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Hiking the Three Passes route in Nepal’s Everest region

April 8th, 2011

Mount Everest viewed from Kala Pattar

We now pause for a short bit of self-promotion: my article in Sunday’s New York Times travel section is now available online. It’s about the trip to Nepal Lauren and I took last December, where we hiked a route called the Three Passes — a way of seeing the Everest region without spending all our time in the traffic jams along the route to Base Camp:

PERCHED on a narrow platform 17,500 feet above sea level, we paused to snack on boiled potatoes and the spicy Tibetan dumplings called momos, and to drink in the view.

We were at the top of the Renjo La, the pass that is the lowest point along a knife-edged ridge separating two valleys. Behind us, looming above a turquoise glacial lake, was Mount Everest. In front of us, an immense stone staircase led down into a valley dotted with roofless stone shelters and the occasional yak — a ribbon of green hemmed in by the soaring gray and white of Himalayan rock and ice.

Stunned into silence by the panorama, we descended the staircase and hiked on in a reverie. It wasn’t until we reached the banks of a fast-flowing river a few hours later that we noticed that the landscape no longer corresponded to the lines and dots on our map. We’d hiked for five hours without seeing another living soul, and, perhaps in part because of our solitude, somewhere along the way had taken a wrong turn…[READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE]

There’s also a nice slide-show accompanying the article, with some pictures from the trip.

  1. Brian
    April 10th, 2011 at 19:00 | #1

    Spectacular! My brother’s been bugging me for a number of years to go with him to the Base Camp. This route sounds better than simply going to base camp.

  2. alex
    April 10th, 2011 at 20:43 | #2

    @Brian
    Thanks, Brian! It really was a beautiful hike (and if you have time constraints, it’s still worth doing at least one or two of the passes to get off the main route).

    The other advice (that I didn’t have room to get into in the article) is timing. We went in December, and were really happy with how that turned out. We literally had three weeks of uninterrupted sunshine with no snow or rain (most precipitation in the region comes over the summer during the monsoon), and there were way fewer people than during the peak seasons even on the main base camp route. (i.e. visitor numbers to the region: 9000 in October, 1500 in December). For us, a few degrees colder at night was definitely worth the trade-off to avoid crowds.

  3. barnee
    April 11th, 2011 at 16:04 | #3

    Fitness requirements? Gear requirements? So did you get the trekking poles?

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