Nepal Trek – Three High Passes in Images – Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La to include Kala Patthar / EBC

“Coming back to Earth from the high peaks you can feel like a stranger. Bearing experiences that are beyond expression… And beyond price!”- taken from MOUNTAIN the movie

Just a few day’s have passed since I returned from Lukla, back to Kathmandu. My Nepal trek suddenly feels like a distant dream. As I have slowly worked through my images, I have found it difficult to grasp and come to terms with the journey undertaken.

I cannot find the words… I hope they will come? For now though, I have to let the images tell the story. I need to absorb the process and let my emotions come to terms with a dream fulfilled. Needless to say, this trek was beyond expectations.

What I can write, are the facts.

My plan was to undertake the Three High Passes – Renjo La (5360m), Cho La (5420m) and Kongma La (5545m) in the harder clockwise direction with the addition of a diversion to Gorak Shep to go to Kala Patthar (5545m) and Everest Base Camp (5364m). Finally, I would conclude the trip with Ama Dablam Base Camp (4800m) before returning to Namche Bazaar and onward to Lukla.

Typically, the Three High Pass trek takes 21+ days without including Kala Patthar, EBC or Ama Dablam.

I took one day from Lukla to Namche and on my return, I took another single day to return from Namche to Lukla.

I had one day in Namche for acclimation.

I completed the High Pass Trek with additions in 7-days – I am truly thankful to Sherpa Kaji for his incredible guidance and experience on the trails! Pasang Sherpa for his knowledge and continuing support with all logistics.

You can view my GPS inReach track

My itinerary was as follows:

  • Day 1 – flight to Lukla, trek to Namche.
  • Day 2 – Namche acclimate day.
  • Day 3 – Namche to Lumde
  • Day 4 – Lumde to Gokyo via Renjo La Pass
  • Day 5 – Gokyo to Dzongla via Cho La Pass
  • Day 6 – Dzongla to Gorak Shep and an out and back to Kala Patthar
  • Day 7 – Gorak Shep to EBC and and back and then onward to Lobuche
  • Day 8 – Lobuche to Pangboche via Kongma La Pass
  • Day 9 – Pangboche to Ama Dablam Base Camp and back and then onward to Namche
  • Day 10 – Namche to Lukla

Total distance covered was 173.74km

For now, a visual story – the words and detail will follow. If you would like to read about my equipment and planning, please go HERE.

If I may suggest, please listen to Violin concerto in D major: OP61: II Larghetto – by Beethoven on Spotify here or YouTube here.

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Everest Trail Race 2018 Tengboche to Lukla #ETR2018

Day 6 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Leaving Tengboche the race retraces stage-5 to Phakding via a diversion at Sensa to the amazing Kumjung Valley where the runners would normally have an incredible backdrop of Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam. Today, the cloud came in blocking all views and keeping temperatures very cold throughout the stage.  Arriving at Namche Bazaar the ETR then re-traces stage 5 all the way to Phakding and then as the trail heads back to Kharikhola, a left turn leads to the final climb and the swinish line in Lukla.and then branch left to climb to Lukla and the finish of the 2017 ETR.

On paper, the stage is mostly downhill with 3183m of descent in comparison to 2105m of ascent over the 29.5km course. It’s a tough way to finish a race, but the rewards are worth it!

Today Jordi Gamito eased back and ran with Manuela Vilaseca, overall victory was guaranteed and he enjoyed the day. This allowed Joan Soler to finally achieve a stage victory, well deserved after racing hard all week! Sergio Arias has been a consistent 3rd all week but today he slipped to 4th opening a podium place for Pasang Sherpa.

Purnimaya Rai  despite being guaranteed overall victory, did not ease up today and she pushed ahead to secure another stage victory. Manuela Vilaseca and Becks Ferry finished 2nd and 3rd showing great consistency.

OVERALL GC

  1. Jordi Gamito
  2. Sergio Arias
  3. Joan Soler

OVERALL GC

  1. Purnimaya Rai
  2. Manuela Vilaseca
  3. Becks Ferry

Everest Trail Race 2018 Phakding to Tengboche #ETR2018

Day 5 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

Phakding to Tengboche is one of the most beautiful trails in the world – the views are constantly incredible, the trails challenging and when one leaves Namche Bazaar, the views of AMA Dablam and Everest as one winds along a narrow path are beyond impressive. When the runner’s arrive at the monastery, the ETR place a finish arch that frames Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam perfectly, It’s quite the picture postcard and the perfect finish line for the ETR.

2124m of positive incline and 20km are the stats for stage 5. Each year, it is considered to be an ‘easy’ day but it never is…

Departing Phakding (2700m), Namche Bazar (3600m) is the first port of call then Kumjung and Cp2 and Phungi Tenga (3300m) before the tough and steep ascent to Tengboche at 3900m.

The finish line at Tengboche is arguably one of THE most amazing finishing lines of any race and this was reflected in some of the emotions shown as runners crossed the line today. It’s a mix of laughter, tears and elation – at times, all three. The view alone is enough to make one cry.

Today, Jordi Gamito and Rai Purnimaya clinched stage victories and almost certainly the title, Everest Trail Race 2018 champions. Jordi has dominated the race winning every stage and Rai appears to have become stronger as the race progressed.

Manuela Vilaseca and Becks Ferry once again placed 2nd and 3rd and will likely finish in these positions on GC at the end of tomorrow’s 6th and final stage.

For the men, Joan Soler finished 2nd running a strong 5th stage and Sergio Arias was 3rd.

Tomorrow is the final day of the ETR 2018 and the runners run back to Lukla via Namche Bazaar.

Everest Trail Race 2018 Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola #ETR2018

Day 3 Everest Trail Race #ETR2018

After yesterday relentless uphill struggle today, day-3 of the Everest Trail Race was all downhill, well, sort of. Starting in Jase Bhanjyang runners passed through Jumbesi, Phurteng, Salung, Taksindu and then from Jubhing the race finishes with a tough climb to the stunning monastery at Kharikhola. At 37.4km in length the total descent is a quad busting 4110m in contrast to 2512m of ascent.

While many talk about day 2 of the ETR being the most demanding, I personally over the years have found day 3 very challenging! The terrain is more technical and in all honesty, 4110m of descent is tough on ones legs and knees… Give me the climbing any day! The final push to the line is long, steep and comes when everyone is very tired, the final steps to the monastery at Kharikhola are relentless.

Jordi Gamito was unstoppable today setting a blistering pace that nobody could match. He now has a lead that almost certainly guarantees victory in the 2018 edition of the race, barring an accident. Joan Soler and Sergio Arias worked together today and finished together consolidating 2nd and 3rd places.

For the women, Nepali Rai Purnimaya worked hard and took victory ahead of Manuela Vilaseca in 2nd – these two have a real battle ahead. Becks Ferry was once again 3rd.

The trails and route for the ETR from Kharikhola to Tengboche and back to Lukla are now on the main trekking route of this area of Nepal. In particular, from Lukla, many trekkers are making slow and steady process to Everest Base Camp. The experience over stage 4 really does change for the participants, the more kilometres one covers, the more people one sees. The arrival in Bhandar next to the river is a welcome one.