Fall 2017: Exceptional Everest

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October 8 – 21, 2017

Your Guides: Himalaya Specialists, Jerry Lapp + Ang Dendi Sherpa
Tour Sketch: Trekking through the lower Everest Region while staying at the area’s best lodges each night ~ optional extension to Everest Base Camp
Adventure Rating: Medium ~ we’ll have plenty of views, culture and adventure without walking to extreme altitudes
Low Point: 8,400 ft in the village of Phakding, our last night trekking
High Point: 16,150 ft on the optional Sumdur Ridge day hike
Highlight: exploring the old trading post and Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar?  dodging yaks?  great lodges every night?
Room & Board: Four-star or otherwise exceptional hotels in Kathmandu ~ while trekking we’ll stay in comfortable lodges with en suite bath, warm dining rooms, and always, a room with a view
Cost: $3,699 covers almost all of your expenses in Nepal over 14 days, including guides; porters; transfers; domestic flights (2); all hotels in Kathmandu; all lodges on trek; meals throughout; double occupancy ~ international airfare not included, but expect East Coast round trip tickets to be in the range of $900 – $1,300 ~ single occupancy, add $850
Bonus! Everest Base Camp extension ~ add $500 and seven days to transport yourself to the infamous Khumbu Icefall at the very foot of the world’s highest peak

 

The beauty of the Everest Region goes far beyond its sunny skies, jagged, vertical terrain, and friendly Sherpas.  It’s laced with a series of well-maintained trails that lead from village to village, giving even the most non-adventurous among us a chance to march around the massive mountains of the world’s highest peak.

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Our local guide, Ang Dendi Sherpa, left, and his sidekick, Kami Tendi

Beyond that, this particular trek winds up each day’s hike with a stay in the nicest, warmest, most comfortable lodges that the High Himalaya have on offer.  Private rooms, check.  Ensuite bathrooms, check.  Views, outrageous.  Friendly, glowing dining rooms – every evening.  Furthermore, you’ll be escorted throughout by two-time Everest summiteer, Ang Dendi Sherpa (above left), and his team of precocious porters who will carry your backpack, but more importantly, are overwhelmingly optimistic and great travel companions.  Your cultural liaison and tour designer is former Kathmandu resident, now Lancaster, PA resident, Jerry Lapp.

  This is a fully supported trek with a fantastic crew of Sherpa guides and porters . . .  you’ll carry only a small daypack with snacks and a few extra supplies each day.  It’s your vacation!  As well, you’re welcome to hike at your own speed, confident that a trusted staff member will be nearby.

 

FastFacts for EverestTrekkers

    • 9 days of trekking
    • 14 days in Nepal
    • 16 days door-to-door from North America
    • highest lodge . . . 13,940 ft – we’ll arrive acclimatized
    • Sherpas speak their own Sherpa language + Nepali, and often English as well
    • Buddhism is the religion of Everest . . . we’ll visit a number of monasteries along the way

 

The fantastical view from the Kongde Hotel with the village of Namche Bazaar far below . . . Everest rises behind the Lhotse-Nuptse wall, right background ~ photo credit Alex Treadway

We’ll spend two nights in most of our villages, giving us plenty of time to explore our surroundings.  This also gives us great opportunities to get to know our hosts!  Significant day hikes will be offered on the days we’re not moving onward to the next village.   Our highest night will be at the Kongde Hotel, perched on a hanging ridge across the canyon from Namche.  Its views of Everest and the entire area are unmatched anywhere in the Khumbu.

Everest Base Camp extension . . . add $500
If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know when to say enough is enough.  Does it really make sense to fly halfway around the world, trek to within a few days of the world’s highest peak, but not go there?  Details on this seven-day add-on are below, at the bottom of this page.

Check out these views of the upper reaches of our route . . .

