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 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30 pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
An early start for breakfast before transferring to the airport for the short 35 minute flight to Tumlingtar. We fly above mountain ranges before reaching Tumlingtar which sits on a wide plateau in the Arun Valley. We meet our transportation and drive to Num where we will make our first overnight camp.
The trail descends steeply from the western end of the Nun ridge through the cornfields of Lumbang. Below Lumbang the trail becomes very steep as it drops on slippery rocks through jungle to a suspension bridge over the Arun Kosi at 620m. From the bridge the trail climbs steeply to a primitive teashop at 820m, then through rice, corn and buckwheat fields. The landscape here is picturesque with tiny terraces planted with corn and barley. Finally we make a long climb to Seduwa.
Climbing along the ridge from Seduwa we pass the National Park Forest Nursery project and then climb gently northward through rice fields to Manigaon on the next ridge. There are several streams to cross that may or may not have bridges. From Manigaon the trail turns west and makes a gradual climb high above the Kasuwa Khola to a mani wall at 1890m. It's an easy walk through terraced fields and forested areas to Hindrungma village and on to Ropesa, where we may find monks sitting beside the trail collecting donations for the small gompa nearby. Our route crosses meadows and several streams before reaching the Tashigaon school and eventually the village proper. This is the last permanent settlement in the valley. We make the long climb on a stone staircase to thee corn fields at the top of town at 2100 metres where we make camp for the night.
This is a tough day, with an elevation gain of 1400m on a steep trail. Initially climbing over a ridge we pass by a herders' hut and then the trail levels out and climbs to a shepherds' hut called Chipla atop another ridge at 2520m. The route now becomes steeper with switchbacks through forest to Unshisha, a tiny meadow at 3180m. Once we gain the ridge we will continue a short distance through sparse forests before making a final descent to Khongma (3560m). There are no buildings and many of the tent sites are on the sloping hillside in this often muddy camp site.
Steep switchbacks take us to the top of the ridge at 3840m where there is a stone chorten adorned with prayer flags. This is a superb viewpoint with Makalu in the distance. Following along the ridge line through rhododendrons we ascend a stone staircase, and few false summits along the trail, before gaining a side ridge. This is Ghungru La (also known as Tutu La; 4050m). Descending to a lake we then climb steeply up a shallow gully to our major pass crossing - Shipton La. The pass was named when Eric Shipton and Sir Edmund Hillary used this route enroute to Dharan after their 1952 Everest reconnaissance. Descending from the La we pass two lakes at 4020m, and climb through large boulders to Keke La (4170m). On the other side of the pass the route enters a valley filled with rhododendron forests. In Spring the valley floor is a carpet of brilliant wild flowers. We camp tonight at Dobato. The following day sees us descend steeply to the valley floor where we cross the Barun river before starting our gradual ascent to Yangla Kharka (3557m), where we rendezvous with the Full Traverse group who will be coming in from the Kanchenjunga link of the GHT.
It is a short trekking day to Langmale Kharka to aid acclimatisation,we take in the impressive mountain scenery found in this area.Great rock walls tower above as we make our way through the enormous U-shaped valley. Snowy peaks are the stunning backdrop to this valley often referred to as the Yosemite of the Himalaya, and it is a magnificent place to spend a well deserved rest day.
Makalu Base Camp affords stunning views of its south face, with the south buttress of Makalu offering views of Baruntse (7220m), Everest and Lhotse. The Hillary and French base camps are far up the glacier, past Barun Pokhari, and these are now the traditional base camps used by climbing parties to Makalu. An optional walk from BC is a spectacular climb up grassy slopes to the top of the ridge. At the 5250m mark there is an outstanding view of Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar as well as both the south-east and north ridges of Everest, along with the Kangshung Face and the South Col. Makalu looms above the ridge to the north.
The second half of trek to Swisse BC is tricky and involves boulder hopping as we follow the Barun Glacier directly beneath Makalu enormous west face.
Swisse Base Camp is situated amongst the moraine in a sandy spot directly opposite the mighty West Pillar on Makalu. Very few campsites a this close to one of these 8000m giants.
We have a full day set aside to rest and acclimatise and will aim to reach a vantage point above camp with a (weather permitting) great view of Everest and the fabled Kangshung Face.
