Traditional Route to Mount Everest

The road from Kathmandu now extends as far as Jiri – almost into Sherpa country. The 7 hour or so drive is in itself interesting passing through diverse countryside, crossing the Sun Koshi River and climbing high over forested ridges before reaching Jiri, which has become something of a boom – town since the road arrived.

The trail leads up the east ridge of the river through Tamang villages, to Kharubas (8899'/2713m) and climbs through rhododendron forest, past old water mills and Mani walls to Buldara pass, marked by Mani walls. The path then descends to Chyangma through forests of rhododendron and oak, passing a large Chorten. A beautiful valley marks the entrance to Sherpa country. The village of Chyangma has some Tamang and Newar people but is predominantly Sherpa. Mani walls welcome travelers to the town. An interesting shop displays Sherpa Chang bottles and tea churns, essential in Sherpa home. We continue past the main village to a grassy field campsite.

The trail then takes us on a steep descent through the forest and after this more gradually past terraced fields to Phedi, a small Chettri settlement. We cross a suspension bridge and walk along the river to Kenja, a village whose population is a combination of Sherpas, Newars and Chettris. This junction is a bustling town with a primary school, tea houses and fabric shops. We then climb steeply through rhododendron forests with views to the south of the receding hills and lush valleys. Mani walls mark the entrance to the monastery village of Sete, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery on the Everest trails. A visit to the hilltop monastery is worthwhile. 6 hours.

The trail takes us on a climb up to the Lamjura Pass, through pine forests, where trekkers are met by a mass of color (in season) as the pass ascends through a rhododendron forest. Some unnamed rocky summits at the head of the Rolawaling valley are visible from the pass. Lamjura marks a transition point between the receding hills to the southwest and the Solu Khumbu valley ahead. We then descend through rhododendron and pine trees to Thadobuk, a Sherpa village with a huge carved Mani rock. We continue down through fields of premolars down to Junbesi, a large Sherpa village with a chorten, large monastery and a school built by Sir Edmund Hillary. Here we can see a beautiful view of Number (22826'6959m). We camp near this very interesting village. 7 hours.

The trail climbs out of the Junbesi Valley and traverses high above the river valley to the east, the Solu Valley. A glimpse of Everest's summit is possible on a clear day. We continue along the ridge to Salung, past the Sherpa village of Ringmo Takshindu. (9800'/2933m). The chorten marking the top of the pass sets off the towering views of Kangtega (22235'/6779m) and Thamserku across the Dudh Koshi valley. We then drop down through the forest to the pagoda like monastery of Takshindu. 5 hours.

A steep descent takes us to Manidingma, a Rai and Sherpa village by a stream. The trail continues through Mustard fields and through forests where we have a chance of seeing langurs. The descent continues into the valley of the Dudh Koshi, which drains the southern slopes of the Everest Massif. After crossing a suspension bridge a gradual climb takes us to Jubling, a Rai village with bamboo stands around its houses. We continue to the Magar and Sherpa villages of Khari Khola. This is a village with water mills and mani walls and which has a colorful market every Wednesday. 5 ½ hours.

The trek then crosses Small River, before a steep climb to Kharte through rhododendron and oak trees as well as the fragrant danphe. We continue to Kartedara, through the forest where we have a good chance of seeing pheasant. A descent takes us to the river through rhododendron, birch, pine and bamboo areas to camp in the forest near the stream. 5 hours.

The trail continues to traverse high above the river from where we can get a fabulous view up the valley, including the airstrip at Lukla. This is followed by a long, steep descent to a small river at Surkya. We continue to the village of Chauri Kharka, set among terraces on the hillside. Our camp is near the bridge at Phakding. At the side of the bridge is a brightly painted mani rock, carved in commemoration of several families who died when Dudh Koshi became a raging torrent from an avalanche that originated high on the slopes of Ama Dablam.

Note: on 5th August 1985 an avalanche of ice and rock falling into an ice lake above the village of Thame caused the lake to burst. The resulting flood greatly affected the Bhote Koshi valley, destroying bridges and the partially built hydro scheme below Thamo. It also destroyed all the other bridges and some of the routes down the Dudh Koshi as well as rolling over the massive boulder mentioned above.