Exceptional Everest Tour Outline

  •      Day 1     Fly from North America to your layover city
  •      Day 2     Fly onward to Kathmandu, Nepal
  •      Day 3    Tour Kathmandu, a virtual living museum
  •      Day 4     Fly to Lukla and trek to Monjo
  •      Day 5     Hike to Namche Bazaar
  •      Day 6     Acclimatization day w/ ascending day hike
  •      Day 7     Trek to Lawudo Monastery and Thame
  •      Day 8     Day hike the spectacular Sumdur Ridge
  •      Day 9     Trek to the remote Kongde Hotel
  •      Day 10    Day hike to Farak Ri, astounding overlook
  •      Day 11    Descending trek to the village of Phakding
  •      Day 12    Trek to Lukla, relax and watch the airplanes
  •      Day 13    Fly to Kathmandu, check into hotel
  •      Day 14    Free day to take in all of Kathmandu
  •      Day 15    Depart Kathmandu to layover city
  •      Day 16    Fly return flight to North America

 

The Detailed Plan of Attack (subject to change)

Day 1
Depart North America  ~  October 7, 2017

Fly from North America to your layover city; most major U.S. airports have high-quality, one-stop flights to Kathmandu, Nepal.  Although it’s not included in the package cost, Skychasers will arrange a group flight from Philadelphia or New York for those who would like to travel together.

Day 2
Kathmandu Arrival;  Tour begins today  ~  Oct 8

Upon arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, those traveling on the group flight from the East Coast will be met by our driver who will take us directly to our hotel overlooking Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest site in Nepal, the Boudha Stupa.  If arriving in Kathmandu independently, you will be met at the airport by myself or a member of our staff.  Airport transfer, dinner, hotel included. 

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4,500 ft ~ 1,371m
Day 3
Tour Kathmandu, living museum of culture and chaos  ~  Oct 9

From our grand station overlooking the pilgrims circumambulating the Boudha Stupa, we enjoy a relaxed rooftop breakfast.  After breakfast, we’ll give our hiking legs their first minor test by taking the 45-minute walk to Pashupatinath, the Hindu cremation ghats and temple complex.  The area is also home to an immense amount of activity ranging from flying monkeys to ganja-smoking sadhus, Indian holy men.  We’ll walk to the historic Dwarika’s Hotel for afternoon tea or cocktail hour, as you wish, before returning to Boudha for free time and dinner.  B/L/D, Pashupatinath entrance fee, hotel.

4,500 ft ~ 1,371m
Day 4
Fly to Lukla and trek to Monjo  ~  Oct 10     8 mile hike
  • 84 miles KTM – Lukla flight
  • 9,365 ft Lukla elevation – also today’s high point
  • 8,375 ft Today’s low point
  • 9,348 ft Finish in Monjo

We’ll head to the domestic airport after an early breakfast for our soaring shuttle flight alongside the spine of the Himalaya to Lukla, our portal to the world’s highest mountains.  To be sure, the Lukla landing is a great adventure, but it’s merely a harbinger of things to come.  With plenty of time in the day left to hike, we set off to the north.  As we walk upvalley, the jagged summit of Kusum Kanguru comes into view above the northeast foothills.  Oddly, our first few hours lead us downhill to a large village before ending the day with a gradual uphill.  Along the way, there’s plenty happening; trekkers, yaks, lodges, and a delicious lunch stop.  B/L/D, trekking & tims permits, deluxe lodge.

9,348 ft ~ 2,850m
Day 5
Hike to Namche Bazaar  ~  Oct 11     3.75 miles
  • 9,348 ft Start
  • 9,180 ft Low point
  • 11,300 ft Finish & high point

Namche Bazaar’s a definite highlight, but it’s going to make us work a bit to get there.  Shortly after our walk commences, we enter the borders of Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park before diving down once again to the riverside.  Our crossing brings us to the last town of the area, Jorsale.  For the next hour, we’re undulating along the banks of the river as it roars beside us.  Our final river crossing is on a high, swinging bridge lined with prayer flags.  This bridge also signifies the start of the infamous “Namche Hill” . . . one step at a time will find you in Namche in 2 hours, but not before you get your first glimpse of Everest a few minutes above the bridge!  Spend the rest of the day visiting Namche’s bakeries, pubs, and coffee shops.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

