You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 4.30-5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. This evening we will head out for dinner, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members.
Overnight: Radisson Hotel
This morning final gear checks will be held and afterwards we will depart for Thamel where any necessary items will be hired, ie plastic boots, or purchased. The remainder of the day you are free to explore Kathmandu’s bustling streets and significant landmarks. You may wish to start by exploring the city’s two most important World Heritage Listed spiritual sites: Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and an important cremation site; and Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet. Alternatively you could wander through the markets and shops of the busy Thamel precinct or explore some more of the city’s significant sites such as Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) or the World Heritage Listed plazas of Patan, Bhaktapur or Durbar Square.
We transfer to the airport for the 45 minute flight to the STOL airstrip at Lukla. This was the airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and his friends to service the Everest Region when he began his work of building schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people. It is a memorable flight, with marvellous views of the Eastern Himalaya. At Lukla we are immediately impressed by the scale of the huge peaks that surround the village but this is only a foretaste of what is to come. Our crew assemble and we head downhill towards the Dudh Kosi, a raging river that flows from the highest peaks. The broad and well-marked trail meanders around fields of potats and buck-wheat and passes through small villages, as we pass rows of tree dahlia to make our way to our first overnight stop at our private permanent campsite at Ghat.
Today we cross and re-cross the thundering glacial river, named "Dudh" (milk) Kosi (river) because of its colour. Sections of today's walk are through pine forest and cleared areas reveal terraced fields and a variety of crops. We pass small groups of donkeys and yaks carrying trading goods and trek-gear along the trail. We pass small groups of donkeys, yaks and dzopko carrying trading goods and trek - gear along the trail. A dzopko is a yak-cow crossbreed while a yak is a full-blood long haired male, more commonly found at higher altitudes. Spectacular mountain peaks unfold above us and seem to hover above the tree-line as they rise above the deep river valley. Shortly after leaving camp we cross the Kusum Khola, a tributary stream to the Dudh Kosi, and the peak of Kusum Kangru (6369 m) can be seen to the East, at the head of the valley. Further along the trail, across the valley to the North-West, Nupla (5885 m) and Kongde Ri (6093 m) rise above the forested ridges. At a turn of the trail, Thamserku (6808 m) rises majestically, seemingly from the river floor.
We will see our first Mani walls today. These stone structures are a compilation of many stone tablets, each with the inscription "Om Mani Padme Hum" which translates to "Hail to the jewel in the lotus", and is mantra (chant) venerated by Buddhists and Brahmans alike.
Buddhists will walk to the left of these Mani Walls and chortens, but you may notice that people of the lowlands who have no knowledge of Buddhism do not follow this practice.
The allure of the mountains is hard to resist, but we must be patient, as it is very important to acclimatise slowly and thereby fully appreciate our time at higher altitude. Today's walk is not a long one, and you will be eager to press on. Slow down, and enjoy the journey. Overnight at our private permanent camp site above Monjo.
Moving on, we cross the thundering glacial river, named 'Dudh' (milk) Kosi (river) because of its colour and rejoin the main trail from here. There seems to be a never ending trail of yaks and people; local traders, commuters and trekkers, all making their way up to or down from the busy market village of Namche Bazaar. The climb of approx 600 metres from the valley floor and river junction of the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi is wide and winding and good preparation for our many climbs ahead in the program. To our right as we ascend, we can see the beautiful jagged peaks of Thamserku (6808m) with Kang Taiga (6780m) behind. Eventually we round a corner in the trail and enter the bowl where the town is situated, completely enveloped by rugged slopes and mountains. Our accommodation will be at our private permanent campsite.
Sagarmartha National Park Headquarters just above our private permanent campsite offers a very interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park, and the hill above is a wonderful vantage point for the spectacular view up the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest. The change from the narrow lowland valleys to the broad glacial ones is immediately obvious. The steep-sided glacial valley before us gradually winds towards the base of Everest, broken only by the moraines left by retreating glaciers. Its more gradual rate of climb is a blessing for those trekking higher. Towering to over 4000 metres above the valley floor, spectacular peaks seem to engulf us. Around us are Taweche (6542 m), Thamserku (6808 m), Kantega (6685 m), Ama Dablam (6856 m), Nuptse (7896 m) and Lhotse (8511 m). The greatest of all, Mt Everest (8848 m), rises at the head of the valley. The Sherpa Cultural Centre has an interesting collection of mountaineering items and photographs. Those who are fit and acclimatising well may wish to take the optional morning walk to the Everest View Hotel where spectacular views of Everest and Ama Dablam may be seen. Overnight at our private permanent campsite.
The walk to Thyangboche is one of the most spectacular trekking days in Nepal. The trail meanders easily around the ridges and Everest can be clearly seen on the horizon ahead before we descend through splendid rhododendron forests for lunch. After lunch we cross the Dudh Kosi and begin the ascent to the top of a long ridge which flows from the summit of Kantega. Our trail takes us through pine and rhododendron forest, and, as this is a devout Buddhist region, the wildlife is unharmed and not too shy. As a result there is a possibility that we may see Himalayan Thar, Musked Deer or pheasants in the forest and around our campsite. As we approach the ridgeline we pass through a traditional gateway and around a chorten before cresting the ridge onto a wide grassy meadow at the monastery village of Thyangboche. The monastery was re-built with the assistance of Sir Edmund Hillary after it was destroyed by fire in 1989. The views of the Everest massif, as well as all the other major peaks of the area are astounding. After a rest and visit to the monastery we head downhill to Deboche and our private permanent campsite.