The trail follows the Bote Koshi through forest and pasture, along a valley dotted with small backing trails to large Sherpa settlements. We cross the Bhote Koshi and climb steeply along switch-backing trail to large Sherpa village, views of Everest and Lhotse come to the sight. This prosperous town is the largest in the Khumbu and is a traditional trading center, which holds a bazaar every Saturday. The wares on display include grains and vegetables, tennis shoes and trinkets as well as hand woven aprons and Tibetan boots. Thameserku and Kwangle Ri loom to the east and west and the sacred mountain Khumbila dominates the skyline to the north behind the village. 6 hrs.

We traverse westwards with a view of Kwangde and the waterfalls cascading off its flanks. The path continues to follow the Bhote Koshi through yellow and white rhododendron forests which are in full-bloom in May. Crossing the river, we can look back down the valley at the beautiful views of Thameserku and Kusum Kanguru. We continue to climb up through rhododendron forest to pasturelands in front of the village of Thame. This secluded village is the birthplace of Tenzing Norgey, the first Sherpa ever to climb Mt. Everest. We will camp in meadows at edge of the village. Outside the village there is the Cliffside monastery which takes about an hour to walk but is of great interest. From here, we will climb across the ridge to view the route to the Nangpa La, a pass to Tibet frequently used by the Sherpas and their yaks during the monsoon. 6 hrs.

Today we walk back down the valley via Thamo, which is a hillside nunnery. We take the high trail, which by passes Namche and drops into Khumjung. This village is one of the most beautiful in Khumbu due to it symmetrically laid out stone houses where many Sherpa families live. The Sherpas may extend their hospitality and offer a teatime visit to one of their houses, which if offered is an experience not to miss. 6 hrs.

The trail descends from Khumjung with chortens framing a dramatic view of Ama Dablam and Kangtaiga flanked by the towering heights of Sagarmatha (the Nepalese name for Everest), Lhotse and Nuptse. We continue to descend through moss covered rhododendron forests, watching for blood pheasant and the Impayan pheasant in the undergrowth. After crossing the Dudh Koshi at Phungithanga we climb through rhododendron forests to the saddle at the top of the hill. Here lies Tengboche, the main monastery of Khumbu area, from which the views are unforgettable. Tengboche lies at the base of Kangtaiga and the spur of this ridge offers panoramic views of the main peaks of Khumbu including Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Twaoche and Khumbila. 5 Hrs.

The trek continues to descend from Tengboche and again we cross the Imja Khola to Pangboche, an interesting gompa site above the main village. Trekkers are in the midst of the Himalayas here, with spectacular views all around. For acclimatization there is a need to spend two nights around the 14,000'/4267m level and Dingboche, lying in a sheltered spot above the Imja Khola is generally more attractive than Pheriche. It is of note that the Himalayan Rescue Association have their aid post at Pheriche. 5 hrs.

A day's walk up to Chukung is highly recommended. The route gradually ascends to the few scattered stone huts that make up the settlement. To the south are ever changing views of Ama Dablam and to the north are the massive walls of the Nuptse ridge and the south face of Lhotse. Optional trip/hike to Chukung ri. 5 hrs.

The route traverses across the slopes over the ridge and stays above the village. It joins the trail below

  • Duration:21 days

Day 01 
The road from Kathmandu now extends as far as Jiri – almost into Sherpa country. The 7 hour or so drive is in itself interesting passing through diverse countryside, crossing the Sun Kosi River and climbing high over forested ridges before reaching Jiri, which has become something of a boom-town since the road arrived.

Day 02 BHANDAR (7200'): 
The trail leads up the east ridge of the river through Tamang villages, to Kharubas (8899'/2713m). Climb through rhododendron forest, past old water mills and Mani walls to Buldara Pass, marked bu Mani walls. Descend to Chyangma through forest of rhododendron and oak, passing a large Chorten. Beautiful valley marks the entrance to Sherpa country. Village of Chyangma has some Tamang and Newar people but is predominantly Sherpa. Mani walls welcome the travelers to the town. An interesting shop displays Sherpa Chang bottles and tea churns, essential in a Sherpa home. Continue past main village to grassy field campsite.

Day 03 SETE (8450'): 
Steep descent through forest then more gradually past terraced fields to Phedi, a small Chettri settlement. Cross suspension bridge and walk along river to Kenja at the junction of two rivers, a bustling town with a primary school, teahouses and fabric shops. The village population is a combination of Sherpas, Newars and Chettris. Climb steeply through rhododendron forest. View to the south of receding hills and lush valleys. Mani walls mark entrance to the monastery village of Sete, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery on the Everest trails. A visit to the hilltop monastery is worthwhile. 6 hours.