11,300 ft ~ 3,445m
Day 6
Rest/acclimatization, Khumjung day hike  ~  Oct 12     4 miles
  • 11,300 ft Start, low point & finish
  • 12,715 ft High point @ the Everest View Hotel

This is a classic day in the Everest region . . . starting with a slow hike up and out of Namche Bazaar.  As we wind our way upward, the monster mountains of the Khumbu slowly come into view . . . first ThamSerku, then Ama Dablam, the Lhotse-Nuptse wall, and behind that, Everest.  From the high outdoor patio of the Everest View Hotel, we’ll order tea and coffee, and sit, sometimes in silence, sometimes sharing thoughts with friends, but always in awe.  We’ll continue our walk down into the large Sherpa village of Khumjung, enjoying pastries from its famous bakery, eventually eating lunch, and maybe visiting the local Edmund Hillary School.  In the afternoon, we’ll continue our looping walk, heading to the Syangboche Airport before descending back down to the comforts of Namche Bazaar.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

11,950 ft – 3,643m
Day 7
Trek to Lawudo Monastery and Thame  ~  Oct  13     8 miles
  • 11,300 ft Start and low point
  • 13,270 ft High Point
  • 12,464 ft Thame

A hearty, hot breakfast fuels our gentle ascent westward out of Namche Bazaar.  Presently, we enter a forest where there’s a good chance to see the Himalayan tahr, the local version of the mountain goat.  Traversing the hillside, we have excellent views across the valley to the jagged peaks of Kongde.  I have a friend, Pemba Tenzing, who’s a monk at one of the high Buddhist monasteries above the trail, so we’ll stop in to see him, check out the meditation cave (below), and eat a traditional Nepali lunch.  As we begin our afternoon hike, our destination of Thame will be visible upvalley.  If we’re feeling relaxed and happy, we can take a detour to the high Thame Monastery as we roll into town.  Otherwise, we’ll head straight into Thame, enjoying its remote situation with towering peaks above.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

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Pemba Tenzing & Kaji Sherpa in conversation in front of Lawudo Gompa’s meditation cave
12,464 ft ~ 3,800m
Day 8
Day hike the spectacular Sumdur Ridge  ~  Oct 14     5.6 miles
  • 12,464 ft Start, low point & finish
  • 16,150 ft Highest hiking point on Sumdur Ridge

Today will suit everyone’s tastes.  Feeling a little tired?  Spend the entire day eating and sleeping the day away.  Want a little exercise to shake out the cobwebs?  Hike up to the Thame Monastery and watch the mountains roll by while enjoying a meal in one of the adjoining restaurants.  Or, maybe you want to hike higher than you’ve ever been, with the bonus that it’s the hike of a lifetime?  Trek Sumdur Ridge (see photo below), the spectacular, exposed ridgeline above Thame.  The trail begins gently, crisscrossing its way up to the monastery.  From there, it traverses west, then climbs steeply, gaining the ridgeline at 14,075 ft.  Once on the ridge, the views are full-on 360° for the final 2,000 vertical feet.  You’ll feel the altitude, but will be well acclimatized to this point to make it a reasonable day.  Our Nepali staff will carry your daypack, the pace will be slow, and we’ll stop a lot to take pictures, let the breath catch up, and enjoy a packed lunch on the summit.  Challenge your world! The numbers?  3,686 ascent + 3,686 descent, 5.6 miles round-trip, 6-8 hours.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

16,150 ft ~ 4,923m
Day 9
Trek to the remote Kongde Hotel  ~  Oct 15     7.5 miles
  • 12,464 ft Start in Thame
  • 13,940 ft Finish & high point at Kongde Hotel

