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
Today you have a full day 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 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. 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 (6369m) can be seen to the East, at the head of the valley. Further along the trail, across the valley to the North-West, Nupla (5885m) and Kongde Ri (6093m) rise above the forested ridges. At a turn of the trail, Thamserku (6808m) 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 every step of the way. It is the journey, not the final destination that is important.
This morning we pass through the gates of the Sagarmatha National Park. The establishment of this national park is a significant attempt to stem the use of fire-wood in the area and the few local people who have a permit to cut wood must gain approval from the authorities on the basis of it being primarily for their personal use. We follow the river course to the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi, and cross a spectacular high bridge before commencing our ascent to the village of Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa "capital" of Nepal. It is a tough climb as the trail passes through forest of pine to a vantage point that provides our first view of Mt Everest. The trail continues to climb and meander to Namche, and the sight of this prosperous village spread within a horse-sh shaped valley opposite the beautiful peak of Kongde Ri is worth every step. After lunch you may wish to peruse the Tibetan trader's stalls or the Sherpa shops in search of a bargain. Our accommodation will be at our private permanent campsite.
Sagarmatha National Park Headquarters 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 (6542m), Thamserku (6808m), Kantega (6685m), Ama Dablam (6856m), Nuptse (7896m) and Lhotse (8511m). The greatest of all, Mt Everest (8848m), rises at the head of the valley. 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.
Heading North-East we initially follow the main trail to Thyangboche as it contours around the hills, before we branch off on a short climb on the flanks of the sacred peak of Khumblia (5761m). We traverse for some time across yak pastures as the trail gradually ascends to Mon La. Below us is the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and Imja Khola and across the valley Thyangboche monastery is framed by Ama Dablam and Kantega. We reach a stupa draped with prayer flags atop a ridge at 3992 metres and then descend steeply through forest to the Dudh Kosi. After afternoon tea an optional walk up the ridge beyond camp will bring us to the village of Portse.
This morning we head north, still following the Dudh Kosi towards it's source, the magnificent Ngozumpa Glacier. An initial short climb gets us onto the trail for the steady climb towards Gokyo. Since leaving the main trail we have seen progressively fewer trekkers and locals and the relative isolation of the trail is a pleasure. Sections of red birch, fir and dwarf rhododendron forest are interspersed with areas of yak pasture as we gradually gain altitude. We pass pleasant waterfalls and sit to gaze at the glaciers that flow from Taweche and Cholatse on the opposite side of the valley. Behind us, spectacular ridges lead to the peak of Khumblia and the numerous unnamed peaks that reach almost 6,000 metres. Camp will be at Dole, in a field beside a pleasant stream. In the distance Kantega and Thamserku rise above the foothills. It was at Dole that one of the more recent and "credible" yeti sightings took place. Ask your trek leader for details and draw your own conclusions.
Continuing a steady but constant climb, we reach the "village" of Machhermo for lunch. Like the few small villages in this valley, Machhermo has only a few buildings and these are empty much of the year. Villagers in Khumjung and Khunde generally own land here high up the valley, where they graze yaks in the summer months. This is a valuable acclimatisation day as we prepare for our ascent of Gokyo Ri (5483m). We take things easy but this afternoon you may wish to stretch your legs and take a walk up the ridge behind Luza for a view of the Gokyo Valley.
Bigu Gompa is the exit point for our Rolwaling GHT stage. Bigu is a Sherpa village, and Bigu Gompa is a nunnery dedicated to Avalokiteshwara, the all seeing, all knowing remover of obstacles. If visiting the nunnery, please note that a small donation is considered appropriate.
As we descend into warmer conditions and lush surrounds the walking becomes much easier now that we are fit and fully acclimatised. We will overnight in Dokhang where there is a spacious campsite by a small stream. The following day we continue through forest and pass by waterfalls on our way to Simigaon. Simigaon village is rich with terraces of wheat, barley and millet; and people busily tending fields and livestock to make a living for themselves. It is a pleasant camp on a sharp ridge at the top of the village offering superb sunset and sunrise views of Gauri Shankar.
