Trekking in the Everest region has many shorter and longer routes, making possible treks and routes of your choice based on interest and time available. Three passes trekking is a very famous trek in Everest for those who are looking for an additional adventure, a more demanding physical experience, excellent views, as well as less tourist traffic. It is a relatively newer trek and can be somewhat difficult and demanding due to the high altitudes required and glacier crossings. Weather plays an important part in decision-making. However, many groups now tackle this route with success. This is one trek where solo or two person independent trekking can lead to problems, and it is highly recommended you go in a group with experienced and knowledgeable Sherpa.
Kongmo La, Cho La and Renjo La (La means pass) passes together are called Three Passes in Trekking in the Everest area. For the first pass, Kongmo La (5535 m) we leave Chhukum cross the pass and descend into Lobuje, crossing a glacier en route. Then we visit Everest base camp (5370 m) and day hike up to Kala Patar (5545 m), the famous panoramic Everest viewpoint. From here can be seen Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and many other mountains of the Khumbu Himals. After visiting base camp and Kala Patar we continue to Cho La (5430 m) next day, and the following day visit Gokyo Lake, climb Gokyo Ri (5480 m), then continue climbing to Renjo La (5345 m) the day after. Renjo La is considered the easiest of the three passes, and Cho La is considered the most demanding. However, nowadays, there is a good chance fixed ropes will be installed on this pass. Our guides are quite familiar with the passes and can conduct you safely.
The view from Kongmo La includes Makalu, Cho Yu, Ama Dablam, Pumori and many other mountains in the Khumbu Himal. Crossing at an altitude of 5340 m Cho La could be exposed to strong winds if the crossing is too late. Start to climb steeply over rock and follow the possibly snowy path up to the pass. Then descend from the pass, and walk down to Gokyo valley. From Renjo La pass can see again the most spectacular and highest peaks above eight thousand meters—Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyo, and as well as many other peaks in the khumbu Himal. Many consider the view of Everest in particular, from Gokyo Ri and Renjo La, to be superior to that of Kala Patar.
Descending from Renjo La, we enter the fascinating Thame valley, which is much less visited than the three other valleys. Also, it is geologically much different than the other valleys. One of the highlights of the three passes trek are the traditional villages (3870 m) of Thame and Thamo. Also walking back to Namche from Thame we pass through many small less visited villages compared to the main Everest route. We return to Namche Bazaar. Finally, we descend and return to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu.
The landscape is varied and spectacular; the lodgings and tracks range from the time-worn and much visited paths of the Khumbu, to the isolated and less frequented Kongmo La area. Panoramic views of most of the highest mountains in Khumbu can be seen from the three passes, taken together. Renjola offers an unbelievable panoramic view of Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu.
As we walk down from the Renjo La to Thame and Namche we follow the ancient trans-Himalayan trade between Nepal and Tibet that for centuries taken place in caravan style through the trails of Nangpa La pass. Tibetan sellers walk all the way down to Namche Bazaar with their homemade stuffing and salt for doing their business. Unfortunately, this trade route between Nepal and Tibet is now closed/prohibited by the Chinese.
Our Three Passes Trek in Everest operates as a basic lodge trek with running hot and cold water facilities in most areas. A few locations between the passes have more basic facilities. Private rooms are available in most guest houses/lodges. In some places, bathrooms are shared.
Asian Hiking Team operates the trek in an anticlockwise direction starting in the Chhukum valley and going to the Thame valley crossing in order Kongmo La, Cho La Pass, and Renjo La. However, it is possible to do the trek in a clockwise direction, though doing so is considered more difficult and can present acclimatization problems, especially for the crossing of Renjo La and descending into Gokyo.