Very few Everest trekkers ever make it up to the Kongde Hotel.  Even though it’s in the middle of all the action, it’s perched on an inaccessible ridge high up on Kongde Peak – no village, no lodges, just the Kongde Hotel.  The trail from Thame has been carved into the side of the mountain and weaves in and out of the tortured landscape to ascend across the rugged hillside.  This is the most challenging day of the trek, but also the most rewarding . . . as we hike the final twists and turns to Kongde, the entire Everest region unfurls above and below us.  Enjoy the sumptuous dinner – you’ve earned it!  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

13,940 ft ~ 4,250m
 Day 10
Day hike to Farak Ri, astounding overlook  ~  Oct 16     3.7 miles
  • 13,940 ft Start & low point
  • 15,350 ft High point at Farak Ri (Ri means “hill”)

If you chose not to hike Sumdur Ridge from Thame, Farak Ri is a kinder, gentler alternative.  Walk upwards out of the Hotel to a high point above a mountain lake, reaching the “Ri” in a couple hours.  Because we’re a few thousand feet above the Hotel, the views will be better, looking down to Namche Bazaar far below, and Everest far above.  A quick hour brings us back down to our beloved Hotel in time for lunch followed by an afternoon of true rest, lounging in the sun high above it all.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

 

13,940 ft ~ 4,250m

Day 11
Descending trek to the village of Phakding  ~  Oct 17     4.8 miles
  • 13,940 ft Start & high point
  • 8,620 ft Phakding & low point

The numbers tell the story of the day . . . we’re going downhill all day.  Well, five miles downhill doesn’t really take all that long, but wear your thick socks, batten down your laces, and let it roll.  We’ll have spectacular morning views of the elusive spire of Kusum Kanguru before entering the greenery closer to the valley floor.  Peace and quiet accompanies our first hours as well, negotiating the craggy terrain below the Kongde Hotel.  This comes to a rather abrupt, and maybe welcome, end when we arrive at the junction of the main Everest trail.  From there, it’s another hour to our evening lodge, nesting high above the tumbling, milky Dudh Kosi River in our backyard.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

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My son, Henry, is an easy target for Chimi and her band of rowdies in Phakding. Our trek leads us through living, breathing communities of real people going about business as usual. Our interactions with the families along the way are a highlight of the Himalaya.
8,620 ft ~ 2,628m
Day 12
Trek to Lukla, relax, watch the airplanes  ~  Oct 18     4.5 miles
  • 8,620 ft Start in Phakding
  • 8,375 ft Low Point
  • 9,365 ft Lukla & high point

I’ve always wanted to arrive early in Lukla, but have never gotten it done . . . it’s endlessly fascinating to watch the airplanes fly in and out of Lukla, seeing firsthand the skills of Nepal’s immensely talented pilots.  With a hike of only 4.5 miles today (and clear skies), we have a chance at some quality time on the rooftop of the Buddha Lodge overlooking the takeoffs and landings.  But first, our trek has one final twist; our “downvalley” trek actually traverses upwards along the side of the valley, so we get to finish in grand style . . . with an uphill.  Remember though that we were downhilling all day yesterday . . . our quads and toes will be happier with a finishing ascent.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.   

9,365 ft ~ 2,365m
Day 13
Fly to Kathmandu, check into hotel  ~  Oct 19
  • 84 mile flight (35 mins)
  • 9,365 ft Lukla
  • 4,500 ft Kathmandu

Take your pick for the highlight of the day:  the mountain flight to Kathmandu? checking into our pristine hotel, most likely the legendary Hotel Yak & Yeti? taking a dip in the pool? being propelled by something other than our legs?  These are all great, but usually pale in comparison to showering and eating.  Oh yes, our food will be delicious on trek, and there will be showers, but Kathmandu is a veritable smorgasbord for foodies, there’s endless hot water, and you’ll be able to throw on very clean clothes at the end.  If any of you are itching to get out, I love Kathmandu and am always ready to show you a new adventure.  Most however are content to eat, shower, rinse, repeat, so there will be very little beyond that on our agenda today.  B/L/D, airport transfer, 4 or 5-star hotel.

