Nepal and Tibet, about 30 km. west of Mount Everest. Cho Oyu in Tibetan means “the turquoise goddess.” The south face of Cho Oyu, facing Nepal, is quite steep and difficult, and is rarely climbed. The north side, accessed from Tibet, is more moderate, and there is a relatively safer route to the summit. In the autumn of 1954, an Austrian team made the first ascent via this route.
Ama Dablam (6856m) which means ‘mother’s jewelry box’, in Sherpa language is considered to be one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. It looks like a woman with outstretched arms or a woman wearing a long necklace. The mountain dominates the whole Everest Base Camp trek. Ama Dablam lies alongside Everest in the heart of the Khumbu Valley. Mt Lhotse, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Cho Oyu and Mt. Everest can be seen at close quarters from Ama Dablam.
Nuptse (7855m) lies southwest of Mt Everest. It is situated in the Khumbu Himal. From the Tengboche Monastery, one of the iconic monasteries in Everest trek Nuptse appears as a massive wall guarding the approach to Everest. The name Nup-tse in Tibetan means west peak. The main ridge, which is separated from Lhotse by a 7556m high saddle, is crowned by seven peaks and goes west-northwest until its steep west-face drops down more than 2300m to the Khumbu-glacier. Nuptse I was first summited by a British expedition on May 16, 1961.
Pumori Peak (7145m) is just 8 km away from the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest. The magnificent view of the peak dominates the trail as you near Everest Base Camp. The ascent to this peak is described as a classic climb in the 7000m peak category. In Tibetan, ‘Pumo’ means girl and ‘Ri’, mountain. George Mallory, the famous English climber who lost his life trying to ascend Everest in 1924, named the peak. The German climber Gerhard Lenser was the first to reach the summit of Pumori in 1962. Pumori is a popular climbing peak. The best season to climb this peak is during autumn and spring.
Mera Peak (6475m) is the highest of Nepal’s trekking peaks. By its standard route, it is also the highest peak in Nepal that can be climbed without prior mountaineering experience. J.O.M. Roberts and Sen Tenzing first climbed it on 20 May 1953, from the standard route at Mera La. The mountain lies to the south of Everest, dominating the watershed between the wild and beautiful valleys of the Hinku and Hongu.
Island Peak (6160m) also known as Imja Tse was named by Erick Shipton’s group in 1953. It was so named as the peak resembles an island in a sea of ice when observed from Dingboche. A British group as preparation for climbing Mt. Everest first climbed the peak in 1953. Among them one of the climbers was Mr. Tenzing Norgay. The peak is part of the south ridge of Lhotse Shar and the main land forms a semicircle of cliffs that rise to the north of the summits of Nuptse, Lhotse, Middle Peak and Lhotse Shar. Cho Oyu and Makalu lie to the east of the Island Peak. Baruntse, Amphu and Ama Dablam lie to the south.
Lobuche (6119m) is known as Lhauche among the locals. It rises above the town of Lobuche which is just a few kilometers from Mt. Everest. Laurice Nielson and Ang Gyalzen Sherpa did the first ascent on this peak on 25 April 1984.
Kala Patthar is a small mountain 5545 m (18,500 ft) high on the southern flank of Pumori (7145 m). It is a trekking peak and every year tourists climb this peak during Everest Base Camp Trek to enjoy the fantastic panoramic views it offers of the Khumbu glacier, Everest and nearby peaks like Lhotse and Nuptse. To the east, Makalu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, and Cho Oyu are visible.
Jiri: Early expeditions to climb Everest from the Nepali side started from Jiri. Before the airstrip at Lukla came into existence, all the trekking and climbing expeditions to the Everest region started from Jiri. Starting from Jiri, the route passes through the Sherpa villages of the Solu Khumbu, many of them having beautiful Buddhist monasteries.
Lukla: Lukla, a popular town in Khumbu, boasts of the region’s sole commercial airport. Lying at a height of 2800m, the town is known as the gateway of Everest treks as most trekkers usually begin and end their Everest adventure in Lukla. The airport was built in 1964 by Sir Edmund Hillary as part of his project in Khumbu region during the early 60s to transport the supplies for the Himalayan Trust projects in the Khumbu region. Today, somewhere between 90-95% of the foreign nationals who reach Lukla, arrive by a half hour flight from Kathmandu.
Namche Bazaar: Namche Bazaar is known as the Sherpa capital. It is a famous center for everyone doing Everest trekking. Namche is actually a town lying at the junction of the Dudh Koshi and a valley that leads to the frontier pass of Nangpa La. It is tucked away in a niche at a height of 3450m. W. H. Tilman and C. Houston were the first westerners to enter it in 1950 and many more have come since then. Facilities like a bank, a post office, hotels and shops where one can purchase climbing equipment as well as canned food have sprung up over the years. Namche Bazaar is the major regional trading center. Its Saturday market or haat is the place where most of the trading takes place. The headquarters of the Sagarmatha National Park is located in Namche.