We have allowed 2 days to position ourselves for the crossing of the Sherpani & West Cols. Depending on our group movement and progress we may need to be flexible on our approach. As we near the Sherpani Col base camp the trail is much less defined and with more boulder hopping, and now that we are climbing high cloud may obscure the trail. We camp high at the snout of the glacier at 5688m with the Sherpani Col 3 hours above us. If conditions are favourable and the group are moving at a good pace we may attempt to make the crossing of both Cols in a day, but in all likelihood we'll be camping at Baruntse C1 on the West Col @ 6100m on the first night and descending the Col to the Honku valley the next day. Although these are the most demanding days of our trek, we are deep in the Himalaya and the massive scale of the mountains around us are an awesome sight to behold. There will be sections of roped up travel and abseiling, and our Sherpa guides and mountaineering leader will manage the coming days as snow and weather conditions dictate.
Leaving Namche we continue down through the forest to the valley floor to follow the Dudh Kosi downhill and out of the national park to our fixed camp at the small settlement of Monjo. The following day we pass through a variety of settlements and forests before a gentle climb to Lukla. We savour our final mountain sunsets of the trek as we complete this challenging and exhilarating journey. Our last evening of the trek 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 are now trekking towards the busy main trail through the Khumbu Valley to Namche. On arrival in Namche there will no doubt be earnest celebration of a challenging but satisfying expedition, the likes of which has been enjoyed by very few people. 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. Our accommodation will be at our private permanent campsite.
We turn south and down valley towards Lukla for our return to Kathmandu. There are Sherpa villages to be explored as we descend the gorge. We will spend the night at the pretty village of Thame with its spectacular monastery. We will bid farewell to our Full GHT & Everest Rolwaling Traverse groups.
The crossing of the Renjo La Pass will be exciting and relatively straight forward. 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. Overnight camp at Taranga.
We trek around Gokyo Lake to set up our wilderness camp below the Renjo La pass ready for our crossing tomorrow.
After our crossings are completed we descend into the Honku valley nearby five large glacial lakes which sprawl out before us. They are known as Panch Pokhari (five lakes). The Amphu Labsta pass is situated immediately at the head of the valley to our right and is basically the low point on the ridge between the Honku and the Imja valleys. For this day or so we are in the Honku. A new vista of peaks span out before us including Ama Dablam to the distant west, and many unnamed peaks. Amphu Labsta Base Camp is set close to the rocks that lead up to the pass. On these stages we ask that members be flexible and co-operative. Camps will be set where conditions allow, and your leader will keep you advised as to each days plan.
The views today are magnificent as we leave the Everest watershed and enter that of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. The crossing involves a steep scramble up rock boulders and then a walk across the gently ascending, snow-covered glacier that caps the pass, the views of the route ahead, and of the glacier itself, are breathtaking. We descend steep boulder strewn slopes to the Gokyo valley below. This is a valley of turquoise lakes and great glaciers. For the first part of the descent there are discernible paths that zigzag down the mountainside slippery in snow! The ground then levels out and the path all but disappears as we hop across a field of boulders. Finally we climb a gentle slope to the top, from where it's all downhill, following a narrow river valley all the way to its base at Dragnag, a small Sherpa settlement nestled beneath great rock walls, just a stone's throw from the Ngozumba Glacier. Continuing on we reach Gokyo in the late afternoon.
Day 23 brings us to Dingboche and our comfortable private permanent campsite. Over the past week we have made crossings of some of the most challenging terrain found in the Himalaya. From our camp we have excellent views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Chukung Peak and Imja Tse (6189m) 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. The following day we proceed to Dzongla, another spectacularly situated camp, on our way to our next pass, the Cho La.
An alpine start for our pass crossing. Ferrying across all our loads together with all party members, crew, porters and members takes time. The approach to the pass from the Honku is deceptive. Facing east and southward there is much more sun and little snow, just a collection of rocks that gradually lead up to the gap we travel through. On the north facing side we find steep slopes of snow that we must take care to descend by fixed ropes to the snow basins below and subsequent moraine and alpine valley beyond. The views from this 5845m pass crossing to the peaks of Khumbu are unmatched. Any spare moment whilst we are climbing and descending will allow us to appreciate the spectacle of the peaks of the region.
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.
The steady and unrelenting ascent of Gokyo Ri will take around two hours. You will be elated when you reach the summit with its 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 (8475m), 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 Ngozumba 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 an 8,000 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 to view the peak.
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.