4,500 ft ~ 1,371m

 

Day 14
Free day to take in all of Kathmandu  ~  Oct 20

OK, today’s not exactly free, but if you’d rather enjoy the hotel pool, you’re more than welcome.  But remember, I lived in Kathmandu for five years and I will show you the best the city has to offer – with a little crazy thrown in.  Breakfast will be in the hotel garden and will be long and leisurely as we continue to try to nip the trekking calorie burn in the bud.  Following will be a morning of relaxation, then a short walk to the tourist district of Thamel for lunch.  From there we’ll walk into the very heart of old town Kathmandu just to test each and every one of our five senses.  Then it’s onward to Indra Chowk, the bead market, and Kathmandu Durbar Square and its collection of ancient pagoda-style temples.  As dusk approaches, we’ll taxi to Swayambhunath, aka, “The Monkey Temple” (photo below) brave its 365 ever-steepening steps to arrive at a mini-summit with a Buddhist stupa and a lot of monkeys.  This shrine shows us a phenomenal mix of Tibetan Buddhism from the north and Indian Hinduism from the south meeting and mixing in Kathmandu.  A farewell dinner ends our day with a bang!  B/L/D, 4 or 5-star hotel.

Click & drag the 360° photo below of the Swoyambhunath Temple to look all around & up & down ▼

kolorful kathmandu – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

4,500 ft ~ 1,371m
Day 15
Depart Kathmandu to International Layover City  ~  Oct 21

Most international flights depart Kathmandu in the afternoon or evening, and, we’ve only just scratched the surface of this ancient city, so we’ll most likely have time to take in another eye-popping temple or plaza and do a bit of shopping before we’re due at the airport.  B/L, airport transfer.

Day 16
Fly from International Layover City to North America  ~  Oct 22

Expect to arrive on your doorstep sometime today!

See Everest Base Camp Extension, below . . .
One of our lodges, above the river in the village of Phakding

Everest Base Camp Extension; add $500

If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know when to say enough is enough. Does it really make sense to fly halfway around the world, trek to within a few days of the world’s highest peak, but not go there?  Your only medicine may be this seven-day add-on that will take you to the very foot of Everest.  The extension matches up exactly with the first eight days of Exquisite Everest, above, then, on Day 9 treks to the village of Mong La instead of the Kongde Hotel, before continuing onward and upward to Everest Base Camp at 17,400 ft.

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The Khumbu Icefall tumbles down into Everest Base Camp

Lodging along the extension is much more basic, however, you’ll still feel like you’re being spoiled along the way.  Porters and guides, meals and lodges are all part of the deal.  In addition, you’ll get a chance to trek, not climb, to 18,400 ft, one of the few places in the world where mere mortals can reach such high-flying altitudes.  Here’s your trekking timetable, starting from Day 9, where the paths diverge . . .

Base Camp Extension Outline

  • Day 9        Trek to Mong La mini-pass (instead of the Kongde Hotel)   13,000 ft
  • Day 10      Trek to Pangboche   12,986 ft
  • Day 11      Trek to Dingboche   14,140 ft
  • Day 12      Acclimatization/day hike to Nangarchang Peak   16,120 ft
  • Day 13      Trek Dingboche to Lobuche   16,190 ft
  • Day 14      Trek to Gorak Shep 16,970 ft; day hike to Kala Pathar summit    18,400 ft
  • Day 15      Day hike to Everest Base Camp   17,400 ft
  • Day 16      Trek Gorak Shep to Pheriche   14,000 ft
  • Day 17      Trek to Sanasa   11,830 ft
  • Day 18      Trek to Phakding (deluxe lodge)   8,620 ft
  • Day 19      Trek to Lukla (deluxe lodge)   9,365 ft
  • Day 20      Fly to Kathmandu
  • Day 21      Kathmandu touring
  • Day 22      Kathmandu departure to international layover
  • Day 23      Fly international layover to North America

 

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Nima is a potato farmer and Sherpa from the village of “Hill” , many thousands of feet below Everest . . . here he’s carrying an 80 lb. load at 16,000 ft.