Day 04 JUNBESI (8776'/2675m): 
Climb up to Lamjura Pass, through pine forest. The trekker is met by a mass of color (in season) as the pass is ascended through a rhododendron forest. Some unnamed rocky summit at the head of the Rolwaling valley are visible from the pass. Lamjura marks a transition point between the receding hills to the southwest and the Solu Khumbu valley ahead. Descend through rhododendron and pine trees to Thakdobuk, Sherpa village with a huge carved Mani rock. Continue down through fields of premolars down to Junbesi, a large Sherpa village with a chorten, large monastery and a school built by Sir Edmund Hillary. Nice view of Numbur (22826'/6959m). Camp near this very interesting village. 7 hours.

Day 05 TAKSHINDU (9300'/2835m): 
The trail climbs out of the Junbesi Valley and side hills running north and traversing high above the river valley to the east, the Solu Valley. A glimpse of Everest's summit pyramid is possible on a clear day. Continue along the ridge to Salung, a Sherpa village with small water-spun prayer wheels. Descend through pine forest and grassy slopes to the Ringmo Khola. Cross the river and climb through the apple orchards of the Sherpa village of Ringmo Takshindu pass (9800'/2933m). The chorten marking the top of the pass sets off the towering views of Kangtega (22235'/6779m) and Thamserku across the Dudh Kosi valley. Drop down through forest to the pagoda like monastery of Takshindu. 5 hours.

Day 06 KHARI KHOLA (6800'/2073m): 
Descend steeply to Manidingma, a Rai and Sherpa village by a stream. Continue through Mustard fields and through forest, with chance of seeing langurs. The descent continues into the valley of the Dudh Kosi, which drains the southern slopes of the Everest Massif. Cross suspension bridge and gradually climb to the Jubing, a Rai village with bamboo stands around its houses. Continue to the Magar and Sherpa villages of Khari Khola, a village with water mills and mani walls which has a colorful market every Wednesday. 5 ½ hours.

Day 07 PUYAN (8800'/2603m): 
Cross small river, then steep climb to Kharte through rhododendron and oak trees as well as the fragrant daphne. Continue through forest to Kartedara with a chance of seeing pheasant. Descend to river through rhododendron and birch, pine and bamboo to camp in forest near the stream. 5 hours.

Day 08 PHAKDING (8500'/2591m): 
Trail continues to traverse high above river. Nice view up the valley, including the airstrip at Lukla. A long, steep descent to small river at Surkya. Continue to village of Chauri Kharka, set among the terraces on the hillside. Camp near bridge at Phakding. At the side of the bridge is a brightly painted mani rock, carved in commemoration of several families who died when the Dudh Kosi became a raging torrent from an avalanche that originated high on the slopes of Ama Dablam, a startling pyramid hidden by the steep walls of the valley above. Note: On 5 August 1985 an avalanche of ice and rock falling into an ice lake above the village of Thame caused the lake to burst. The resulting flood greatly affected the Bhote Kosi valley destroying bridges and the partially built hydro scheme below Thamo and also destroyed all the other bridges and some of the route down the Dudh Kosi – it also rolled over the massive boulder mentioned above.

Day 09 NAMCHE BAZAAR (11300'/3445m): 
Follow the Bhote Kosi through forest and pasture land. Along a valley dotted with small Sherpa settlements. Cross the Bhote Kosi and climb steeply along switch-backing trail to large Sherpa village, views of Everest and Lhotse come into sight. This prosperous town is the largest in Khumbu. A traditional trading center, the Bazaar is held every Saturday. The wares on display include grains and vegetable, tennis shoes and trinkets as well as hand woven aprons and Tibetan boots. Thamserku and Kwangde Ri loom to the east and west and the sacred mountain Khumbila dominates the skyline to the north behind the village. 6 hours.

Day 10 THAME (12467'/3801m):
Traverse westwards with view of Kwangde and the waterfalls cascading off its flanks. Follow Bhote Kosi as trailside hills on its bank through yellow and white rhododendron forest (in full-bloom in May). Cross river, look back down valley for beautiful views of Thamserku and Kusum Kanguru. Climb up through rhododendron forest to pasturelands in front of the village of Thame. Secluded village is the birthplace of Tenzing Norgey, the first Sherpa ever to climb Mt. Everest. Camp in meadows at edge of village. An hour's climb to the Cliffside monastery is of great interest. From here, the trekkers can side hill above the village then climb across the ridge to view the route to the Nangpa La, a pass to Tibet frequently used by the Sherpas and their yaks during the monsoon. 6 hours.