The stages to Beding are pleasant,and we will trek through Rhododedron, pine and juniper forest whilst travelling by the riverside. There is also an abundance of bird-life.
The weather, snow and glacier conditions will play a large part in how difficult the route will be. We climb up steadily through several rock and ice gullies to reach the pass where we are treated with a superb new vista of mountains. Few of these peaks have been climbed, nor do they have a formal name, and they are not open to foreigners. It is one of the least accessible parts of the Nepal Himalaya. Tengi Ragi Tau and Pharchamo tower above and mark the gap to the pass; both are captivating in their form with their sheer ice and rock faces. We need to make a long, steady trek along the rock/snow and descend crevassed snow slopes to the Trakarding glacier. There are several sections that usually require some scrambling on rock and ice, and if necessary we will fix a rope as a handrail. Our staff will work closely with team members to make a safe passage for all. The pass achieved, we enjoy the thrill of where we are, sandwiched between two fabulous regions and mountain ranges. Overnight camp on the Trakarding glacier.
Following the valley high above the river, we commence the ascent to Gokyo village. There are excellent views of Cholatse at the village of Pangka and we stop to enjoy them. We are now in high alpine country and as we approach the Ngozumpa Glacier we trek onto the moraine and rock that extends down from it. We enjoy excellent views of Kantega to the south and Cho Oyu to the north. Each mountain has its individual character and presence and you can understand why the Nepalese give them such religious significance. Once we have ascended the snout of the glacier the path levels. We pass the first of the lakes, Longpongo, before reaching the second, Taoche Lake, a larger body of water and a place where ducks are often seen swimming in the freezing waters. As we walk up the valley our path parallels the Ngozumpa Glacier and separating us from the glacier is the massive lateral moraine. We camp near the shores of Dudh Pokhari, the third lake. Today we will meet with the Makalu & Everest Traverse & the Full GHT groups.
We turn south and down valley towards Lukla, there are Sherpa villages to be explored as we descend the gorge. We will spend the night at the village of Thame with its spectacular monastery. Today we bid farewell to the GHT Makalu & Everest Traverse group.
A challenging crossing of the Renjo La Pass will be exciting and may require the use of ropes to descend into remote northern valley where access is restricted, and the landscape is progressively that of the Tibetan Valleys beyond the border. There is a chance we will meet Tibetan Traders descending from the Nangpa La pass that leads through the Himalayas from Tibet with their caravans of woolly yaks laden with goods.
An early start is best for the opportunities that the early morning views offer. The steady and unrelenting ascent of Gokyo Ri will take two to three hours, depending on your level of fitness and acclimatisation. It is not a race and we are still acclimatising to the thinner air and so an easy steady pace is best. You will be elated when you reach the summit with it's spectacular view. Probably the most comprehensive view of 8,000 metre peaks in Nepal, many people consider it to be Nepal's best. Surrounding us are Cho Oyu (8153m), (a mountain that defeated a British Expedition of climbers, including Hillary, in their lead-up to their successful assault of Everest), Gyangchung Kang (7922m), Lhotse (8501m), Makalu (8475 m), Cholatse (6440m), Taweche (6542m), Kantega (6685m), Thamserku (6808m), Lobuche (6145m) and Mt Everest (8848m). Hundreds of other unnamed peaks fill the scene, whilst below us the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal, stretches through the valley. The striking colour of the lakes below completes the picture. The only way to get a better view of the entire Everest region would be to climb a 7,000 metre peak! Although further from Everest than Kala Pattar, the traditional viewing point, here we see more of the mountain and enjoy a more relaxed environment.
Today is the final day of our trek. After breakfast we will meet our transfer back to Kathmandu.
We will spend two days on our approach to the Tashi Labsta. Our first night will be spent by the lake (Parchemuche Tsho)in a picturesque setting. We will be monitoring the weather conditions at this stage to be prepared for our pass crossing. Cave camp is set high and puts us in a good position to assess conditions for our Tashi Labsta crossing.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people departing by aircraft will be transferred to the airport and assisted with check-in procedures.