 

Everest Base Camp ~ the Numbers & Plan of Attack

Day 9
Trek from Thame to Mong La mini pass instead of the Kongde Hotel  ~  Oct 15     9.5 miles
  • 12,464 ft   Start in Thame
  • 11,948 ft   Low point near Sanasa
  • 13,000 ft   High point & finish

Our next adventure, the road to Everest Base Camp, starts by heading back towards Namche Bazaar before climbing up to the plateau of Khumjung.  As the pyramid of Ama Dablam comes back into view, we cut off onto the Gokyo Valley trail before a long, gentle traversing ascent to Mong La.   Mong La is perched on a 13,000 ft ridge that descends from the sacred summit of Khumbi La and is easily one of my favorite overnights in Nepal.  The views are 360° from every room in this tiny village.   B/L/D, mountain lodge.

 13,000 ft
Day 10
Down, then up to Pangboche  ~  Oct 16     5.5 miles
  • 13,000 ft   Start
  • 11,800 ft    Low point below Phortse
  • 13,336 ft   High point above Phortse
  • 12,980 ft   Finish at Pangboche

There are few trails in the Everest area that I haven’t traveled, one of the reasons I’m really looking forward to the afternoon part of today’s trek.  After a hot breakfast and good-byes in Mong La, we have a long downhill to the Dudh Khosi River, followed by a shorter uphill to the village of Phortse.  Phortse is a popular training center for Sherpas going into the mountaineering industry.  We’ll grab a bite to eat here before working our way to the top of the village and the trail towards Pangboche.  The trail then turns decidedly high and remote as it winds in and out of the rugged base of Tawoche Peak, with no real villages until we reach Pangboche.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

12,980 ft
Day 11
Trek gradually upward to Dingboche  ~  Oct 17     4.2 miles
  • 12,980   Start in Pangboche
  • 12,900 ft   Low point, just below Pangboche
  • 14,140 ft   High point and finish at Dingboche

There’s an old Buddhist monastery that’s reputed to house a Yeti scalp in the upper reaches of Pangboche.  Because our road is not particularly long today, we may take a post-breakfast detour up the hill to check out the scalp?  Before we exit Pangboche, we’ll inquire about the condition of the less-traveled trail on the other side of the river, underneath Ama Dablam.  If it’s a go, we’ll head that way, otherwise, we’ll stick to the known trails far above the true right bank of the Imja Khola River.   As we approach the village of Pheriche, we’ll take a fork trail to the right which presently arrives in the town of Dingboche.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

14,140 ft
Day 12
Rest/acclimatization/day hike from Dingboche to Nangarchung Peak  ~  Oct 18    3.7 miles
  • 14,140 ft   Low point and start in Dingboche
  • 16,627 ft   High point at Nangarchung Peak
  • 14,140 ft   Return to Dingboche

One of the best ways to acclimatize to high altitude is to follow the old adage, “climb high, sleep low”.  And, that’s exactly what we’ll do today w/ numbers that look great for acclimatization.  Winding our way out of Dingboche, we’ll gain access to the nearby ridge to the north, then following the hairpin trail, head steeply up to Nagarchung Peak.  Back in Dingboche for the afternoon, there’s plenty to do including a snooker hall!

B/L/D, mountain lodge

14,140 ft
Day 13
Spectacular trek to Lobuche  ~  Oct 19     5.2 miles

Climbing out of Dingboche again, we’ll gain the beautiful plateau-type ridge above the village of Pheriche.  We’re walking on a true tabletop, maybe call it a balcony trail, with crisscrossing Yak trails everywhere and the occasional ancient stone tea house.   After crossing a rushing river, we arrive in the village of Dughla where we’ll likely take a tea break.  After lunch and ever ascending, we slowly arrive in the Khumbu Valley which leads to Everest.  Our trail intersects with the trail coming in from the Cho La pass, but it doesn’t add much traffic because it’s a fairly remote, difficult pass.   Eventually we’re led into the village of Lobuche with its namesake peak towering high above us.