Day 11 KHUMJUNG (12434'/3791m):
Walk back down the valley by way of Thamo, a hillside nunnery. Take the high trail, which bypasses Namche and drops into Khumjung. This village is one of the most beautiful in Khumbu. Its symmetrically laid out stone houses house the families of many of our Sherpas. The Sherpas may extend their hospitality and offer a teatime visit to one of these houses – an experience. 6 hours.

Day 12 TENGBOCHE (12670'/3863m): 
The trail descends from Khumjung with chortens framing a dramatic view of Ama Dablam and Kangtaiga flanked by the towering heights of Sagarmatha (the Nepalese name for Everest), Lhotse and Nuptse. Descend through moss covered rhododendron forest, watching for blood pheasant and the Impayan pheasant in the undergrowth. Cross the Dudh Kosi at Phungithanga and climb through rhododendron forest to the saddle at the top of the hill. Here lies Tengboche, the main monastery of Khumbu area. The views from here are unforgettable. Tengboche lies at the base of Kangtaiga and the spur of this ridge offers panoramic views of the main peaks of Khumbu including Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Twaoche and Khumbila. 5 hours.

Day 13 DINGBOCHE (14150'/4412m): 
Descend from Tengboche and again cross the Imja Khola then side hill gradually to Pangboche, an interesting gompa site above the main village. The trekker is in the midst of the Himalayas here, with spectacular views all around. For acclimatization there is a need to spend two nights around the 14000'/4268m level and Dingboche lying in a sheltered spot above the Imja Khola is generally more attractive than Pheriche. It is however of note that the Himalayan Rescue Association have their aid post at Pheriche. 5 hours.

Day 14 DINGBOCHE: 
A day walk up to Chukung is highly recommended. The route gradually ascends to the few scattered stone huts that make up the settlement. To the south are ever changing views of Ama Dablam and to the north the massive walls of the Nuptse ridge and the south face of Lhotse. Optional trip/hike to Chukung Ri. 5 hours.

Day 15 LOBUCHE (16175'/4931m): 
The route traverses across the slopes over a ridge and stays above the village. It joins the trail below Thugla, beautiful views of Cholatse (21129'/6442m) across the valley. After another steep ascent the trail climbs up and over the terminal moraine of Khumbu Glacier. Up and along the west lateral moraine of glacier the trail is rough in parts. Stark and rugged beauty creates almost a moonscape. Campsite at Lobuche a windswept collection of huts tucked in a narrow meadow between the glacier and the Lobuche Peak (20192'/6156m). Tawache and Nuptse are particularly spectacular from Lobuche, towering almost two kilometers directly overhead. 5 hours.

Day 16 LOBUCHE: 
Early start essential. Travel along the Khumbu glacier through jumbled moraine and shattered rock. Climb Kala Pattar (5483m) for views of giants of the earth, Pumori, Everest, the Tibetan peak Changtse, Nuptse, Lhotse and countless other needle and snow fluted ridges. A trip to the actual Base camp of Everest is usuakky omitted. The Khumbu icefall obstructs views and the base camp are is littered with debris from years of climbing expeditions to Everest. And unless an Expedition is actually at base camp a route can be difficult to find.

Day 17 PHORTSE 3847m: 
Descend gradually all morning. Pass through Pangboche. Stay high on the west bank of the river to the Sherpa village of Phortse, which lies on the lower southern flank of Tawache, directly across the valley from Tengboche. 6 hours.

Day 18 KHUNDE/KHUMJUNG: 
Descend through forest to the Dudh Kosi, a very pretty crossing points leads to a steady climb to a chorten offering wonderful views back across the valley to Phortse, Tengboche and their surrounding mountains. A traverse leads to a classic descent down a giant rock pathway hewn out of the mount in side. A plod up the valley leads back to the twin villages. 5 hours.

Day 19 MONJO/JORSALE: 
The route home leads back through Namche and off down the hill. There are some nice campsites close to the National Park boundary. 5 hours.

Day 20 Lukla 2804m: 
From here the walk to Lukla take about five hours of which the last one and half are rather surprisingly hard work.

Day 21 
One of the most thrilling take-offs in the world wings the Twin Otters high above the Dudh Kosi for the 45 minute flight back to Kathmandu.