The early morning mountain views from the monastery are outstanding. Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are at the head of the valley, their line of sight flanked by Tawatse on one side, and Ama Dablam on the other. Almost directly above us are Kantega and Thamserku. Completing a 360-degree panorama of mountains are Khumblia and Kongde Ri which encircle us from across the valley. From Thyangboche we head down to cross the Imja Khola before an easy climb along a wide, open trail to the small village of Pangboche (3901m). We may take a slight detour to visit the Pangboche Gompa - the oldest monastery in the Khumbu, said to be over 300 years old. The views of Ama Dablam, one of the Himalaya's most stunning peaks, are spectacular. Continuing on, we cross the river again and trek up to our camp at Dingboche, situated just beneath the impressive Ama Dablam.
An important acclimatisation/rest day today with the option of hiking high up to the ridge overlooking the village, or perhaps up to Chukung Village. Excellent views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Chukung Peak and Imja Tse (6189 m) are had from both in the valley or from the ridge above the camp. Massive glaciers drape beneath cliffs that soar up to 3,500 metres in this dramatic valley.
Retracing our steps along the valley, we pass through a variety of settlements and forests enroute to Lukla. We savour our final mountain sunset as we complete this exhilarating journey. Our last evening in the mountains is a good time to have a small party for all the team, especially the porters who will return to their villages from here. There is usually lots of music, dancing and singing and if we are lucky, one of the superb cakes that our Nepali chefs are renowned for.
We have two days set aside for the return walk back to Namche. We are fit and acclimatised with the added benefit of much of the trek being downhill. We descend the valley from Base camp, trekking adjacent to a large glacial lake to our left and passing through spectacular high mountain scenery. There are yak pastures and several huts which are used seasonally by the local people, but little else until we reach the settlement of Chukhung. We generally overnight at Dingboche, but this will depend upon group movemenet. The following night we overnight in our private campsite in Namche.
An alpine start sees us climbing steeply up the lower flanks of the south-east face. The track is well used as this is a popular peak. At times there is a bit of rock scrambling and the rocky spur takes us to a snow ramp that leads to the upper snow fields. The peaks of Makalu and Lhotse come into view as we climb higher. Upon crossing the upper neve, it is necessary to fix ropes up a short but steep ice face that leads on to the summit ridge. The summit ridge is a classic alpine ridge and quite exposed, (we fix ropes here also) and traverse our way to the summit. Although Island Peak appears dwarfed by the seven and eight thousanders surrounding it, it provides a magnificent vantage point to all the peaks south of the stupendous Lhotse face. After some exhilarating moments on the summit we descend by the same route back to base camp.
A day set aside to relax and prepare for the upcoming climb. Alternatively, this day may be used for a summit day, depending on various factors that will be considered by the guide at the time.
We are gaining altitude and it is important that we move at a slow, steady pace. The slopes are quite barren now as we have moved above the tree line. Views of different peaks, such as Cholatse and Lobuche, unfold before us in this contrasting and spectacular landscape. We move up the Dhugla Ridge and onto moraine towards Khumbu Glacier. Rock cairns can be seen, many of which are dedicated to the memory of climbers attempting the high mountains of the area, including Everest. The temperatures drop here as we are more exposed with our camp situated amongst this glacial moraine. We enjoy spectacular views all day today of Pumori and Nuptse. The hill above the town affords fine sunset views of Nuptse.
We make our way down valley to Chukkung where we spend a well earned rest day before continuing to our base camp on Island Peak. This is a good time to catch up on some washing and preparations for our climb. If you are still feeling energetic the hill behind Chukkung offers a nice ascent and the views of the glaciers on the opposite side are just reward.
By staying at Gorak Shep we can get an early start and the extra day of acclimatisation we have had by staying here will be invaluable on the walk to Base Camp. Although it has undoubtedly been a cold night we have time to comfortably ascend to the historic site and enjoy it to the fullest. Return to Gorak Shep.
We trek alongside the Khumbu Glacier as the path winds over the rocky moraine towards the settlement of Gorak Shep. We are high, among the glaciers of the world's highest peaks. At the junction of two large glaciers and nestled in an amphitheatre of peaks, this campsite is spectacular. Pumori (7145m), Lingtren (6697m) surround our camp. Following our arrival at Gorak Shep we have an early lunch before ascending Kala Pattar. Kala Pattar is not a Nepali name but a Hindi name and translates to "black rock". From these black rocks atop the hill the views are spectacular. Most eyes are locked on the mass of Everest and its rocky buttresses immediately before us. Many of the famous ascent routes are quite clear. Below us the Khumbu Glacier snakes towards the icefall and Western Cwm. We can see the area where expeditions set their base camp but the original site was at Lake Camp, now known as Gorak Shep. Take a look in every direction and soak it in. The view south and our route out, is particularly beautiful. The air is clear and the sun is strong but as the sun sets it becomes very cold. Sunsets here can be stunning.
This morning we fly to Kathmandu, a thrilling flight over forests, fields and villages, with the Himalaya in the background. On arrival, we transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Moving up the Imja valley, between Ama Dablam, Lhotse and a panorama of other peaks, we ascend onto lateral moraine to a camp in an ablation valley above the normal base camp for the climb.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people departing by aircraft will be transferred to the airport.