  • 14,140 ft   Start & low point in Dingboche
  • 16,190 ft   High point & finish at Lobuche

B/L/D, mountain lodge

16,190 ft
Day 14
High trek to remote Gorak Shep, hike to Kala Pataar viewpoint  ~  Oct 20     5.2 miles

Before Base Camp moved to its current location at the base of the Khumbu Icefall, it was in Gorak Shep.  The Khumbu Glacier “flows” down the valley behind town, while in front, there’s a large, oddly flat area that looks like the remnants of salt lake.  Because it’s the last village before Base Camp, oodles and oodles of people come and go from and to here.  There are only a few lodges and in high season, they do as best they can to accommodate everyone with hot food and a warm stove.  Our trek in from Lobuche isn’t that long, so we’ll have time to tackle the high point of our Tour, the 18,400 ft peak of Kala Pathar.  This peak is actually a ridge running off the ice pyramid of Pumori, one of the high points of which gives us incredible sunset views onto the Sout Face of Mt. Everest.

  • 16,190 ft   Start & low point
  • 16,970 ft   Finish at Gorak Shep
  • 18,400 ft   Day hike to Kala Paatar! (optional)
  • 16,970 ft   Return to Gorak Shep

B/L/D, mountain lodge

16,970 ft
Day 15
Day hike to Everest Base Camp, return to Gorak Shep  ~  Oct 21     4.7 miles, round trip

Remember this gem today . . . “if trekking Everest Base Camp was easy, everyone would do it”.  It’s not a very long day today, but the trails are rugged, sometimes icy, and your entire day will be spent between 17,000 and 17,600 ft.  Bottom line?  You may end up a little more tired than the numbers might suggest, but you’ll also end up at a big, big goal, the base camp of the world highest mountain, Mt Everest.  Congratulations . . . this is one goal that’s worth fighting for!

  • 16,970 ft   Start & low point
  • 17,553 ft   High point, a bit before arriving at Base Camp
  • 17,400 ft   Everest Base Camp
  • 16,970 ft   Return to Gorak Shep

B/L/D, mountain lodge

16,970 ft to 17,553 ft and return
Day 16
Descending trek to Pheriche  ~  Oct 22     7 miles

As we descend down the same valley that we hiked up, we’re going to use as many different trails as we can to give the feeling of a loop trek instead of an out and back.  This brings us into the town of Dughla around lunch time, again, and from there, we’ll take the lower “flat” trail into the town of Pheriche.  There’s a high-altitude medical clinic here, so if you suspect your body has been unduly tortured by the trek, the clinic is a great place to confirm!

  • 16,970 ft   Start
  • 16,969 ft   High point, just after start
  • 14,000 ft   Low point & finish at Pheriche

B/L/D, mountain lodge

14,000 ft
Day 17
Trek to Tengboche Monastery, then Sanasa  ~  Oct 23     9 miles

Our destination today, the Tengboche Monastery, occupies a high place in Everest lore.  Traditionally, beginning with the very first expeditions, Everest climbers had to stop at the monastery to perform a puja, or blessing ceremony, for their climb.  These pujas and blessings are still bestowed on Everest climbers to this day.  The monastery sits on a commanding ridge in the center of the Khumbu region.  We’ll take our time walking here today as it’s not a particularly long downhill trek.

  • 14,000 ft   Start and high point
  • 10,827 ft   Low point at Phungi Tenga
  • 11,830 ft   Finish

B/L/D, mountain lodge

11,830 ft
 Day 18
Trek to beautiful lodge in Phakding  ~  Oct 24   9 miles
  • 11,830 ft   Start
  • 11,880  High point, just after start
  • 8,620 ft   Low point & finish in Phakding

The numbers tell the story of the day . . . we’re going downhill a good part of the day.  Wear your downhill socks, batten down your laces, throw some Icy Hot on your quads, and let it roll.  An hour into our hike, we’ll cruise one last time through the town of Namche Bazaar before spectacular morning views of the elusive spire of Kusum Kanguru come into view.  As we descend, we walk into the greenery on the valley floor of the Dudh Kosi River. From there, it’s another couple of hours to our evening lodge, nesting high above the tumbling, milky river in our backyard.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.