Tengboche: Tengboche (3860m) is famous for Tengboche monastery. It is one of the most important centers of Buddhism in the region. The gompa is the largest one you see during your Everest Base Camp trek. It was first built in 1923. Destroyed by a fire in 1989, it was rebuilt later on partly with foreign aid. From Tengboche, one gets a panoramic view of Kwangde, Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Amadablam, Kangtenga, and Thamserku.
Pangboche: Buddhism is believed to have been introduced in the Khumbu region towards the end of the 17th century by Lama Sange Dorjee. According to the legend, he flew over the Himalayas and landed on a rock at Pangboche and Tengboche, leaving his footprints embedded on the stone. He is believed to have been responsible for the founding of the first gompas in the Khumbu region, at Pangboche and Thame. Pangboche (3985m) is the highest year-round settlement in the valley. The Imja Khola, coming from the right, joins the Dudh Koshi River a little above the village. The gompa (monastery) in Pangboche is thought to be one of the oldest in the Khumbu region.
Khumjung: Khumjung (3790 m), a village lying west of Tengboche, is famous for the gompa where the skull of a supposed Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, is preserved under the supervision of the head Lama. The skull seems more like the outer skin of Himalayan Brown Bear, and this is proved by the report of a scientific exploratory expedition conducted by Sir Edmund Hillary, a copy of which is kept in the gompa.
Pheriche: Pheriche is located at an altitude of 4252m. It lies on a level patch. Apart from the basic facilities available here, there is a medical-aid post maintained by the Himalayan Rescue Association of the Tokyo Medical College with Japanese doctors in attendance. Among other facilities, there is an air compression chamber installed for assisting victims of high altitude sickness.
Sherpas live in the upper regions of Solu Khumbu, the area that largely fall in Everest trekking trail. They emigrated from Tibet about 600 years ago. In the past they were traders and porters, carrying butter, meat, rice, sugar, and dye from India; and wool, jewelry, salt, Chinese silk and porcelain from Tibet and beyond. The closure of the border between India and China undermined their economy. Fortunately, with the mountaineering expeditions and trekkers, the Sherpa’s found their load carrying skills, both on normal treks and high altitudes in great demand. Now, these able bodied, hardy and fearless Sherpa are world class climbers known for their amazing climbing prowess. They are such an inseparable part of mountaineering and trekking in Nepal that any climbers and trekkers can rarely imagine doing a Himalayan adventure without their support.
At the lower elevations lives the Kiranti Rai. The villages of Jubing, Kharikhola, Okhaldhunga, are inhabited by the Rais. Of mongoloid stock, they speak their own dialect. Reference of their fighting spirit is made in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The people from this group have supplied recruits to Gurkha regiments both in the British as well as Indian armies. The Rais follow a religion that is partly animistic with some Hindu influence. They revere their ancestors by observing Kul or Pitri puja every year. The Jirels live in the area around Jiri. They are mongoloid and follow Buddhism.
Lhosar is celebrated in the month of February by the Sherpas. ‘Lhosar’ means New Year in Sherpa language. Apart from the Sherpas and Tibetans, the Gurungs and Tamangs also celebrate Lhosar. Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them. Families organize feasts and perform dances.
Dumje is celebrated to mark the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). The celebration takes place in June and lasts for six days. It is celebrated in a grand way in the villages of Namche, Thame and Khumjung, all important stopovers during Everest trekking.
Mani Rimdu is a festival that celebrates the victory of Buddhism over the ancient animistic religion of Bon. This festival is celebrated in the monasteries of Tengboche, Chiwang and Thame. At Tengboche, the most iconic monastery of the Everest trek, the celebration takes place during the November- December full moon. At Thame, Mani Rimdu is celebrated during full moon in May. Chiwang Gompa generally celebrates this festival during autumn. The Lamas wear elaborate brocade gowns and masks while performing. Through the dances, symbolic demons are conquered, dispelled, or converted to Dharma Protectors as positive forces clash with those of chaos. The dances convey Buddhist teaching on many levels from the simplest to the most profound, for those who do not have the opportunity to study and meditate extensively. It gives an opportunity to the Sherpas to gather and celebrate together with the monks.
Sakela (Chandi Dance) is a harvest festival celebrated by the Rai community. The harvest ceremony involves the worship of mother earth, called ‘Bhumi-Puja’. The festival is celebrated twice a year, once in spring before planting begins and once during autumn before harvesting. Ubhauli is celebrated during the spring season on Baishakh Purnima. In the autumn season on Mangsir Purnima, Udhauli is celebrated. The spring worship is done to propitiate mother earth for a good harvest and the rain god to bless the earth with enough rain. The festival is celebrated with more fervor in the remote hills. The Rai villagers celebrate it with priests (dhami) who perform rituals to worship their ancestors. The elders of the community begin the dance with a puja. Later on everybody participate in the dance forming a circle by holding each other’s hands. With drumbeats, they begin dancing at a slow pace but moves faster later with the drumbeats. The dance steps and hand gestures imitate the sowing and harvesting of crops. The festival also provides an opportunity for the Rai people to socialize.