 

8,620 ft

Day 19
Final ascent to Lukla!  ~  Oct 25
  • 8,620 ft   Start in Phakding
  • 8,375 ft   Low Point in Koshigaun
  • 9,365 ft   Finish & high point in Lukla

I’ve always wanted to arrive early in Lukla, but have never gotten it done . . . it’s endlessly fascinating to watch the airplanes fly in and out of Lukla, seeing firsthand the skills of Nepal’s immensely talented pilots.  With a hike of only 4.5 miles today (and clear skies), we have a chance at some quality time on the rooftop of the Buddha Lodge overlooking the takeoffs and landings.  But first, our trek has one final twist; our “downvalley” trek actually traverses upwards along the side of the valley, so we get to finish in grand style . . . with an uphill.  Remember though that we were downhilling all day yesterday . . . our quads and toes will be happier with a finishing ascent.  B/L/D, deluxe lodge.   

9,365 ft
Day 20
Fly to Kathmandu, check into hotel  ~  Oct 26
  • 84 mile flight (35 mins)
  • 9,365 ft   Fly from Lukla
  • 4,500 ft   Land in Kathmandu

Take your pick for the highlight of the day:  the mountain flight to Kathmandu? checking into our pristine hotel, most likely the legendary Hotel Yak & Yeti? taking a dip in the pool? being propelled by something other than our legs?  These are all great, but usually pale in comparison to showering and eating.  Oh yes, our food will be delicious on trek, and there will be showers, but Kathmandu is a veritable smorgasbord for foodies, there’s endless hot water, and you’ll be able to throw on very clean clothes at the end.  If any of you are itching to get out, I love Kathmandu and am always ready to show you a new adventure.  Most however are content to eat, shower, rinse, repeat, so there will be very little beyond that on our agenda today.  B/L/D, flight, airport transfer, 4 or 5-star hotel.

4,500 ft
Day 21
Free day to take in all of Kathmandu  ~  Oct 27

OK, today’s not exactly free, but if you’d rather enjoy the hotel pool, you’re more than welcome.  But remember, I lived in Kathmandu for five years and I will show you the best the city has to offer – with a little crazy thrown in.  Breakfast will be in the hotel garden and will be long and leisurely as we continue to try to nip the trekking calorie burn in the bud.  Following will be a morning of relaxation, then a short walk to the tourist district of Thamel for lunch.  From there we’ll walk into the very heart of old town Kathmandu just to test each and every one of our five senses.  Then it’s onward to Indra Chowk, the bead market, and Kathmandu Durbar Square and its collection of ancient pagoda-style temples.  As dusk approaches, we’ll taxi to Swayambhunath, aka, “The Monkey Temple” (photo below) brave its 365 ever-steepening steps to arrive at a mini-summit with a Buddhist stupa and a lot of monkeys.  This shrine shows us a phenomenal mix of Tibetan Buddhism from the north and Indian Hinduism from the south meeting and mixing in Kathmandu.  A farewell dinner ends our day with a bang!  B/L/D, 4 or 5-star hotel.

4,500 ft

 

Day 22
Depart Kathmandu to International Layover City  ~  Oct 28

Most international flights depart Kathmandu in the afternoon or evening, and, we’ve only just scratched the surface of this ancient city, so we’ll most likely have time to take in another eye-popping temple or plaza and do a bit of shopping before we’re due at the airport.  B/L, airport transfer.

Day 23
Fly from International Layover City to North America  ~  Oct 29

Expect to arrive on your doorstep sometime today!

click to enlarge

 

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